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Does it realllly need a timing belt?

The car is a 1997 geo with 100,000 miles. My boyfriend is a graduate student and only is keeping the car until the end of the PhD in a year. He doesn’t have time to drive more than…well there is an occasional grocery trip or night out. The car will probably be driven less than 1000 miles in the year. How big of a gamble is not replacing the timing belt?

How big of a gamble are you willing to take? Belts break eventually, and yours is on borrowed time. If the engine is an interference type engine, a broken belt will probably ruin this engine. The best case is that it leaves your boyfriend stranded somewhere, requiring a tow and repair which at that point will cost more than just getting the belt replaced now.

ditto on borrowed time , if it’s never been done before. If he plans on selling soon , the car will be worth more and sell sooner when you can show major maintainance is fresh and up to date.

Let me add that timing belts also get old even if they don’t get used often. So even before that 100,000 miles it may be past due. As noted if it goes at best the car will stop all at once, at worse it can cause an accident, or it may just damage the engine bad enough to require a transplant.

If he decides not to replace it you should be sure to tell the next owner about it-otherwise you may be selling someone a future giant paperweight.

There is definitely a gamble involved. GEO prescribes the safe interval in the manual in years or mileage(whichever first) with a factor of safety built in.

If it were me I would forgo it given this vehicle is not a critical component of his life. 1000 miles in one year is hardly worth spending the money on IMHO.

This is a non-interference engine, so loosing the timing belt will just disable the car. This always tends to happen when you least expect or need it to. Make sure you buy a good pair of walking shoes. Chances are, it will break when you are the furthest from help.

Has he had this car since new and knows the timing belt has never been changed? It is highly unlikely that the original belt would have lasted this long so I’m guessing he doesn’t know the cars history. Chances are that the belt has been changed at least once, maybe even twice.

Which GEO? Some were derived from cars that had a timing chain. The Prizm may have a chain. I don’t know about the Metro.

My 1996 Neon made it 12 years and 125,000 miles on the original belt before I had it replaced. The previous owner, my sister, let it go knowing she was getting rid of the car - with an interference engine, no less.

My point? Sometimes you get lucky and it’ll last a long time. Sometimes the belt breaks early. You never know.

I’m with Andrew. Don’t bother changing it, but tell the next owner when you sell it. Just make sure he has a cell phone, AAA, and winter survival gear (blanket, bottled water, etc) in the trunk.

Look at the owner’s manual. I had a 95’ Prizm and it was my dad’s car before it was mine, the belt was changed WELL before 100 grand. The owner’s manual should specify “replace at x miles or x months, whichever occurs first.” If the car sits around a lot the belt will start to rot and crack. Not only are you risking being stranded, if you want to sell this car you will have to negotiate it down to around $500-$600 less than it’s street value. Or you could just trade it in. Safety should always come before $$$ though, in any case.

There is Geo Tracker, Geo Prizm, Geo Storm. There are several engines. All have timing BELTS. Some are interference fit. Some are not. We’re lucky that the poster was so specific!..(not). Is this endemic?

It is a NON INTERFERENCE engine. Even if the belt fails no damage to the engine occurs.