Replacement of Timing Belt

89 Suzuki Sidekick 1.6L 8V 170,000 miles. Orig. owner. Runs great. Is my engine a zero tolerance engine? Took timing belt cover off and examined belt carefully. Looks like brand new-no rounded edges, no dry rot, no cracks, no oil residue-no dust. Has never been replaced. So I’m not replacing.

You can’t replace that soon enough. They’re fun vehicles and quite reliable if you maintain them.

“So I’m not replacing.”

If you are determined to not replace the timing belt, so be it, even if that is very bad judgment, IMHO.

The good news is that neither of the available engines for the '89 Sidekick are “interference” design engines. So, when that very aged belt snaps, no mechanical damage to the engine will result.

The bad news is that if the belt snaps while you are in the left lane of an expressway, in the midst of 18-wheelers, the life expectancy of both that little vehicle and its passengers is…not good.

Most people seem to envision mechanical breakdowns taking place in their own driveway, or some other convenient location, at a convenient time. In reality, the belt is just as likely to break while you are on the highway, in a bad part of town, or in the boondocks at night.

Wouldn’t it be better to be able to schedule the belt replacement at your convenience, rather than be subjected to unscheduled, inconvenient, and potentially dangerous breakdown scenarios?

You should be playing Lotto because up to this point you seem to have all of the luck in the world on your side.

You cannot determine the condition of a timing belt by a visual examination in all cases.

As VDCdriver mentions, what happens if that belt pops in the middle of a traffic maneuver; say while trying to beat a 200 car freight train through the crossing.

My Volvo MUST have its timing belt replaced every 80,000 km. I do just that and have had no problems in that regard.

Timing belts usually look brand new right up until they break. You can’t judge the belt’s condition visually.

You’re already riding on borrowed time. Replace the belt now, at a time and place convenient to you, or replace it when it breaks, wherever or whenever that might be. And the belt WILL break. It’s just a matter of when.

Replacing that way-overdue timing belt now, will allow you to come up way ahead of the game. Wait until it snaps, and you’ll be out an additional fee for the tow truck. There are absolutely no logical reasons to wait any longer on that belt.


Since it’s non-interference you should conduct an experiment for us and keep driving it until it breaks. Then report back here how many miles you get. Except for being broken, it will probably look like brand new.

Agree; I once brought a car back from the East and drove it West across the country. I thoroughly inspected all underhood items, and no belt seemed to need replacing. This was a Pontiac rear drive V8.

I dropped in at my brother’s place halfway on the trip and stayed overnight. The next morning while starting the car, the fanbelt just snapped!!

This was the only time I successfully used pantyhose as an emergency fix to drive to the nearest shop. I works, but use only the legs; the rest is too buky!

Moral of the story; rubber has a definite “shelf life” and timely replacement is a must for reliable performance.

Good comments. I expected nothing less than a severe tongue lashing! However, I still like the old saying: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. 21 years with NO work done to this car. I change the oil once a year whether it needs it or not! Just look at all the money I’ve saved. That preventative maintenance junk is for people with money. Probably why I have 3 ex-wives!

Geez! I think having 3 ex-wives is for people with money!

Wives need considerable “maintenance”, your “don’t need no steenking maintenance” approach may indeed have something to do with your current status.

I always let old sayings govern the way I live my life, rather than logic and reason.


Well, since it’s not an interference engine you can go ahead and drive it until the timing belt breaks.

Please tell us the date, time, and mileage when the belt finally lets go.

Just for fun.

I had to laugh, “zero tolerence engine” That would make that engine tighter than you appear to be.