What is a timing belt and why is it so important to replace them?
Timing belts actually can serve several tasks. The biggest thing a timing belt does is connect the crankshaft to the camshaft. The timing belt is very similar to a serpentine belt however has hundreds of little teeth on the belt itself. If the timing belt is off just one tooth the engine may run rough or may not even run at all. Like the serpentine belt, timing belts age over time and start to crack. Once a timing belt starts to even have tiny cracks, there is a very high risk the belt will snap. Having a broken timing belt will leave you stranded and there’s even a possibility you created significant engine damage.
Timing belts can also run other systems on the car just as your water pump. It is always wise to replace things such as water pumps, tensioners, idlers, etc when servicing the timing belt. Many shops may say they can replace the timing belt for much cheaper, but are they actually replacing all these components? If the water pump decides to start leaking shortly after replacing a timing belt, the entire job must be done again.
So when should you replace your timing belt? Modern vehicles usually don’t allow you to easily see your timing belt, many components must be removed just to have a glance at the belt. This is the biggest contributor to the higher price in replacing a timing belt, but significantly cheaper compared to having to replace an entire engine. Every vehicle and manufacture have different time and mileage intervals but usually every 60,000-100,000 miles or every 7-10 years. Your owners manual will tell you exactly when your timing belt should be replaced. Also you can always call either of our two locations and a service writer will be able to inform you when your belt should be replaced. Some climates can contribute to these numbers as well. Colorado for example, can have very hot and dry days or extreme cold conditions causing the rubber to dry quicker compared to a humid mild climate.
Did you know not every vehicle is equipped with a timing belt? Some vehicles use what’s called a timing chain instead of a timing belt. It’s pretty common on domestic vehicles to use timing chains instead of a timing belt but not the rule. Timing chains do not need to be replaced in a maintenance schedule, but the important thing is knowing if you have a belt or a chain. Simply looking at your engine won’t tell you for sure if you have a chain or belt.
Schedule an appointment at either Honest Accurate Auto Service locations to have an ASE certified technician look at your vehicle. They can help you plan ahead to repair your vehicle before you become stranded from a broken timing belt. Honest Accurate Auto Service has an open door policy where you can always talk to the technician or even look at your vehicle while being serviced. The service writers and technicians are always happy to answer any questions you may have.