Rubber Band Timing Belt Car or a tough truck

My new girlfriend bought a 2001 honda civic about a year ago and it has 140k miles when she bought it, the car dealer that sold it to her said everything had been done to it and it was good for another 140k miles. Well she drives 60 miles one way for work and now it has 184k miles on it and the weak junk rubber band timing belt broke and now the engine is junk. The mechanic said that the belt was original but the seller said it was ok, i don’t know who to believe. I am worried if we fix it the weak fwd transmission will be next.

I drive a 2000 silverado and it has 200k miles on it and never had a problem with its chain, and it probably will go another 200k miles. She had been driving my truck to work but it gets 17mpg on highway and last month it cost her over 500 in gas, she says she can get a new car for that money, but as I told her it will be another junk rubber band timing belt car.

So I bought her a 2003 trailblazer because we need 4 wheel drive here in indiana because it snows, and it gets 20mpg. Well as one could expect it has 130k on it and the transmission broke and it will be 2000 to rebuild it. She wants to fix her civic because it will only be 1800 to fix it.

To me saving getting 18mpg better in the civic isnt worth it when it has a junk rubber belt and it doesnt have 4wd. She says it will still cost 400 in gas to drive the trailblazer, well you get what you pay for… SHould I fix the rubber band car or the truck


@WheresRick A well cared for Honda with a timing belt will likely outlast your truck! However, you do not EVER believe anyone about a timing belt having been changed unless you have a written invoice in your hand. If the mechanic said the belt was the original, it should have been changed IMMEDIATELY, since Honda says 7 years or 105,000 miles or so. The belt was 5 years and 35,000 miles overdue.

I’m completely mystified why your girlfriend believed the seller (who normally lies) and not the mechanic. I’ll put that in the wishful thinking category.

This post has nothing to do with how good your truck is and everything about buying a used car. I have advised a number of friends who bought used cars with timing belts with over 100,000 miles on them, to change it right away unless a written record said other wise. A friend of my wife bought a Honda minivan from a police sargeant. He said the belt had been changed, but did not have the bill. She spent $650 to have it changed anyway, since is was past due.

Also, if the transmission fluid in the Honda has not been changed at least twice (as per the owner’s manual), it is a likely candiate for early failure as well.

Live and learn.

Well the mechanic said the belt was original when he opened it up and the car had 180k when it broke, my point is 650 dollars will buy alot of gas so why bother with rubber band cars.

Over 300,000 miles, the conservative life expectancy of a Honda, it will consume 10,000 gallons of regular gas, while a V8 truck will consume 20,000 gallons. So 10,000 gallons @$4 is $40,000. That’s 61.5 timimg belts. But over 300,000 miles the Civic only needs 4 or 5 timimg belts for $3250.

My wife has a 2liter Mazda 3, and each time I tank up her car the previous guy driving a truck has about $75 showing on the pump before it is reset. Her car seldom needs more than $45 to fill it. Tank sizes normally are sized for the same distance of driving.

My truck get 17mpg highway so thats only 17647 gallons of gas for 300k miles. Plus gas wasn’t 4 dollars a gallon back in 2003 when I got my truck. Plus we get snow here and need 4wd.

Thats like buying a prius to get 40mpg but then the battery needs replaced at 80k miles and it cost 8 grand to do it. Thats if it don’t catch fire first.

Your truck et 17 mpg highway and probaly 13 city. And you drive a mix of city and highway like most people do.

I had a V8 Chevy Caprice with the same engine as in the pickup truck at that time. Now I have a Corolla with auto and the 1.8 liter engine and my fuel consumption is exactly HALF of the Chevy. So, the Civic got 34 mpg and your truck 17 lets assume. The Civic then uses 17647/2=8823.5 gallons LESS over that period. Before your truck is worn out gas will probably nudge 5-6 dollars a gallon again.

The 8823.5 gallons the Civic saves @ $3 a gallon still amounts to $26,470.5 or 40.7 timimg belts.

I’m not disputing your choice of truck when you bought it. If you do off road work or plow parking lots and driveways, a truck like yours is very suitable.

Your girlfriend is wise not to want a heavy 4WD vehicle for commuting in INDIANA. Many posters here live in very snowy areas of the USA (upstate New York, New England) and do fine with good winter tires. I live in the foothills of the Rockies far North of Indiana, and cope with snow and -40 temperatures. Both our cars are two wheel drive have Michelin X-ICE winter tires and we have to be stuck yet.

