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Oldest or Highest Mileage Timing Belt: Who Holds the Record?

Questions about the proper replacement interval for timing belts seem to appear frequently on this forum. Owners who apparently haven’t read their owners manual are often admonished for not knowing that the manual recommends replacement at 105k miles or 105 months (or whatever).

In one answer to a recent question, andrew j mentioned that he knows of a '98 Forester with 60k on the clock and its original timing belt. Which got me to wondering, what’s the record for longest-lasting timing belt (in terms of either mileage or age).

So, wrack your brains and tell us of the longest-lasting timing belt you know of. There will be two winners: one for mileage, and one for age.

Let the games begin.

The highest mileage belt I can personally think of was on a VW Golf but I just flat don’t remember the exact mileage. My fuzzy memory seems to think it was in the 140k-150k miles range. That’s high and ludicrous to allow it to go that long but I’m sure there are many others out there that have gone much further.

The quickest I’ve ever seen one personally snap was about 20 and some odd thousand miles with a few others in the 40-50k miles range.

The manuals are not always correct as there are factors other than age and mileage involved.

My 1992 Plymouth Voyager went to the junkyard at 170000+ and 15 years old because of rust and oil leaks with its original timing belt. At 130000 it started leaking oil on the timing belt which it did for its last 3 years.

About seven years ago, I had a 1992 Chrysler LeBaron with the 3.0L Mitsubishi V6 that had the original timing belt on it. It had something like 190k mile on it when I got it. I never did bother to do much with that car, including replace the timing belt. I paid $300 for it, fixed the exhaust system and brakes, drove it a few months, and sold it for $175 to a fellow I know who was down on his luck and in need of a vehicle. That car disappeared from his driveway about three years ago. I’m not sure what became of it, but I’m pretty sure he never replaced that timing belt either. You definitely don’t want to try that with an interference engine.

I’ve had six cars with over 100,000 miles on them and never changed either a timing belt or timing chain. Until I started looking at this site I didn’t even know they existed.

Poodle Shooter, I Think You Represent A Typical Car Owner. I’d Bet More Than 50% Of All Car Owners Are Unaware And Half Of The Rest Don’t Really Grasp The Significance Of The T-Belt.

I wonder how many of your vehicles “blew-up” like a big dog on owner #2 ?

Oh, and thank you for helping keep Poodles & Noodles on the Roadkill Cafe dinner menu. Sometimes there’s just not enough roadkill.


Oldtimer 11, As I’m Sure You’re Aware, Many Cars With T-Belt Driven Water Pumps That Aren’t Replaced With The Belt, Develop Pump Leaks That Saturate The Belt With Coolant, Soften It, And . . . Zinnnng ! No Teeth !

That’s why the pump should be changed with the belt.


If you could plot the life of timing belts you would get some sort of bell shaped curve. A few early failures, eventually lots of failures, and finally a few that just last seemingly forever. A few belts lasting 300K miles wouldn’t surprise me. That fits within the statistical model I’d expect.

A lot depends on the service and ambient temperature. In the Pacific NW, mild winters and cool summers make for long belt life, as does steady highway driving. The longest I remember was a Honda Civic owner who was written up in a Honda magazine; he still had the same belt at 180,000 miles! However, this was hardly a smart decision.

Belts often fail BEFORE their time. My neighbor’s Passat belt went a 59,000 miles (required change out was 60,000 miles) and caused $3000 worth of engine damage.

CSA, not every engine with a timing belt is an interference engine. I would imagine whoever wins this contest had a car with a timing belt and a non-interference engine.

Results so far:

Shortest T-belt life = 20+k miles (ok4450)
Longest T-belt life = 190+k miles…wow! (mark9207)

Several years ago, in the retirement park in McAllen where I count minutes and seconds until I return to Mexico when I need to visit the US, I had an older neighbor. (Older at my age means anyone who is one or more days older than I am and still kicking, heh, heh.)

He had an old Toyota pickup. He said he was a mechanic all his life, and could tell by the sound when the timing belt was getting ready to do, so he let them go, usually around 160,000 miles when they got noisy.

I found that strange, compared to what our experts tell us, but certainly wasn’t going to argue with him. I change mine on schedule, though.

I had a 1987 Honda Prelude with over 435,000 miles on it that I let go back in 2003. Gave it to Junk For Jesus. Never had a single problem with the car. I know I changed the timing belt once… but not sure what the odometer was when I did it… I think it was around the 230K mark. ?? I got the paperwork to prove it though…

When this topic was last discussed, one contributor said he used to work at a company that manufactured and tested timing belts. As others mentioned, he noted the bell curve failure pattern, and stated that many belts go well beyond 400,000 miles.

'98 forester 60k, kinda of low milage for that year. my '05 impreza have 82k. maintenance service is replace at 105k?

Whitey, I Know That. We Used To Run Dodge Aires Cars (Had 3 Of Them). They Were Fantastic Cars And Had T-Belt 2.2L 4s And I’d Run Them Until The Belt Snapped.

I only ever had one do that. I could actually be a contender in this contest because we got over 200,000 miles out of these cars, but I don’t remember the specifics (we’re talking 82, 86, 88 models), so I will take myself out of the running.

I think as the race for MPGs has heated up there are far more cars that run timing belts that are Interference Engines, as manufacturers try and wring out every bit of HP and MPG from small displacement powerplants.

You remided me of when I replaced that Aires timing belt in the driveway. It was pretty easy. Since I didn’t have a proper belt tensioning tool, I notched a wooden stick of wood and hooked a fish scale to the end. On a running Aires, I removed the plastic belt gaurd and using the jury rigged “tensioning gauge,” I noted how much pull it took on the fish scale to twist the belt 90 degrees between the two most distant pulleys, I believe it was 8 pounds. Then I set the new belt on the other Aries to 8 pounds. It ran forever.

We’re talking the 80s, timing belts were fairly new on cars and we live in the sticks in the middle of nowhere. A man’s got to do what a man’s got to do.

Damn, those were great little cars, comfortable, reliable, durable, easy to drive, roomy, decent trunk, ugly, and great MPG (30ish).


“maintenance service is replace at 105k?”

Only if you want to prevent your engine from self-destructing!

The interval listed in your Owner’s Manual is 105k miles or 105 months, whichever comes first.
The 105 months translates to 8 years & 9 months, but you can probably safely round that number up to 9 years in total.

Since you seem to be unaware of this, may I respectfully suggest that you read the booklet entitled Subaru Maintenance and Warranty? It should be sitting in your glove compartment.

Since you were not aware of the schedule for timing belt replacement, it is very possible that you have skipped some vital maintenance procedures over the past 5 years or so. Take a look at this booklet, and verify if you are on schedule with all of your car maintenance.

That’s what I figured. There’s never been an owner after me. Abandoned, stolen, totalled in an accident, pushed into a gulch under an overpass. That about covers it. Thanks.

Oh, and I would never shoot a poodle. That’s what we used to call the M-16 when I was serving my country.

today we took in a 93 accord with 217,000 miles on it. owner states never had a timing belt replaced. it is leaking oil so bad that the drive belts are saturated with oil. transmission slips, cv axle bad engine mounts bad and they want it fixed. the car is not worth the repair.

That, and in MANY cases the water pump has to be removed to get to the belt. Therefor the labor of belt replacement already includes the labor for water pump replacement. You’re already in the neighborhood, why not visit the water pump?