2004 Hyundai Sonata, Timing Belt Replacement/Maintenance

On a recent visit to my local Hyundai dealer it was suggested that the timing belt (among other things) be replaced.

The issue is that although the car is 9 years old it only has 35,000 miles and has been lightly used. But the dealer says that because of the heat (I live in Louisiana) and the age of the car timing belt should be replaced even though it isn’t scheduled for another 25,000 miles.

I’m also being told that the water/coolant pump should be replaced at the same time because it is in the same area, and should it fail later most of the labor would have to be carried out all over again.

Bottom line is that if I carry out all of the “maintenance” being suggested I’m looking at about $1,200. And if I don’t do it and the belt fails I’m looking at pretty much replacing the engine.

The question is; does the timing belt REALLY need to be replaced? Does it REALLY get affected by heat and age?

And if it in fact DOES need to be replaced, should I replace the coolant pump at the same time? I DO know the pump and the belt come as part of a kit.

Strangely enough no one has mentioned replacing the belt tensioner, is that included as part of the belt replacement?

Many thanks in advance.

9 years is getting very long in the tooth for a timing belt and yes the heat probably does make the belt deteriorate even faster then a cooler climate. You’re probably at least 2 years past the best before date on the belt and are living on borrowed time. You definitely should heed the dealers advice and replace the belt, water pump and the tensioner too while you’re at it. $1200 seems a little pricey though, so perhaps a good independent garage might be more economical.


If the OP doesn’t believe the folks at the dealership, all he/she has to do is to open the glove compartment, take out the Owner’s Manual/Maintenance Schedule, and see what the vehicle’s manufacturer has to say on the issue.

Every major maintenance procedure has an elapsed time value, as well as an odometer mileage value, with the proviso, “whichever comes first”. If the odometer mileage value for this procedure is 60k miles, as the OP seems to indicate, more than likely the elapsed time value will be 5 years. If that is the case, then the OP appears to be about 4 years overdue for this vital maintenance–but I am just guessing about the interval for this specific model. The only way to get the “official” version is to look at that maintenance schedule.

Vehicle maintenance shouldn’t be a mystery, and simply reading what the vehicle’s mfr lists in the maintenance schedule should eliminate the mystery aspect. Trust me–your car will last much longer, will be more reliable, and will cost you less in repairs in the long run if you begin to read and follow the maintenance schedule that the mfr provided.

Please tell us if your owner’s manual gives a replacement time and if that time is more or less than nine years. Then we can go from there.

It’s a Hyundai (cheap) owner, er car.

That is high for a belt and pump replacement. Use the mechanic finder to find a good independent mechanic and save yourself $600.

Thank you for all the replies, just a couple of asides:

VDCdriver: Just because the dealer says something doesn’t make it true, they are after all a business and their purpose is to make money. The owner’s manual cannot be completely trusted either, that there is a laundry list of parts that need to be replaced at the same time as the timing belt is conveniently NOT listed.

lion9car: As mentioned above, the owner’s manual doesn’t tell the whole story, it also recommends that I use Hyundai motor oil.

Cavell: nooooo, it’s a Hyundai (poor) owner…

“Just because the dealer says something doesn’t make it true, they are after all a business and their purpose is to make money. The owner’s manual cannot be completely trusted either, that there is a laundry list of parts that need to be replaced at the same time as the timing belt is conveniently NOT listed.”

I did not mean to imply that you should trust the dealership. My intention all along was that you consider the list of maintenance procedures in the Owner’s Manual as your guide. What I failed to mention is that the maintenance schedule should be considered to be the absolute minimum of what you should be doing, and that frequently more than that minimum level of maintenance is a good idea.

However, since you have apparently overlooked the timing belt service for X number of months/years, then I would say that you haven’t been doing even the minimum as it applies to the timing belt!

The bottom line is that, on the basis of elapsed time, you need to replace the timing belt, water pump, serpentine belt, and all belt tensioners. Some engines also call for the replacement of some engine seals at the same time, but I don’t know if this applies to your engine. If the dealership has recommended that all of these parts should be replaced, then actually it does appear that your dealership can be trusted.

It’s good to be skeptical of what the dealership service writer/manager says.
If the Owner’s Manual included all details it would be much thicker and even fewer people would bother with it.
I’ve never heard of a timing belt rated to last 9 years.

Rubber rots with age and that is why you need to get the belt replaced. Modern belts are made with a better rubber compound, in the late 80’s, early 90’s, 4 years was the max recommended time interval. I have experienced a broken belt. Would it break on a nice sunny day close to home, nooo, it had to brake while on a cross country trip, out in the middle of nowhere during an ice storm. Thank God I had a warm sleeping bag with me to keep me warm until I got rescued.

Back to your problem, if you have an interference engine and the belt breaks, you are looking at major engine damage. That $1200 will suddenly become more like $5000. But I think that $1200 is way too much. I have a Honda now and just had the second timing belt replaced (97 Honda) with water pump, balance shaft belt, cam, crank and oil pump seals, serpentine belt, and coolant all for $735, at the dealer. Honda’s are the most difficult timing belts to replace as far as I know because the engine turns in the opposite direction making removal of the crank bolt close to impossible without special tools.

You should be able to get this service done for half of what the dealer is asking. The dealer should be able to do it for half of what they are asking and still make money. Check around and negotiate. Its a business transaction so make sure you get the best price for identical work and beware if someone offers you a price that is too good. My guess is that anything lower than $525 would be very suspect and should be avoided.


My timing belt is rated at 90K/9 years

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