I was raised on a farm and like trucks for what they can do off road and carrying heavy loads. Commuting in Indiana does not fall into that category.

The year-to-date fuel cost for our 2 cars so far this years has been $609. Both cars have timing chains.

I agree with you that a Prius only makes sense if you drive a great deal, preferably city and preferably in a mild climate. Taxi service in Seattle or San Francisco is ideal for a Prius. Commuting to work in Indiana is not a good application.

However, I won’t get into your domestic dispute.

@WheresRick, Lets say another small car gets 34 MPG. At $3.75 per gallon of gas, it will save more than $1100 every 10,000 miles. I paid $800 last September to replace the timing belt, water pump, coolant, and serpentine belt on my Accord. Yes, it cost money to pay for the belt, but not nearly as much as it costs to gas up the Silverado.

BTW, Honda and many others stopped using timing belts on their 4-cyl engines long ago. We have 2 Cobalts and are very happy with them. They were produced between 2005 and 2010 and never used a timing belt. They are reliable, but don’t have the reputation that a Civic or Corolla does. This means you save money when you buy it used. You could buy a 2005 Cobalt LS with auto transmission and 100,000 miles for $4000 from a private seller. The equivalent Civic would set you back $6400 from a private party.

Well now settle down doc, its not a domestic dispute, i just want to know should i fix the trailblazer which gets 20 mpg or the civic which has a unreliable timing belt and gets 37mpg.

I live in a cheap little house so I can afford the gas in my truck that aint the issue. I dont use it for plowing, in fact it never goes offroad, I drive a truck because its far more reliable than a little car. I commute with it as well. I spend 450 a month in my gas myself and its well worth it.

Shes the one whos crying the blues about the gas bill, im just trying to show her you spend the money in gas and get a reliable truck such as the trail blazer or you save a bit and depend on a flimsy belt.

With all due respect, I think you’re the one who ought to settle down Rick.

She’s the one who’s going to be doing the driving, and I think you might want to respect her opinion.

Again, with all due respect, I’m an industrial mechanical designer. We use rubber timing type belts all the time for power transmission for converyors and such. They work under pretty gnarly conditions, and last just jine. They make 'em pretty tough these days.


Timing belts are supposed to be replaced at a certain time/mileage

It clearly states that in the maintenance schedule that every car comes with

Labeling timing belts as unreliable is unfair and inaccurate

By the way, I don’t believe timing belts are all that “flimsy”

In “the old days” they got replaced every 60K

Nowadays, it’s more like 90K or even 100K

@WheresRick–I’ve learned from experience to let your significant other choose the vehicle she likes to drive, no matter what the reason. My wife wanted a Toyota 4Runner–nothing else would do. At the time we made the purchase, her parents were in an assisted care facility 50 miles away. We had a terrible time getting there once in our 1993 Oldsmobile 88 (front wheel drive) and she didn’t want to go through that experience again. Also, even though we live about two and a half miles from work, her position demanded that she be on campus. We live in Indiana and often secondary roads don’t get plowed immediately. Mrs. Triedaq is very happy with the 4Runner, so it was a good purchase.
For myself, I would really like to have a Mazda Miata. However, you can’t squeeze six musicians and their instruments in Miata. Therefore, I have a Toyota Sienna minivan. One time I had two cellos, 1 violin, 1 trumpet, 1 French horn and 1 flute along with the six of us in the Sienna for a 120 mile round trip for a performance. Now I thought that the ideal vehicle situation for us would be to have a minivan and a Miata. Mrs. Triedaq could drive the minivan and I would drive the Miata unless I was on my way to a musical event. My wife wanted nothing to do with this plan.
Now it doesn’t seem to me that the Trailblazer is all that trouble free if its transmission decided to hand in its resignation at 130,000 miles. I rather think that had the Honda had proper maintenance in having the timing belt changed at the 60,000 or 5 year interval, it would still be on the road. I have a friend and colleague who has only owned Honda Civics with the exception of her first car, a Renault Le Car which she bought used and is the reason she drives Honda Civics; She puts about 200,000 miles on these Civics without problems, but she does have the maintenance including the timing belts done. I have another friend with a 2005 Toyota Prius which has at least 130,000 miles and no battery problems. The statement that the big battery only goes 80,000 miles doesn’t match with the experience of this friend and the others I know who drive a Prius.
Now I don’t really like the idea of a rubber timing belt. However, if the belt is changed at the required interval, the Honda Civic is a very reliable car. If your girl friend likes the mileage of the Honda Civic and thinks that is the car she should drive, that should be the over-riding factor. My wife worries about getting out if we have a winter storm with lots of snow. For her peace of mind, the 4Runner makes sense.

