How Neglecting Your Vehicle’s Timing Belt Can Cost You

In order for your engine to perform effectively, the pistons within the combustion chambers must synchronize perfectly with the opening and closing of your intake and exhaust valves. The timing of your pistons and valves is influenced by a number of parts. One of them is your timing belt (TB). It replaced the chains that were used in vehicles long ago. The advantage is that they make less noise and they’re less expensive to produce. The downside is that they’re less durable than chains.

This article will explain the reasons you should replace your timing belt according to the factory-recommended maintenance schedule in your owner’s manual. Every make and model is different. On some cars, the belt should be changed at 60,000 miles. On others, the job can wait until 100,000 miles. You’ll discover below why neglecting to change it can end up costing you thousands of dollars in the long run.

Potential Damage To Your Engine

Your timing belt is made of rubber and reinforced with fiberglass. After continuous use over tens of thousands of miles, it suffers wear and tear. The rubber begins to degrade from heat stress, age, and the breakdown of the various chemicals used to manufacture it. It eventually loses its integrity, which can cause it to snap or slip a notch. Both circumstances can lead to extensive engine damage.

The type of engines that use a TB are called interference and non-interference assemblies. While the belt should be replaced periodically in both types, it is the former that poses the biggest – and potentially, the most expensive – problem. If the timing belt breaks or slips on an interference engine, the pistons can slam into the intake and exhaust valves. The valves will bend while the pistons break. While replacing the snapped or slipped TB can be relatively expensive, the cost of fixing the valves and pistons is even higher.

One of the problems with timing belts is that they usually fail unexpectedly. They’re difficult to check. That’s the reason you should follow the recommended interval in your owner’s manual.

Finding Replacement Parts

A lot of automakers stop manufacturing certain engine components after several years. They do so because they expect the vehicles to be retired by their owners. In older cars where the owners have not replaced the TB, there is a chance that a failure could lead to a problem locating necessary parts.

For example, finding replacement pistons might be difficult. The crankshaft and camshaft may be also difficult to replace in the event they suffer damage. If these components cannot be replaced easily or affordably, you may need to retire your car sooner than you would have done otherwise.

Can You Replace It Yourself?

In a word, yes. If you have the appropriate tools and few extra hours to spare, you can replace your timing belt on your own. However, it’s worth highlighting that the job can be difficult, especially on front-wheel drive vehicles. If you intend to do it yourself, have a shop manual nearby for reference. The manual should also list the tools you’ll need to complete the job.

What About Your Water Pump?

A lot of mechanics suggest that you replace your water pump while changing your TB, even if the pump shows no signs of failure. The reason is because most of the work necessary to replace the timing belt is also necessary to swap out the pump. If you change the former without changing the latter, and the pump fails later, you’ll end up paying twice for what amounts to the same repair job. Many mechanics suggest playing it safe and replacing both at the same time.

The takeaway is this: replace your car’s timing belt as soon as you reach the mileage interval recommended in your owner’s manual. Neglecting to do so can be an expensive mistake.

Timing Belt – What Should You Do With It?

A timing belt is a mechanical tool that transfers motion to the camshaft from the crankshaft of a reciprocating internal-combustion engine and sometimes it also transfers motion to some of the engine driven accessories. By connecting crankshaft to the camshaft, it will keep the cams turning at the same rate as the crank at a certain variable ratio. It will make sure the right valves are opened at the right time every time a stroke is made by a piston.

So for simplicity let’s just say that piston connects to crankshaft, and crankshaft connects to camshaft, and camshaft connects to valve.

Timing belt is cheaper to manufacture than timing chains or gears, it’s also quieter when operated. A timing belt doesn’t need lubrication. But one disadvantage of timing belt is you need to replace it every certain interval.

When the timing belt slips just by one tooth, the engine stops operating. In several cars it will produce costly damage especially to the pistons and valves. When the timing belt drops or fails, you will not be able to start the engine. If this happens you should not try starting the engine again.

How to Check Belts:

1. Turn off your engine.

2. Open the hood of your car.

3. Find the belts, they are located on the very front of your engine. If you have a rear wheel drive car, the front of your engine is usually adjacent to the front bumper and the radiator. Otherwise if it’s a front wheel drive car then the front of of the engine is often adjacent to the fender.

