CR-V Timing Belt: Gates "racing" belt vs. Gates "regular" belt

I got such good feedback on my earlier question of the day (to use, or not to use, Zerex water pump lube)that I’m posting another question here about another new product I just learned about: Gates “racing” timing belts, which they tout as 3x stronger than their regular belts, with more wear resistance in the teeth. For my CR-V, Gates recommends that the “regular” belt be changed at 105k miles. But I’m thinking, at my next belt change, why not try a “racing” belt? If it’s so much stronger and wear-resistant, shouldn’t it last a lot longer? If I can get an extra 50k miles out of a timing belt by spending an extra $50 on the part, sounds like a value proposition to me. But I haven’t been able to find any mention of expected life of the “racing” belt on the Gates site. I’ll email them the question. But meanwhile, does anyone have experience with Gates “racing” timing belts, and what is the expected life in “normal” service?

I don’t have any experience with them, but if they cost $50 more just for the belt I’d say forget about it. Also don’t put one in and expect to go 50k miles past the due date for your next timing belt. You should just get the normal one. If the racing type were so much better, every auto maker would just use that type rather than the “normal” kind.

No experience with the product but typically when items are designed for racing applications you can’t take this design and say it will last longer in a “daily driver”. What you can conclude is that the belt will excell in a racing environment. Belts look good (but if you take it off to look at it you might as well replace it) right up until the moment they break.

I’ll bet expected life is no longer than the normal belt, just that the ‘racing’ belt is designed for more constant high stress that racing tends to subject the engine to. You’ll not get the benefits you think you’ll get.

Also, be careful. A lot of ‘racing’ parts may actually need more frequent replacement, since they are designed for more extreme conditions, but may trade off actual duration of service life. A lot of guys I know that race (legitimate, not street) use a lot shorter replacement intervals than most common street cars. They change the oil and filters between races (often only after 100 miles or so), and replace belts and hoses every year if not sooner. A broken one of these can cost a race, which is money and glory.

For the record, a Gates rep responded to my email question by saying that Gates has no recommended replacement interval for the racing belt, and that its service life would depend on my engine condition. I guess that’s Gates’ way of avoiding liability in the tuner’s market when someone’s 400 HP tweaked engine blows up because their “racing” belt breaks after they beat the heck out of it for XXX,000 miles. Anyway, I like experiments, so next time around I’m going to try the racing belt, inspect it periodically, and see how it holds up. If it is indeed 3x stronger, with better tooth reinforcement and higher temperature resistance than their regular belt, it should last longer.

Just be aware that timing belts, racing or otherwise, usually look PERFECT right up until the moment they break.

You’re taking a huge risk if you think you can stretch the belt replacement interval.

I’m inclined to agree with you that it should last longer, but this won’t help your water pump or timing belt tensioner last longer.

Not to get totally off topic (my comments relate to products labled “racing”). I remember when Valvoline used to promote motor oil with a “racing” description on the lable. My auto shop teacher in the 60’s related that this did not mean that oil change intervals were increased, in fact he did not know what extra features were contained in oil with the “racing” lable from Valvoline.

Agreed, but that’s because oil gets contaminated with combustion by-products regardless of the oil formulation itself, even if it’s synthetic. Different situation.

Several motorcycles use link belts that seem to last many thousands of miles being hammered with high torque acceleration and sustained speeds. Are timing belts make of the same material?

Gates is giving away a free “timing belt inspection tool” on their website. I didn’t look at it very closely but maybe I’ll sign up for one and see what it does. I was under the impression that there were specific “wear signs” to look for. Agreed it’s impossible to predict in advance exactly when a belt will break, but aren’t there telltale signs, like cracking and tooth wear?

Most often, a timing belt will not show any signs at all of fatique, cracking, etc. It may look perfect up to the nano-second that it breaks.

While I did not look at the site to see what kind of free tool this is I do not see any tool existing that will determine the condition of a timing belt.
However, I could see a tool being used to check belt deflection based on wear and/or stretch. If this is what the tool does then that’s a pretty shaky method to determine whether the belt needs to be replaced or not and certainly not a method I would rely on.

Racing belts have greater tensile strength to better withstand the higher loads placed on them, but the elastomers impregnating the fibers are no different and the life cannot be expected to be longer. As a matter of fact, racing components in general are not generally designed for long life. Racers rebuild engines routinely to e great extend, drag racers after every run, and strength is paramount over long term durability. Race tires, for example, stick like glue but probably wouldn’t even last you 2,000 miles.

It’s a mistake to think that racing components will last longer simply because they’re stronger. Unless you plan to race, you’re better to stay with the OEM replacement belt and change the belt on schedule.

The elastomers in the Gates racing belt are, in fact different from the elastomers in their regular belts. Their racing belts use hydrogenated nitrile, which has superior mechanical properties (abrasion resistance, tear resistance, and load bearing) as compared to the EPDM compound in their regular belts. Better elastomers, more/stronger fibers, stronger teeth…hard to see how that’s not going to last longer than a regular belt.

Correction: the “free tool” I mentioned earlier appears to be for inspecting accessory belts, not timing belts.

Anyhow, I think this thread shows the lack of data on the life expectancy of the Gates racing timing belt under “normal” service conditions, 'cause no one, not even Gates, can give me an answer backed up by test data.

I stand corrected. And I truely appreciate the information.

But in general I still think it’s a mistake to assume that racing components will last longer, and I still believe the best choice in most cases is the recommended OEM replacement component. Unless, of course, the application is other than stock.

It’s also highly unlikely that a racing component is ever going to see 5k miles of use before being replaced again, much less 60k.

Yes, if you’re talking NASCAR…but the Gates “racing” belts are specifically targeted at the “tuner” market, for guys who tweak their Honda Civics for autocrossing but still drive them to work every day, and expect their “racing” belts, hoses, etc, to last at least as long as OEM parts.

Update: just found a quote from the Gates people. According to someone who bought one of these belts, the Gates warranty reads: “The belt must be replaced at the shorter specified interval determined by Gates as belt manufacturer or original equipment car manufacturer. Failure to do so may result in catastrophic engine damage, for which Gates hereby disclaims all responsibility…” Clearly written by the lawyers, 'cause they can’t control how badly the “tuners” beat on their engines…but I’d still wager that the racing belt beats the regular belt in longevity under normal driving conditions.

More and more evidence, yet you continue to be in denial.

It’s your car, but it sounds like a high wager to me. I like my car too much for all-or-nothing experiments like this. This is an interference engine, and a snapped belt means crippling engine damage. Gamble away.

Seems to me the OP asked a question, but is looking for only a particular answer.