  1. By your own admission, she got 48k miles of use out of the Honda. Likely saving 10c/ mi over your gas guzzler, that’s $4,800 saved.

  2. She has $1,800 in damage frim a failed timing belt, putting her “money ahead” by $3,000–despite the fact that this could have been dealt with much more cheaply by not neglecting maintenance in the first place.

  3. Your “tin tranny” truck has had more expensive failures in the sample period than her “rubber band” Civic.

  4. You live in INDIANA, where it is FLAT. A FWD car (in the hands of a competent driver) is perfectly adequate for snow until it is so deep that there is insufficient clearance under the body.

  5. Perhaps the reason your GF is unswayed by your “must have 4wd for snow” argument is that she’s a better winter driver than you?

  6. And as far as expensive breakdowns go, perhaps you should ditch that “tin tranny” auto and get a stick shift? (Assuming you know to work one, that is…)

IN SUMMARY: Driving a pickup onroad, with no need for hauling on a regular basis, is economically absurd. That’s coming from a half-ton truck owner (used as a work truck). If you want to needessly blow through $1000s each year on a “lifestyle” vehicle, that’s your choice, but I can certainly see why your GF is hesitant to toss that much money away in an effort to be a poseur trucker…

Hang on. I don’t mean to pile on here, but the Civic goes almost twice the service life of the timing belt before it fails and the problem is with the car and not the neglected maintenance???

The gasoline issue is not the cost but how much you use. I could afford to leave every light in my house on 24/7 if I wanted to but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. Wasteful is wasteful whether you can afford it or not.

I fix cars for a living, this is just my personal observation without any hard data: The Civic will be a far more reliable and economical car to own and operate than the Trailblazer will ever be.

You kinda killed this argument by admitting the civic, “rubber band”, timing belt made it 184,000 miles. That’s incredible!

Just embrace it and buy it some snow tires.

Besides, all those rubber band civics are made just next door in Ohio.

The problem IMO was listening to the car salesman. The Honda Civic (I have an '03) calls for a new timing belt every so often. Mine is every 105K miles or 8 years whichever comes first. I had my belt replaced at 100K miles.

When the salesman said the car was good for another 140K miles he misspoke at best, and lied at worst. Even if the car had a new timing belt as it sat on the lot, it wouldn’t go 140K more miles without being due for a replacement.

It is very likely this civic had the original belt. This is an interference engine so $1800 isn’t a bad price to either repair or replace the motor. If you put a used motor in the car, make sure it has a new timing belt. The question about how long the auto transmission will last is valid. Honda auto transmissions can fail. They need regular fluid changes with Honda brand auto trans fluid.

That’s why I bought my Civic with a manual trans and at 140K I’m very happy with it and I get 40 mpg driving on freeways. So, I’d repair the Civic and pay attention to the maintenance of the auto transmission. The cost of fueling the dependable american trucks the OP prefers is just too high for the kind of usage the girl friend has for a car.

Silverados are reliable if they are properly maintained,thats basically all we use at work(our mileage isnt quite as good as yours) we have had to replace engines in these things as well, let the lady drive what she wants-most all modern vehicles are reliable if proparly maintained,Personally after my wife made me a Honda convert,I really dont want anything else-I like boring,bland .reliable can usually fix em myself too-Kevin

You can’t really fault a timing belt that went nearly twice the recommended replacement mileage. Would you blame your tires for blowing out if you drove over 100K miles on them? You also learned the hard way to never trust a used car salesman unless it’s someone you personally know. Any reasonably designed vehicle will be reliable if you keep up on the maintenance and don’t abuse it. The Civic will be far cheaper to run. I personally find most Hondas to be boring appliances, but they do have a proven reputation for reliability, and long-term I think the Civic would fare better than the Trailblazer.

In her situation I would fix the Civic first since she commutes, then use the money saved on gas to save up for a transmission for your other vehicle before the snow kicks in again.

Well when I bought my truck it had regular tires on it and I put 35s on it and had my buddy recalibrate the speedo and now I get better gas mileage went up. I had my buddy fill the tires with hydrogen and that takes alot of weight off of the tire. I used to get 15mpg highway but the 35’s, hydrogen, and the dual straightpipe exhaust brought my mileage up to 17

Your kidding right? besides being dangerous that hydrogen wont stay in there very long-methinks you are pulling legs-Kevin

Nitrogen, I meant nitrogen.