The Importance of the Timing Belt

To work properly, all of the components of your engine must run at a constant and timed motion. The timing belt is the crucial part that keeps the components of the engine in sync. When it breaks or slips, your engine will not run properly, possibly leaving you stranded. A professional automotive mechanic should regularly inspect your timing belt as part of your vehicle maintenance to ensure that it is not damaged or worn.

Many drivers probably do not realize the importance that the timing belt plays in the performance of your engine. Its purpose is to sync the operations of the engine to achieve optimal performance. The timing belt connects the lower half of the engine, crankshaft and pistons, with the upper half, camshafts, intake and exhaust valves. It keeps the two halves running in time together.

As the car is driven, heat and stress gradually stretch the timing belt. Once it begins to stretch and deteriorate, the teeth of the belt begin to wear out, which can result in it “slipping”, or breaking altogether. In the event of a slip or break, the camshaft positioning can be effected, which has a very low tolerance. This can result in the valves and pistons making contact with each other within the engine, causing destructive damage that is extremely expensive to repair.

If this important component should happen to break or slip while you are driving your vehicle, you will probably experience an abrupt halt in the engine and you may end up coasting to a quick stop. Basically, you will be stranded and you will need to call a tow truck to get your vehicle to an automotive repair shop. A non-functioning belt can cost you money and time.

In order to prevent slipping or breaking, your belt should be regularly inspected by a certified mechanic who specializes in the maintenance of your brand of vehicle. Maintenance should occur routinely so that any potential problems can be identified before costly damages occur. Repairs from damages resulting from a broken or slipped timing belt can be quite expensive. Routine inspection and maintenance should protect you from such an occurrence.

Most timing belts are hidden beneath protective covers and are not readily visible for inspection. This is why you will need to enlist the help of a certified mechanic to determine whether or not it needs to be replaced. Many times, the timing belts also drive the water pump and you usually have to remove the timing belt to replace the water pump. Most often, the water pump will be replaced along with the belt to prevent another labor-intensive repair to occur once the water pump fails.

Replacement can be an expensive procedure, due to the intensive labor required to replace it. However, it is necessary, and one of the most vital preventative repairs you can ever have performed on your vehicle. The interval for replacement varies by vehicle manufacturer and the type of engine, but is normally recommended every 60,000 to 90,000 miles (consult your vehicle owner’s manual). If your vehicle is approaching this milestone or already passed it, do not delay in getting the timing belt replaced.