Has anyone recently had their belts changed? I own a 2002 Mitusbishi Lancer, and it’s time to change the transmission belt. My mechanic tells me that I should be changing all the belts and the water pump at the same time. He wants to charge me over $800 for all this. Is this a reasonable price to pay? Do I really need to change all the belts at the same time?

Your mechanic is probably talking about replacing the camshaft drive belt (timing belt) and water pump at the same time as the accessory drive belts. This would account for the price.

You can’t see the belt I’m talking about when you open the hood, because it’s under a cover, but replacing it at the proper interval is very important because if it breaks the engine will suffer significant internal damage.

I recommend replacing the timing belt and water pump along with the other belt(s) and the price you quote is not out of line for this job.

Transmission belt? Unless you are driving a 1960s-era DAF with Variomatic transmission, there is no transmission belt on your car. What your mechanic probably told you was that the TIMING belt is due for changing.

The clue that your mechanic was talking about the timing belt is that it is normal–and desirable–to replace the water pump and the serpentine belt at the same time as the timing belt. Your mechanic has given you good advice.

As to the price, this sounds a little bit high to me, but I am not very familiar with Mitsubishis. You might want to phone several other mechanics and the Mitsu dealership for comparison price quotes. Be sure to specify the same things to every place that you call, namely, timing belt, water pump, and serpentine belt. Believe it or not, the dealerhip may have a very competitive price for this maintenance.

You’re right, I meant the timing belt. I just talked to someone from the dealership who told me that I don’t really need to change the water pump at the same time as the belts. Price (without the pump): about $700. So I think the other mechanic’s price ($800, including the pump) is probably about right.

No, you don’t “need” to replace the water pump at the same time, but if (when?) the water pump fails in another 20,000 miles or so, you will incur the same labor costs again (plus the cost of the part itself) in order to replace it. If you replace the water pump at the same time as the timing belt, serpentine belt, and the belt tensioners, you will pay only for the water pump.

It is considered to be a very wise proactive maintenance step to replace the water pump at the same time as the timing belt, as it has the potential to save labor costs as well as to prevent engine damage from a failed water pump.

If you don’t replace the water pump to save $100 how will you feel if the water pump goes out a year from now and you have to pay again for basically the same labor as changing the timing belt?

Clearly, I need to read more about water pumps. But I assumed that since Mitsubishi doesn’t recommend replacing it until 120k miles, it’s not urgent.

If your water pump is the original, I recommend you get it and all belts replaced. I had this done last year at a Goodyear shop for about $550. Shop around for a better price.

Viginia, what is the mileage on your car? Agree that with normal driving, at 7 years you would normally change the belts mentioned. However, I drive 6000-7000 miles per year an my neighbor has a 2004 Ford Focus with only 8000 miles on it. So, if you drive very little there is no immediate rush, but I would do it in the next year. Rubber deteriorates with TIME as well as with MILEAGE.