I have/had a tigra.a few weeks ago it was making a noise,I was advised it was the water pump (got a quote of ?160 to repair)anyway a few days passed and i decided to get it fixed,rang closest garage told them i thought it was the water pump and asked them if it would be ok to drive the car to the garage. they said that would be ok.anyway to cut a long story short 2 days later they rang to tell me after they had PUSHED the car from the parking lot into the garage then discovered that my cam belt was worn/broken and that a few pistons and valves had been damaged the estimate for the work is ?690 (the cars only worth ?500).what I would really like to know is can the pistons and valves be damaged before the cam belt other words when i drove the car the half mile to the garage it was working yes it was very noisey but it worked.Did the garage start my car and damage the pistons and valves.PLEASE any help would be great ive spent days on the web reading about cam belts etc and had no joy.just want to know can pistons and valves be damaged before belt actually snaps.regards Paula


I will attempt to answer your question in a general fashion, rather than a specific fashion since Vauxhalls have not been sold in the US since perhaps…1961. And, this is a US-based site where few would be familiar with the intricacies of a modern-day Vauxhall.

That being said, if your engine is of the interference type, then, yes, a broken cam belt (we call it a timing belt) can result in damage to both valves and pistons. And, since these belts can snap with no warning when they get old, it is entirely possible that the belt was still intact when you parked the car and that it snapped when they attempted to start it. Really, there is no way of proving this however.

If the repair cost exceeds the value of the car, then it is time to move on and to be sure that you replace the cam belt on your next car according to the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule that should be sitting in the glove box.

I hope that this helps.


Hi and thank you sorry didnt realise this was US based engine is interference type …so if what you said it right then the damage to my pistons and valves could only occur if the cam belt actually snapped and not if it was just worn.thanks again …Paula


Generally speaking, a cam belt/timing belt is either okay or it is not. As someone else on this board has frequently stated, your engine would probably be working properly up until the nanosecond after the belt snapped.

However, I guess that in some rare situations, it might be possible for a timing belt to be loose enough as a result of wear on the tensioner for it to jump a few notches on the pulley, thus causing damage. But, whether this resulted from excessive wear (unlikely) or from a broken belt, the outcome is the same–namely extreme internal damage to the engine.

And, that is really a bummer when the cost or repairs exceeds the value of the vehicle!


Once again many thanks…I just wanted to be able to go to the garage and at least sound as if I knew what I was talking about…but from what you have said its not going to be easy to prove the garage have caused the damage to my car.Paula


It seems that a lot of car engines have safely exceeded 160,000 km (some don’t) on a timing belt. So, did your late Tigra a have at least that many? A timing belt doesn’t actually break (usually). It either jumps teeth, or teeth get stripped off. All the tooth stripping (or, jumping) wouldn’t necessarily happen at once.