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My car has a cough!

Hi! I have a 2007 Kia Rio LS.
I can’t get it to do this ALL time time, but when I accelerate hard (passing, getting off the line quickly) I hear a metallic sort of coughing sound from my car. It seems to happen around 30-40 MPH, but not the same speed each time. I think I may have heard that sound once while it was idling.

I have done all the scheduled maintenance (I’m behind a bit for the 70,000) that my mechanic has recommended, and I keep up OK with my oil changes. We’ve skipped doing the timing belt thing, because it’s a tear apart job- we’re going to wait until ‘other things’ need doing and get it all in one fell swoop. This is my road trip car, and Wednesday I’ll be going from central Texas to Northern Illinois, and driving back a week later. I’m worried my transmission is slipping, or my timing belt is prepping to do something horrible while I’m on the road. Probably in the middle of nowhere…

Timing belts don’t give any warning before they break, and if the belt breaks on this car the engine will suffer significant internal damage.

Check the owner’s manual for the recommended replacement interval. I think you may already be over on the mileage. This is not something you should gamble with.

mcparadise is correct. Only defer the timing belt if you’re prepared to buy a new engine if it breaks.

Have the timing checked. At this mileage it would not be unheard of.
A belt can stretch and - under stress - skip a tooth - and the engine will can still run fairly well.
Unfortunately if it skips another tooth the engine can be Ruined.

And Yes it will happen at the most unusual/inopportune time,
between OK city and Wentworth,KS?? Like grass and cows?

It’s a quick and cheap test.

Not to be a spoilsport but?

Godspeed, and Have a safe and wonderful trip.