Honda timing belt

I have a 2002 (7th gen.) Civic with - believe it or not - only a little more than 12k miles. Mine since new. The manual says to change the timing belt at 7 years , regardless of mileage, but I am in doubt if I must do so with such an unused car. What do you say ? Thanks.

I say change it. Since you use the car so little, perhaps you won’t miss it that much when the belt breaks. It’s your car, your money, your call.

Keep in mind the Civic is an interference motor. Which means if the belt breaks, pistons collide with valves and the repair is pretty much a new, used, or rebuilt motor for about $3,000.

The manual says it. Do it. This is an interference engine, meaning a broken timing belt will trash the engine.

Spend a few hundred now, or waste thousands if the belt snaps.

Feeling lucky?

You don’t have to replace the belt, but it’ll be a shame to destroy such a low mileage engine.

Your kind of driving, or more accurately, the lack thereof, is very hard on some components on your car, including belts and hoses. You really should change the timing belt on your car, unless you are willing to bet on the distant possibility that your belt will not fail for the life of the vehicle. Occasionally, someone will win at this game, but I would not risk it with an interference engine like the one in your Civic. If (when) the timing belt fails, it will take out the intake valves and possibly the pistons with it. This is extremely expensive to repair and will have you wishing you had not been so frugal about necessary maintenance on your car.

By the way, despite the ultra low mileage, all of your car’s vital fluids should be changed as well if you have been lax on that, especially coolant and transmission fluid, if automatic. Engine oil and filter should be changed at least annually.

Your NEXT Civic will have a chain, not a rubber belt…That’s the problem…Rubber parts degrade over time whether they are used or not…Automakers have gone back to steel chains that run in an oil bath…They last indefinitely…

Rubber degrades over time, especially if you’re in a hot climate. You’re already overdue by at least a year. If it breaks, you’ll be paying thousands for an engine repair or replacement. I’d change it.

Where do you live? What’s the weather like? How long do you plan to keep the car?

I wouldn’t be in a big rush to do it.

You understand the risks so its up to you. If I drove that little I would not do it right at 7 years either.

The car was likely built in 2001 and the belt some time before that. This means the belt is probably over 9 years old.

Extreme heat, cold, environmental conditions, any oil vapors from weeping seals, etc. also play part in the time factor so 6 years is about the limit on that. When it comes to an interference fit engine even 6 years is a gamble and belts have been known to snap at 3 or 4 years of age.

Change the belt. Why would you purchase something that cost somewhere around $15,000 and then every 7 years not be willing to spend $500 to keep it reliable? Change the belt. If you don’t you’ll be crying when your engine is destroyed.

I’d change it if it was mine.

I know this is a very different example, but on my in-law’s Civic, it had about 70k miles on it, and I asked if they’d changed the timing belt. They said no, and I strongly recommended they change it. They even had the appointment set up, and were at the dealer when the service manager told them it “didn’t sound like” it needed a new timing belt.

A week later, sa-nap.

$2,000 (this was some time ago).

You can invent your own moral to this story.

“the service manager told them it ‘didn’t sound like’ it needed a new timing belt.”

If that was indeed the service manager, I would avoid that dealership ever more.
More likely, it was a service writer, most of whom have very scant knowledge of anything automotive, other than frequently “upselling” service procedures to customers.

In this case, the service “person” was uncharacteristically reassuring, much to the detriment of the car owner.

While it is not possible to hold that charlatan responsible for the broken timing belt and the consequent engine damage, it would be really interesting if your SIL went back and asked, "Just for future reference, what does it sound like when an engine needs a timing belt replacement?"
I would love to hear the answer to that question.

Ever use a package of old rubber … bands. They break when stretched.

Your timing belt does the same thing. Elastomers age.

Have it changed. There a reason you should never use old rubber…

I apologize guys. It’s Friday evening and I simply could not resist. I sincerely hope nobody was offended.

Why should we be offended?
After all, you were referring only to rubber bands and timing belts.


Incidentally, I have observed the same problem with old rubber…gloves.

There is life left in your timing belt but lacking test data, nobody knows so the safe answer or safe guess, I might say, is change it. Contrary to what was said, elastomers age very little when kept at room temperature. I can say this as I have a belt driven grinder that I bought in the 1970s that has the original belt. Our last furnace had a belt driven blower with a belt at least 20 years old. My table saw has a belt that might be 30 years old. I have run tires to 12 years of age on more than one vehicle with no problem. I will admit to failures with 5 year old tires having rayon fabric but rayon is no longer used.

It would seem possible for a car mfr to make a fanbelt with a material that ages and degrades faster than the cam timing belt to use as an indicator but that was not done. An elastomer typically degrades due to time at a high temperature. Flexing of the belt is also a factor determining the belt’s lifespan and yours has flexed less due to low mileage.

I’d say don’t panic but get the timing belt changed eventually.

They last indefinitely…

I guess when you only keep a car 150k miles…then yes that’s true…

But every car I’ve owned with a chain…after 250k miles that chain needed replacing…at a cost of 3-5 times what a belt costs.

I don’t mean this in a combative way at all, but is there really that much need for a car that only sees a shade over a 1000 miles a year?
That type of driving can be pretty rough on a car anyway depending on how the mileage is put on there. (1 mile trips or a highway run once a month, etc.)

The type of driving and the oil change interval is something I’m very curious about.
Every 3k miles or 3 years, whichever comes first? :slight_smile:

Koff koff.

Mike, You’re Missing One-Hundred Thousands Miles. There’s Quite A Gap Between 150k & 250k !

“But every car I’ve owned with a chain…after 250k miles that chain needed replacing …at a cost of 3-5 times what a belt costs.”

[list]Consider that some “timing belt cars” have already had 2 or 3 belts replaced by 250k.[/list]

[list]Not even close, for me. Personal experience tells me that a timing chain replacement costs less than 50% more than a timing belt replacement (on my vehicles). On one vehicle it was basically only a parts price difference and in both cases it was labor that was the bulk of the cost.[/list]

[list]I have learned that one has to do his homework before selecting a vehicle to own. I suppose somebody, somewhere could find an example to support your statement. [/list]

[list] I no longer buy “timing belt cars” and don’t buy cars that have extraordinarily labor intensive chain replacements. Careful selection can save an owner hundreds of dollars in car maintenance.[/list]