Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

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

Note that not every car has a timing belt. I had a guy ask me when the timing belt on his OHV Taurus would need to be replaced.

I’m sure he voted too.

I just did the timing belt + water pump on my 94 ford probe. Its never been replaced and its still in great condition (the water pump went bad so I replaced the timing belt also). It has 17 years on it and about 120k miles.

We have a winner! On this morning’s show, Pam called in about her 1988 Volvo with 242,000 miles on it. The original timing belt just broke.

Age = 23 years, +/-
Miles = 242,000

Of course it’s worth the repairs! It’s a Honda! Remember, they run trouble-free forever and never need any major work. If they ever do need major work, the owner will develop amnesia about the entire episode after the work is done and the bill paid so they can continue to say that this car is the best car they have ever owned.

1 Like

I am getting my chain replaced today. 184,000 miles.

Good for you. But I don’t know what that has to do with an 8 year old discussion about timing belts.

Makes sense! I had a 1984 Chevy Caprice small block and at around 170,000 miles the chain started to get noisy.

Replaced it with double sprocket metal one as the OEM one was a single sprocket plastic one. Cost about $200. The car was given to my son in college and he drove it till it was 20 years old and then sold it for $700. It might still be running today.

Since we’ve revived an old discussion . . .

And since I wasn’t part of this forum in 2011, when the discussion started . . .

One of the trucks in our fleet is a 1996 model year, and the timing belt has never been changed

I believe it has pretty low mileage . . . perhaps 60K

But this truck does a LOT of very short trip, stop and go driving.

And it’s a daily driver, used at least 5 days a week, since new

Weird that this thread gets revitalized this week. On this week’s CarTalk podcast, one of the calls was about a car (can’t remember the make/model) was purchased by the caller who said the previous owner had never changed it and it was at, I think, 160K miles. The engine was a non-interference engine so it could leave you stranded but not destroy the engine.

Oh come on. Everyone knows that timing belts last practically forever if you have a non-interference engine. Of course, if you have an interference engine, then the belt will fail as soon as you cross the recommended time or mileage threshold, and sometimes they don’t even last that long! This is by design, a form of “planned obsolescence”.

1 Like

And I thought I was cynical!


My neighbor had a VW Passat which broke its timing belt just before the factory specified interval, causing $3000 worth of damage. The arrogant dealer tried to blame it on her driving style!!! Luckily the car was still under warranty, but after trading the car she never even looked at another VW again, and is now driving Hondas while badmouthing VWs any chance she gets.

This was not “planned obsolescence” but poor quality control in the manufacture of the tensioners, which VW would never admit to… The belts were made by Continental, a reputable German rubber company.

1 Like

This is a little besides the point, I suppose . . .

I’m not a fan of Continental belts.

I happen to think . . . based on my professional experience . . . that Gates makes better belts than Continental


I’ve never been a fan of Continental tires, going back to the late 60s and early 70s when they came on some of the new Volkswagen vehicles sold at a dealership where I worked.

Friend bought a Mitsu Outlander from Auction with 80K miles; just drove it around and would have a Jiffy lube people change the oil at random intervals. Sometimes 5K miles, sometimes 10K.
At 180K miles the belt broke and as lucky as he was, there was no engine damage, so he is back on the road.
Some people are lucky.

Yeah you got me again with a 2011 discussion. I think anything older than a couple years should come up in bold or red or something.

I’ve never had a car with a belt that I kept long enough to change the belt. Timing chains usually would go about 250,000 but not always.

I’m not sure how Gates tests their timing belts, but Honda and others reportedly test them to 200% of the mileage specified for changeout. That’s quite typical of Japanese companies.

Many manufacturers test stuff so that it will not fail during the warranty period, but cars and other mechanical items live many times that interval.

Several of my friends have owned Italian cars and by today’s standards they were very fragile with many items failing before 50,000 miles. If only Fiat tested and applied quality control like Toyota and Honda it would make their cars more attractive for long term ownership/

1 Like

shouldn’t we also give credit to bearings in pulleys, tensioners, and water pumps that last as long as those ‘record belts’?

The reason I never changed the belt in the 92 Voyager I referenced 8 years ago.
1: It was a 3.0 Mitsubishi V6 and the job looked like a pain.

2: I talked to the Chrysler dealers service dept and asked how many of these they had towed in with a broken belt. They said we have never towed in a car with that engine with a broken belt. We usually get to change them when the water pump goes. So I decided to change it when the water pump went.

3: 5 years before it went to the junkyard because of rust, the dealer offered me $200 for a trade in on a $10,000 newer van. I did not trade it in but decided to keep it because at $200 it was the biggest bargain I had ever seen. When it did get junked, you could not jack it up from the side because the pinch welds had rusted away and the engine was leaking oil both front and rear and onto the timing belt for years but the belt and water pump were still going strong.

Of course, all these components should be tested by the manufacturer for expected maximum life. It does not cost much more to make a component that lasts 200,000 les than one that lasts only 60,000 miles. Toyota and Honda seem to have mastered the art of making high quality components at competitive prices.

My wife has a Bose kitchen radio that is on nearly all the time, and is about 20 years old now. Previous ones, mostly Sony or other, lasted typically 2-3 years before we threw them away.