A timing belt is a rubber belt with teeth that connects the camshaft(s) and crankshaft to help the engine run smoothly. The camshaft is a spinning shaft that aids in the proper timing of the engine’s valve opening and closing. Meanwhile, the crankshaft aids in the movement of the pistons up and down. A belt connects the camshaft to the crankshaft, keeping the two assemblies in sync. As a result, the valves open and close at the proper times.
It should be noted that not all automobiles have a timing belt. Instead, some have a timing chain (or, in rare cases, a set of gears).
What causes it to break?
The most common cause of timing belt failure is a lack of maintenance. Because it is made of rubber, the timing belt wills wear and tear over time. When the engine is overheated, the belt naturally loses strength and texture, resulting in a snapped belt. As a result, the timing belt should be replaced according to the manufacturer’s service schedule. The information is detailed in the owner’s manual for your vehicle.
Water pump seizing is another cause of breakage, which is caused by a lack of coolant system maintenance. When the water pump fails, the gears grind to a halt, causing the belt to snap.
How do I know it’s time to replace it?
- Some common indicators of replacement are:
- Based on time and mileage, the dealer recommends replacement.
- Water pump failure
- The engine cranks but does not start.
- When the belt is cold at startup, the timing tensioner makes a ticking sound, which disappears once the belt is warm.
- Leakage of the timing tensioner
- A misfire in the engine and rough running
How much does it cost to replace something, and why?
The cost of a proper timing belt replacement can range from $400 to over $1,000. Timing belt replacements can take several hours, depending on the difficulty of the work. It is also strongly advised to replace the water pump, serpentine belt, timing tensioner, and several seals because these components are time and mileage sensitive and will save you money on labor costs in the future. The total cost will vary depending on the components replaced. Another factor that influences pricing is whether you use dealer-recommended parts or the less expensive option of using aftermarket parts.
What if I fail to replace it?
If the timing belt is not replaced, it can become more expensive. If the timing belt fails, the vehicle must be towed. A snapped timing belt can cost thousands of dollars in repairs. Furthermore, the valves can bend and damage the engine, necessitating engine replacement.
Is it different for every vehicle?
The distinction is whether your vehicle is fitted with a timing belt or a timing chain. In any vehicle, the timing belt works the same way. The timing belt is driven by a belt, whereas the timing chain is driven by a chain.
Can I replace them on my own, or is there something else I can do?
It is strongly advised that your timing belt be replaced by a professional technician or mechanic. Tools, skills, and knowledge are required. If the replacement is not done correctly and the timing on the vehicle is off, it can cause engine damage and cost more money in the long run. Alternatives cannot be used to replace the timing belt.
How can I cut costs on the replacement?
The best way to save money right now is to replace only the car timing belt. Choose aftermarket parts over manufactured parts when replacing the timing belt and other recommended parts.