4. Note that there are 2 or more belts, it depends on the car models.

5. Press lightly with thumb at the belt’s longest part between pulleys. Do this on each belt.

6. Find out the normal tension for your belts. It’s in the car’s manual. Normally belts cannot have more than one inch of “give” in both direction.

7. Evaluate those belts as you press them. If the belt is cracked or can be easily pushed more than one inch, then it’s highly advised to replace with a new one.

To prevent damage and costly repair, a timing belt should be replaced every 60,000 miles.

Timing Belt Replacement – Your Ultimate Guide

Timing belt replacement though not very easy to perform, can be accomplished in your garage or driveway. Replacing the timing belt is more difficult than changing a fan belt and integrates much more work. When substituting the timing belt, it is best to change the water pump as well since it is imperative to be removed in the process. Learn about the appropriate ways in replacing vehicle timing belt by performing these steps.

1. Detach the car battery and take the distributor cap. If your vehicle doesn’t have a distributor, make certain that the cam position sensor is TDC or Top Dead Center.

2. Turn the engine to ensure that the timing mark placed on the crankshaft pulley is situated in “O” mark from the timing scale. You should turn the engine until you’ve aligned the index mark on the distributor housing with the distributor rotor.

3. Take the screws, bolts, other parts and belts that impede the belt replacement. Keep in mind that each belt is different and has diverse parts.

4. Release the tensioner of the belt as well as the mounting bolts, but don’t just remove them. Get the tensioner away from the belt, then stiffen and tighten the mounting bolts to carry the tensioner in its right place.

5. Glide the timing belt off and take it away from the engine. It should effortlessly slide off after the tensioner is slackened off.

6. Replace it with a brand new one and just reverse these steps.

When performing replacement, you should not forget to read and comprehend the manual instructions. You should familiarize yourself on how complicated it is to torque the tensioner bolts and other bolts when changing essential car components. In addition, you should maintain the marks on the pulleys suitably arranged in a line at all times.

When to Replace Your Timing Belt

Keeping your car running properly saves money, both in daily gas mileage costs and in repair costs. The timing belt is one of the most critical internal components of a car’s engine, and timing belt failure is catastrophic. It can completely ruin an engine, making the cost to replace and repair the damage more than the value of the car. With this in mind, it is important to know when to have the timing belt changed.

You can prevent unnecessary extra costs and damage to your car by paying attention to a few important things.

• For new cars, check the owner’s manual for timing belt change intervals. Write down the mileage on the car inside the manual when you have the belt changed.

• If you purchased a used car, check under the hood for a sticker giving the mileage of the last change. If there is no sticker, have the belt changed just to be safe.

• Consult your mechanic or dealership. They can examine it and determine if there are signs of wear or damage that indicates the belt needs changing.

• Many car manufacturers and mechanics recommend changing timing belts every 60,000 to 75,000 miles. Even if your owner’s manual indicates the belt does not need changing until 100,000 miles, many mechanics recommend doing it before 80,000 miles.

• If you live in a climate with temperature extremes, timing belts need replacement more frequently than those in milder climates.

• Periodically have your mechanic inspect yours during routine maintenance. They check for cracks, chips or missing teeth or ribbing. Mechanics also look for spots of coolant or oil. If any damage is noted, do not delay changing the belt.

• Listen to your car during engine start-up and idling. If you hear a high-pitched shrieking or whirring sound, it is in trouble. Replace it immediately.

• If your car has trouble starting, or the engine takes several tries to catch and start, a damaged one is a likely cause. Have the issue checked by your auto shop immediately.

• If your engine suddenly stops and the car will not start, you have probably experienced a failure. You will need to have your car towed to your mechanic for repairs.

• Change your timing belt according to the recommendations of your mechanic and the car manufacturer, even if you detect no symptoms of problems. This will prevent expensive damage later.

Have a professional replace your timing belt. Often, many other internal components must be removed to access the belt. The belt may need to be ordered from a parts warehouse. After replacing the belt, the mechanic synchronizes the internal workings of the engine using special procedures, tools and machines.