Timing Belt Replacement

Timing belt replacement is a necessary service that every car owner should know about. Along with that knowledge, you also need to know if your engine is considered an interference engine or not. This information can help prevent unexpected breakdowns, timing belt breaks or even avoid thousands of dollars in repairs.

Without a timing belt

Without a timing belt, the synchronization between the crank and cam shafts would not go well. In an interference engine, these two parts are moving while the valves open and close near the pistons. It's called interference because if the timing belt jumps a tooth on the sprocket or the belt fails at all, then the valves and pistons will interfere with one another.

This kind of collision can cause serious damage to the engine and cause the timing belt breaks. If you have an older vehicle, the repair bill might be greater than the actual value of the car. If, on the other hand, your engine isn't configured this way, you will just lose power to the vehicle or it won't start. While this might seem better than facing costly repairs, it's best avoided altogether, if possible.

Replacing a timing belt before it breaks and causes extra damage is the best option. But how do you know when to replace it? Check the owner's manual, it will indicate the recommended mileage for a new belt (between 50,000 to 90,000 miles). For a comprehensive list of timing belt service intervals and the type of engine (interference or not), you might want to read more on About.com.

Some other considerations relative to timing belt replacement are:

  • If your vehicle leaks any type of fluid, it can degrade or weaken the belt. If this is the case, have your belt replaced as soon as possible and repair the leak!
  • Recently purchase a used car and don't know the repair history? If you're not sure, err on the side of caution and replace the belt.
  •  Belt replacement can be very labor intensive. Since it can be reached at the same time, consider replacing your water pump at the same time, even if it doesn’t leak. You will save on labor and possibly prevent a pump replacement that is just going to require the belt to be replaced again.
  • You might also want to consider replacing sprockets and tensioners that are part of the timing belt system. These components are sometimes sold as part of a kit, making them less expensive than if you purchased them individually.

All service intervals should be followed in order to protect your investment and maintain the integrity of your warranty. In the case of the timing belt, it just makes sense.

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