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Change honda timing belt because of age only?

I have a 2002 honda civic LX automatic. It only has 16,000 miles because the previous owner didn’t drive it very often. The owners manual says to change the belt at 100,000 miles or every 7 years. The car is now 8 years old but with such low mileage, do I need to change it? In other words, can age alone deteriorate the belt?



Yes, change it. Things like ozone deteriorate rubber without driving the car. Don’t risk major engine damage (if it’s an interference engine), or being stranded somewhere. This is normal maintenance.


Belts are made of rubber, which deteriorates with age, and although Honda belts are well made, you are past the age of replacement. I would change it and also check the tensioner. At such a low mileage you don’t need to replace the water pump, which we normally recommend as well.

Yes, age alone deteriorates the belt, that’s why there’s a mileage and a time interval for replacing the timing belt.

If the belt breaks the engine will suffer expensive internal damage. Replacing the belt is cheap insurance.

You only need to change it if you want to avoid catastrophic engine failure with very high repair costs.

If you replace the timing belt, water pump, serpentine belt, and all belt tensioners now, you can probably get the job done for ~$600.

Alternatively, you could wait until the belt snaps (without warning), and then pay ~$2,000 for engine repairs plus the $600 that will still need to be spent on the belts, water pump, and tensioners.

Another point to ponder is:
What happens if the timing belt snaps when I am driving on the highway?
Answer: Your engine immediately dies, you lose power assist for the steering, and you will have only enough power reserve in your power brake booster for one or two good pushes on the brake pedal. Imagine this happening while you are in the passing lane, in the midst of 18-wheelers.

It’s your call.

Beyond the timing belt I would suggest changing out your brake fluid, transmission fluid, and coolant at this age. Hopefully you did not overpay for the “low mileage” however things degrade.

Then again if you only plan on a 1-2 ownership period there will always be a risk of serious engine damage and breakdown but I would bet it does not happen.

If age didn’t deteriorate it, they wouldn’t say “or 7 years”. Change it now unless you want to gamble on a major engine repair or replacement.

I’m convinced, and will get the belt changed.

Thanks for the helpful responses.


Too late for you this time, but look for a car (like a Nissan) next time with timing chains. Totally eliminates the timing belt issue.