Your timing belt choreographs the timing of your combustion process. Your pistons travel up and down in the cylinder. Intake valves open at the right time to let in air and fuel, close at the right time to allow the fuel to burn, and then the exhaust valves open at the right time to let out the exhaust. The timing belt is located on the front of engine and includes other components that require replacement such as idler pulleys and tensioners for the timing belt.
On some engines, the water pump is driven by the timing belt as opposed to the serpentine belt. If that’s the case, it’s a good idea to replace the water pump when you’re replacing the timing belt, and vice versa since much of the same work has to be done for either. The same is true for the timing belt tensioner – it should be inspected and possibly replaced.
All this happens thousands of times a minute, and it’s your timing belt that makes sure the valves are opening and closing at precisely the right time. If the timing is off, your engine won’t run, and that’s the best case. The worst case is that a valve is opening at the wrong time and collides with the piston. This results in bent valves and maybe even more damage to the cylinder head. Repairs can run several thousand dollars.
Replacing a timing belt is one of the more expensive routine maintenance items on your service schedule. But not replacing your timing belt can lead to some of the most expensive repairs you’re likely to ever have.
Why Should You Replace Your Timing Belt?
- Replacing your timing belt will prevent engine damage. If the timing belt breaks, the crankshaft will continue to rotate and raise the pistons up and down. The camshafts will stop rotating and the valves will remain open. The pistons will contact the valves and cause major damage to the valves and pistons, and possibly destroy cylinder walls or the entire engine.
- Timing belt replacement maintains factory warranty. Failure to perform this maintenance causes engine damage and will not be covered under your factory warranty.
- It reduces the risk of breakdowns.
Why Should You Replace Timing Belt Components?
- All of these components have a shelf life, when the timing belt is due for replacement they are as well.
- If any of them fail, the timing will fail also causing engine damage.
- If any of these components fail, you will have the expense of going back through the whole job again. It’s usually a long process to remove the timing covers and timing belt.
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Vehicle Timing Belt Frequently Asked Questions
When should timing belts be replaced?
Most manufacturer recommendations for timing belt replacement are at either 60,000, 90,000, or 100,000 miles. Time is also relevant, the belt is rubber and usually won’t last more than 7-10 years. If oil or antifreeze is found to be leaking into the timing cover the belt should be replaced as well.
What is a timing belt?
The timing belt connects the crankshaft to the camshafts. Usually, the timing belt is also the drive mechanism for the water pump.
What does a timing belt do?
Your timing belt choreographs the timing of your combustion process, if the timing is off, your engine won’t run. It’s your car’s timing belt that makes sure the valves are opening and closing at precisely the right time.