Timing Belt Replacement

September 27, 2011  

The timing belt in your car needs attention like every other component of the vehicle’s engine. The Timing Belts are designed to need changed between 50,000 and 60,000 miles. Although some are designed for 100,000 frequency change, it is always best to follow your vehicle’s Owner’s Manual for recommended maintenance intervals.

What Does the Timing Belt Do?

The timing belt, in an internal combustion engine, synchronizes the opening/closing of the engine’s valves. Connecting the camshaft to the crankshaft, in a four-stroke engine, the valves open and close with every other complete rotation of the crankshaft. Each engine’s timing belt is designed specifically for that engine. It is not unusual for the timing belt to drive other engine components, like the water pump and/or the oil pump as well.

What Materials are Used to Make Timing Belts?

Typically, timing belts are made of rubber with tension members incorporated along the length of the belt. The high-tensile fibers are usually made from fiberglass or Twaron/Kevlar. More expensive, heat resistant materials like high saturated nitrile (HSN) are used on some after-market belts.

Generally, the belt is protected from oil, antifreeze and water by a metal or polymer cover. Oil, heat and water can each degrade the rubber and the tensile fibers in a timing belt. This cover must be removed to inspect the belt, to determine its condition.

Replacement of Timing Belt

Lynnwood Timing Belt Replacement specialists at Carson Cars Auto Repair recommend that your vehicle’s timing belt be inspected at least once a year once you have driven 50,000 miles. Your vehicle’s Owners Manual will specify mileage intervals for changing the belt in your vehicle. Typically, the interval ranges between 50,000 miles and 90,000 miles.

Because the water pump is in the same general area, it is not unusual for your Lynwood Timing Belt specialist to recommend replacing it when the belt is being replaced. The additional cost for the the water pump is negligible when compared to the labor required to replace the belt. Many manufacturers also recommend replacing the timing belt tensioner at the same time as well.

Timing

If the timing belt is not properly timed, or tensioned, it can lead to premature wear of the belt. Too loose, and the belt will flop around, causing additional wear and tear. Too tight will place undue stress on the tensile fibers and cause the belt to wear more quickly.

Timing Belt Failure

The two most common failures of timing belts are:

  1. Stripped Teeth
  2. Delaminated Tensile Fibers
  3. Belt Tensioner Failure
Should the timing belt break, especially with an interference engine, catastrophic damage to the valves will result. An interference engine is one with little to no space between the valves and the pistons. If the timing belt fails with the valves in the opened position, the pistons could very well slam into the valves. Although valve destruction is virtually guaranteed with an interference engine, a non-interference engine can suffer equally catastrophic damage.
Regardless the type engine your vehicle has, regular replacement of the timing belt is strongly advised. Discuss after market options with your Lynnwood Automotive Service & Repair technician at Carson Cars Auto Repair. Some after-market timing belts are designed to alter engine performance with improved or more distinct timing. Never install a timing belt not designed specifically for your car’s engine. Please remember: if your Owners Manual  or your mechanic recommends replacing other components (water pump, oil pump, belt tensioner, etc.), it will save you money and aggravation down the road.