Replace Your Timing Belt, Avoid Engine Damage

A destroyed engine will cost you thousands of dollars to replace.

One of the most significant wear items on your car is its timing belt. When this belt is working properly your engine is operating as designed, but If your timing belt suddenly breaks your car will stop. Moreover, you might incur engine damage and in a worse case scenario you may need to replace your engine. Replace your timing belt within your manufacturers prescribed maintenance intervals and avoid a breakdown and a potentially costly repair job.

About Timing Belts

timing beltAlso known as a timing chain or cam belt, a timing belt is tasked with turning the engines camshaft. Essentially, the timing belt keeps your engine in sync by providing timed motion between the camshaft and the crankshaft.

The crankshaft changes piston linear energy into rotational energy that is used to turn the wheels. The camshaft is tasked with opening and closing the engines valves to bring gas and air into the engine and out again. The timing belt enables two divergent components camshaft and crankshaft to do what they do together. When your belt breaks, your car will stop.

Replacement Intervals

Your manufacturer plainly states in your owners manual the replacement intervals for a timing belt. You may have heard mileage numbers ranging from 60,000 to 100,000 miles. Mechanics may recommend that you change it once every four to six years, even if you have not reached the mileage threshold. Made of rubber with high-tensile fibers, a timing belt can wear down from use as well as from age. Ultimately, you will want to schedule a timing belt replacement before your manufacturer says that it is due.

When replacing a timing belt, your mechanic may recommend that you also replace the tensioners and idlers that hold the timing belt in place. If either part is worn or loose, it could cause your replacement timing belt to fail soon after it has been installed. Thus, a timing system replacement that includes the belt, an idler and a tensioner may be the best approach here.

And while you are at it, you may want to have the water pump replaced while your mechanic is working in the same area. You will pay more for a complete timing system replacement and a water pump change out, but you will save on labor when your pump eventually does fail.

Possible Damage

One area of possible concern for car owners is the type of engine that they have. Yours is either interference or it is free running and the former can cause you much trouble if the timing belt suddenly breaks.

Quite possibly, an open valve could be hit by a piston in motion, damaging your engine internally. If that happens, you will need to be towed to a garage and have your belt replaced. If your mechanic detects engine damage you are looking at a possible engine replacement, costing you thousands of dollars to fix.


How Stuff Works: How Timing Belt Replacement Works

Gates: Timing Belt Care Spring/Summer

See AlsoShould I Repair or Replace My Car?

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Author: Matthew Keegan
Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.

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