Acura mdx 2003

Hi - I am so happy to be a member. I listen to CarTalk all the time and love it. My question is: other than the mileage count, is there any other way of knowing when my timing belt (chain) is about to pop? Are there warning lights or signs? I have 76,000 miles on my car and am wondering if I’m pushing the envelop. I live on Long Island, NY - winters are not too severe.



Th manufacturer wrote the PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE manual so you can PREVENT failure. Since the belt is hidden, and would cost a lot of money to inspect, Acura goes by a safe replacement interval which is determined from fatigue and “run to failure” tests so that the recommended change interval vitually eliminates failure.

In other words, the time or mileage indicated in your owner’s amnual should be followed. It could typically be 7 years or 90,000 miles ; please check the manual.

If your car cost $2 million and the belt was worth $100,000 there would be a method to inspect it regularly and determine a best time to replace it. Since the belt is cheap and it’s hidden, the Acura manual should be followed.

In addition to mileage count there is also a time, usually measured in months, at which the timing belt should be replaced.

The maintenance schedule that came with your MDX should list the replacement interval for the belt. It will say something like XX,000 miles or XX months, whichever comes first.

It’s very important to replace the belt BEFORE it breaks, because if the belt breaks the engine will suffer significant internal damage.

The only way to answer this question is to ask you a question:

Does your vehicle have a timing chain, or does it have a timing belt?

You can determine this by simply referring to the maintenance schedule that is sitting in your glove compartment. If it has a timing belt, the maintenance schedule will list the correct interval for change. It is expressed in terms of both odometer mileage and in terms of elapsed time. An example would be something like “60,000 miles or 5 years”, or “90,000 miles or 6 years”, “105,000 miles or 8 years”, with the proviso being “whichever comes first”.

So, take a look at the lists of maintenance procedures for 60k, 90k, and 105k, to see if changing the timing belt is listed for any of those intervals. If it is not listed, that means that you have a timing chain. Timing chains normally do not need to be changed during the life of the vehicle, and they do tend to give an audible warning (unlike timing belts) when they are becoming a problem.

If you have never before consulted the maintenance schedule in your glove compartment, it is very possible that you have ignored other vital maintenance procedures, so even though a delay of 6 years in using the maintenance schedule is not a good thing, I would suggest that you do begin to use what was provided for you by the manufacturer.

Incidentally, the severity of your winters has nothing to do with the aging of a timing belt (if you have one) or a timing chain.

Thanks, Docnick - I’m going to check the manual immediately.

I guess I’d better find out if it’s a chain or belt. Coincidentally I have a service appt tomorrow for oil change. I will consult the maintenance schedule and will ask the service people.


Your MDX has a timing belt. The dealer has a financial incentive to get you to change the belt earlier than necessary. Consult the maintenance schedule that came with the vehicle for the CORRECT replacement interval.

There’s no warning before the belt breaks. If it does break, there will be engine damage costing thousands of dollars to fix.

Instead of wondering if you’re pushing it, open your glove compartment and find out.

I’ve saw a guy spend the 2-3 hours to remove and inspect a timingbelt…Said it was find…then replaced it…and two days later it broke…Luckily it WASN’T a interference engine.

The normal interval for Honda engines is 100k miles or 7 years. But check your owners manual to make sure.