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Do we need to change the timing belt and water pump?

Our recent college graduate daughter has a 1998 Saturn SC1 with about 100,000 miles on it. A couple of years ago we replaced the engine with a rebuilt, so it has about 85,000 miles or more. Last summer she drove from Pennsylvania to Wyoming to work and came home via California. She is due to return to Wyoming in two weeks, and we want to be sure she is driving a safe car. We asked the Saturn repair guy if we shouldnt replace the timing belt (isnt that what they say to do??) and he said no unless it is making noise?

The Saturn repair guy should either go back to school, or tell you that your car has a timing CHAIN, if that is the case. A timing chain generally is replaced when it gets noisy, and that often takes at least 200,000 miles. A timing belt will fail without making any noise, it will just leave you stranded and often wreck your engine in the process.

If it has a belt, 85,000 miles is time to get it changed; I don’t know about the water pump; these are only changed if they are driven by the timing belt and inside the engine cover. Honda and Subarus hve this arrangement.

I would get other posters to express their opinion on this.

What Docnick said.

Actually, just check the manual for recommended interval - but surely 85K is a good number. Assuming it is a belt, not a chain, belts frequently give no warning at all before they go. The engine just suddenly stops.

And it is likely that the belt drives the water pump so the water pump is often replaced with the belt - just b/c so much of the cost/aggravation of the belt change is in the labor it takes, and there is no point in doing it twice.

double check the year. the 98 used a chain. verrrrrrrrrry dependable. the water pump on the other hand. well, if it were my daughter, i’d replace it.

oh yeah, the chain costs around $25 or so. its not a huge cost, but the labor is. they usually last to 200000

Well, the chain thing is probably why he told us to listen to the engine… I probably asked him the wrong question. Responses are very helpful so far. Thanks!

As cappy208 says, forget about the timing chain. It’s that dependable. Have your repair shop (preferably an independence shop --for economic reasons) perform the scheduled maintenance. Have a few things replaced which may not be on that schedule: spark plugs, upper and lower radiator hoses, serpentine drive belt, drain and replace the coolant, and possibly other things. Ask your trusty mechanic.

and the 64,000 dollar answer is… take it to a local reputable mechanic. there is NO reason to use a dealership for out of warranty work.

ask friends, co workers, and friends fro recommendations.

Docnick’s answer was great. Your engine has a chain, and it’ll start making a rattling/clacking noise when it wears out if ever. And the water pump on a car with a timing chain does not have to be changed as a preventative maintenance step.

Having said that, you best step is to take the car to a good independent garage and have it gone over thoroughly. He’ll look at the brakes, coolant, lubricants, ball joints, tie rod ends, headlights, brakelights, and a whole bunch of other important stuff for any signs of needed repairs.

Wow! This is all so helpful! She just told me she has 135,000 on this car, so more than I thought. It has been a great car so far. Her Dad checked and there is no engine noise, so tomorrow we will make an appointment with our local shop to get everything else done. Lots of things we didnt think of! Thanks!

All you might need is a normal coolant change, and of course an oil change if its due. If safety is your main concerns, I’d check the tires and brakes. Its more important to be able to stop than go.

The issue with the water pump is that (on my Civic at least) it is down deep in the engine along with the timing belt (chain).
The pump itself is relatively inexpensive so I get mine replaced with the timing belt to avoid the high labour charge to go in a second time to replace the water pump in the (albeit unlikely) event that it does malfunction.

Bobby, you’re doing the right thing. The water pump on your Civic is driven by the timing belt, a slight added cost to change since the mechanic is already there, and if it were to go it could take out the entire engine since it would also take out the timing belt.

The original poster’s water pump is a bolted on part seperate from the timing chain and if it were to blow it would not disable the system that synchronizes the camshafts. As long as the engine did not overheat, there would be no additional damage.