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Oldest cambelt

Good day, all. I discovered this site googling ‘oldest cambelt’ and your 2011 thread came up. I have been pilloried on a UK site for my contention that a modern quality cambelt should last the life of the engine as long as something it drives doesn’t seize. I have practised what I preached; our 10yr old VW Passat 2.0GL belt was still going strong after 242,000m when sold, although I did have to replace a whining stiff tension pulley at around 130,000m before it seized and fried the belt. This was easy but replacing the belt was beyond my ability so I left well alone as it looked and felt OK. My 15yr old Audi A6 2.8 belt still looked good at 133,000m when I sold it. Our old Passat GL5 estate belt only got changed at 130,000ish because the water pump needed replacing and it would have been foolish not to, although it also looked fine. Our current runabout, a 2000 Ford Focus, has its original belt at 112,000m. Admittedly our UK climate is benign (I see this is a USA site) so our belts are not subjected to your frequent subzero to v hot stresses. I have no idea what effect this might have on the ‘bell curve’ of expected belt life.

I would have liked to have added this comment to your 2011 thread ‘Oldest timing belt’ but the ‘discussion is closed’. I wonder if this topic will produce any updates?

Huh? you “fried” the belt and then it looked OK and didn’t need replacement?

Are your distances in meters (m) or km or miles (mi) ? UK, “m” should be meters, but I’d guess you mean km?

I wonder if this topic will produce any updates?
Better put on your asbestos underpants… :wink:

Forget about ambient temps, it rarely gets to 195 degrees around here but that’s what my engine gets to when it’s fully warmed up. I assume you have similar thermostats in the UK?

What about ozone? Is that in the atmosphere there? Because it breaks down rubber compounds quite readily.

No doubt, there will be situations where the lifespan far exceeds the recommended interval. That recommended replacement interval has to fit the worst case scenario. But considering the ramifications if it fails in use, it is prudent to change it out proactively. In the least, you’ll be stranded. Worst case, you wreck the engine if it’s interference design or perhaps crash because you lose control with a dead engine on the expressway…

The OP is lucky. Nothing more, nothing ‘proven’. So what, maybe half the cars with timing belts could go to their graves without changing it, with no problem? OK, but the other half either stranded their owners (minimum) or destroyed their engines.

The UK uses miles for road distances.

rtm and follow recommended services.

The OP is also pushing his luck. So far, he’s been lucky. Damn lucky.
I hope he takes a more proactive approach to changing his fluids than he takes to changing his serp belt. :smile:

Years ago in this forum, in a discussion about timing belt life, someone who worked in a timing belt test facility posted a reply. He said he’s seen some belts go as far as 430,000 miles.

Some cars are harder on belts than others. For example, Hyundai 4-cyl is known for some belts not even making it to their 60K replacement schedule.

I agree the OP has been lucky. No one knows when his luck will suddenly run out.

I had a GM vehicle that the belt broke on at about 80,000 , if I remember correctly it was supposed to be changed at about 60,000 . No seized pulleys or other problems . I was lucky , belt broke while idling in my driveway & didn’t damage the engine .

Greetings to you there in the UK! Welcome to Car Talk. I assume you are in the UK anyway , is that so? I think most folks already understand that the best practice is to just follow what the owner’s manual says. I think some manufacturers agree w/you that their timing belt is good for the life of the car, and say so in the owner’s manual. But only if the car is driven in what they call maintenance type 1 mode, the kind of driving that is easy on the car. If in type 2 mode, there’s a miles and time limit.

Here’s my own t-belt experience. My old 1970’s VW Rabbit had one and I changed it religiously at what they said, 30 k miles I think was the spec, and each time it showed clear signs of wearing, appeared it needed a replacement. My 20+ year old Corolla is spec’d for t belt replacement at 60 k miles. I changed the original timing belt at 110 k miles, and upon visual inspection it still had a lot of life left in it. I expect it could have gone to 200 k miles, esp with the type of driving I do and in the mild climate we have here.

I rad a 92 Plymouth minivan with the 3.0 Mitsubishi engine. It went to the scrapyard at 170+ thousand and 14 tears old. 5 years before it was junked, the dealer offered me $200 in trade for it. At that point I knew I was not going to replace the belt and just see how long before it broke. I never found out, body rot became terminal at 14 years.

I know the recommendation was 60,000 miles but the job looked like a bear and when I asked my dealer how many belt failures they had seen on that engine, they said they had never seen one. They only cars they had replaced the belts on were because of failure were because of water pump failure.

On the other hand I had a 2.2 Plymouth Horizon that broke the belt at 43000, Warranty was only 36000. That was a non interference engine and I rode the bus home for tools and to the parts store and fixed it right where it broke.

I once saw a woman in a supermarket drop a glass jar of pickles on the floor. The jar did not break but that doesn’t mean that glass pickle jars are indestructible. Same with pushing your luck with a timing belt.

Your post brought back memories . I grew up in hilly country & the roads were crooked . As a teenager I once was following a pickup truck that had a bunch of groceries in the bed . The tailgate was down . There was a big chocolate cake that kept bouncing closer & closer to the back end of the bed .
When it bounced out I was going to stop & get it . It never did bounce out but a bottle of pancake syrup rolled out & hit the pavement & rolled off the pavement till it hit the gravel berm . It didn’t break until it hit the gravel .

LOL, good analogy, missileman!

What did Forrest Gump say about stupid? I’m not calling anyone stupid here, but I would feel stupid (myself) if I went beyond the recommended and ruined my engine. Stupid is as stupid does. Rocketman

I think OP is just wondering what’s scientifically possible is all, not recommending car owners skip the suggested services. A person has the right to push the limits for scientific purposes, right? As long is it is their own car engine they are risking.

BTW OP, do you read that UK-published magazine “Practical Classics”? I read every issue, even though most of the cars they talk about I’ve never seen before. Sam Glover’s articles make me laugh and laugh … lol …

The OP stated clearly that he runs his belts until they pop, and contending that owners should be able to run theirs until they pop, that they should last the life of the car. That’s beyond just a hypothetical enquiry.

I support his right to do so, but have to point out the folly of it.

LOL… Dont get me started on this… It wont be pretty


if the owners run their timing belt until it snaps, the life of the car might not be very long :fearful:

Maybe the OP has only had non-interference engines.