I recently took my 2002 Accord in to the dealer for some warranty work. They came back and told that they did a free maintenance checkup for me and found that my timing belt was worn and showed cracks. The recommended that I replace it for $800. I thought it was odd, being that the car only has 56,000 miles on it and Honda recommends that it be changed at 105000. So I called my local mechanic to ask him about it. He said that he doubs that the dealer checked it, because it requires a lot of labor to get to the belt. I asked if i could bring it to him to check, and he said if he goes to that much trouble, he would replace it anyway. How easy would it be for the dealer to “check” my timing belt?
The timing belt is covered, and few dealers would take the trouble on their own expense to visibly inspect it!
Dealers are always on the lookout for additional “scare” work, they want to scare you into letting them do work which is often totally unnecessary! Unless your driving is in Death Valley or the North slope of Alaska, your timing belt should be changed, with the tensioner and water pump at the interval indicated in your owner’s manual.
Having said that in normal driving the original Honda belts have been known to last well OVER 150,000 miles because of the built-in safety margin. The only car where I would replace the timing belt prematuely would be a Volkswagen, who’s belts have been known to expire before the change interval was reached.
Your mechanic is right, the labor needed to just look at the belt forces you to change it, since the belt itself is the cheapest part.
I hope the Honda dealer did not confuse it with the serpentine belt, the one that drives the alternator and other accessories. That belt could easily need replacement at 56,000 miles, since it is exposed the all manner of debris, and wears more rapidly. It’s also a lot cheaper to replace.
I think a dumb/crooked service writer made up this scare story to get his quota up. Also, warranty work pays less than regular service work.
Best not visit this dealer again!
P.S. IF you owner’s manual states 105,000 miles OR SEVEN YEARS, then you should think of changing it! That does not mean it has “cracks” which the service writer’s X-ray eyes detected, but rubber gradually deteriorates as it ages. If this is so, you don’t need to do this tomorrow, just do it this YEAR (2009) so that possible warranty is not voided.