Timing Belt in car

What are the symptoms of a bad timing belt?

Timing belts are essential to keep your car running. The timing belt connects to the crankshaft in your vehicle. This controls the pistons and valves. The timing belt is reinforced rubber with teeth on the inside of the belt that adjust to the opening and closing of these valves and pistons. They “keep time” essentially with the camshaft along with the crankshaft of the engine. These two components must work in complete harmony to avoid catastrophic and extensive damage.

What does a timing belt do?

The camshaft allows the pistons to move, letting in gasoline and a mixture of air in your vehicle. The crankshaft then moves the engine pistons up and down within the engine cylinders. These movements have to be precisely timed in order for your car’s engine to run correctly. The air and gas mixture must be injected into your car at precisely the correct time and in the correct amount. If this mixture is not introduced into the engine correctly, you will lose power to the engine.

Losing power can cause a loss of fuel economy, and also not allow your engine to run if the timing is off completely. Timing belts are essential to keep this process running in harmony. There is a high risk of engine damage if your timing belt is not working properly. In some cases, the belt can slip off entirely. This would not be a good situation for you when driving.

How long does a timing belt last in a car?

Timing belt replacements are one of the most commonly misunderstood services. The average life is around 60-100k miles. Depending on the make and model of your vehicle these times will change. Different manufacturers have specific years and mileage at which they advise a change. For instance, Toyota recommends that you replace the timing belt in a Camry every 60,000 miles. In a Ford Focus, it is recommended you change your belt every 60,000 to 90,000 miles.

The US Department of Transportation estimates that the average miles driven by an individual are around 13,500 miles. Based upon their estimate, a timing belt change would be required every 4.5 to 7.5 years. To highlight the differences in models for instance, the Volkswagen Jetta (Manual Transmission) allows you to keep your timing belt until 120,000 miles. Based upon all these factors we can safely assume that your timing belt will last on average for 60,000-105,000 miles. Or, will require a change every 8-10 years regardless of mileage.

What are the signs and symptoms of a bad timing belt?

When the timing belt starts to wear out, it may create a ticking sound inside the motor. This warning sign may also be an indication of low oil pressure or the engine not having the proper amount of lubrication. Listed below are a few common symptoms that might indicate that your timing belt is wearing out or has broken – which will require a local ASE certified mechanic to replace the timing belt and inspect other internal engine components for damage.

Not all engines have a timing belt. They are more commonly found in cars and SUV’s with smaller engines. These engines are called displacement engines. The larger engines with a larger bore utilize a timing chain. As the belt begins to wear out or get old there are a few signs and symptoms that you should be aware of. Being aware of these can help you to avoid costly repairs down the road. Remember that your timing belt must be changed by a certified ASE mechanic in order to ensure that it is replaced correctly and to check the rest of the engine components for internal damage if the vehicle has had the problem a while.

When do you know it’s time for a timing belt replacement?

  1. Ticking in the Motor:

As the timing belt begins to wear out you will hear a ticking sound coming from the engine. While this ticking is usually a sign of and old or worn out belt it can also be attributed to low oil pressure or other lubricants. If you notice a ticking noise coming from your engine and all of your fluids are at the correct level, chances are the belt is the issue.

  1. Engine won’t turn over:

When the timing belt is broken you will not even be able to start your vehicle. You may hear a clicking sound when you turn the key but the engine will not fire. This clicking is coming from the starter motor. But when the belt is broken it won’t allow the crankshaft and the camshaft to operate. There are many times that you won’t even know that the timing belt has broken because in many cases the belt fails while driving. This is why it is important to have a mechanic change the belt. He/She can check for further internal damage that was bound to happen while driving. A mechanic at G&G will know how to inspect the more internal components of the vehicle.

  1. Oil leaks in the front of the motor:

If the nuts and bolts that secure the timing belt cover begin to loosen oil begins to seep out and onto the belt. This over time will deteriorate the rubber on the belt. Common overheating occurs when these bolts are loose and can cause premature wearing of the belt. The gasket that is between the cover and the engine block wears out over time and it’s a good idea to have these areas checked periodically.

  1. Engine misfiring:

Worn out timing belts will affect the engine’s fire rate. When the belt has slipped off the camshaft drive, for instance, it will cause the cylinder to open and close earlier than it should. This causes the engine to misfire. When an engine misfires you will hear a loud popping sound. Commonly referred to as a backfire. Backfiring occurs when unburned fuel is expelled out of the cylinder on the exhaust stroke and is ignited deeper in the system than it should. If you notice your car backfiring, get your vehicle in for service as soon as possible.


Why is it important to change a timing belt periodically?

This is not an inexpensive maintenance service. Typical timing belt replacements will run you around $500-$900 in parts and labor. However, as we have stated above if your belt has failed while driving the chances are that repairs will run you upwards of $2000-$2500 in some cases. This is because when a timing belt fails while driving it can cause damage to valves and pistons as well as the water pump. So, be vigilant to change belts per manufacturer’s recommendations. Like we always say: “Routine maintenance is always cheaper than repairs”



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