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Timing belt longevity and transmission question

I have a 95 corolla. Changed the timing belt in 2005 w/ 155K miles on it. Changed the water pump and the tensioners etc.

Now it has 245K miles on it. Thinking about having a belt changed. But I don’t want to throw good money after bad in an old car (although it hasn’t had much maintenance costs yet).

I’ve heard that Toyota corollas are “easy on the timing belt”, not sure if that’s true. That would indicate I should wait.

Also the transmission has had two flushes at about 70K and 120K and then the 3rd time they I think the independent shop (first two times was the dealer) just changed the fluid, without dropping the pan. Not sure if the dealer will “drop the pan” if I ask them to, or if it will be prohibitively expensive vs just changing the fluid. The fluid looks new, it’s transparent and doesnt’ smell burned.

The transmission hesitates a little at a stop sign, for exmple, after you’ve coasted for a while and then give it some gas. Takes about a half of a second to find the right gear. Not sure if that’s ominous or not.

So do you think I should change the timing belt right away? Wait b/c the transmission may be going out? Wait because Toyotas can run forever on one timing belt? The book says change the timing belt at 60K under Severe, however, I don’t drive it severe at all.

Any thoughts?

I would change the belt between 60,000 and 70,000 miles. The belt is made of RUBBER, and age alone will deteriorate it. Maximum age is 6-7 years. Changing a timing belt on a car is a MAINTENANCE expense, and even a new Lexus will need a belt change after 70,000 miles or 7 years.

With respect to your transmission you should drop the pan ancd change fluid and filter. That should cost about $125 at an independent (not a chain) transmission shop. The dealer would charge a little more. Flushing cause more problems than it cures, but makes a lot of money for the dealer. With flushing the dealer does not drop the pan or clean or replace the filter. It puts a lot of crud inside the transmission where it should not be. If you tell this to dealer they will swear that the flushing gets all the dirt out; it no way does.

A Toyota transmission is good for about 300,000 miles with the proper maintenance, which includes dropping the pan and changing fluid and filter every 30,000 miles.

@kenberthiaume FWIW you DO NOT have an interference engine. So if the timing belt breaks, you wont’ damage any valves.

And you’re correct about the Corollas being "easy on the timing belt"
I used to have a 1995 Corolla 1.8. I changed the timing belt a few times, at the specified 60K intervals. Every time, the old belt still looked pretty good.

Thanks for advice. I’m going to have the coolant and transmission fluid changed. Hopefully they will have heard of “dropping the pan” etc. The corolla has a filter so it wouldu be good to be changed.

Depending on how the transmission looks, I’ll possibly get a new timing belt at a later date. The first one lasted 155K miles, so this one is just getting started, I figure.

I do realize it’s not an interference engine. I’m thankful for that. Hopefully I can get another 250K miles out of it. I may die before it does though.

"I'm going to have the coolant and transmission fluid changed. Hopefully they will have heard of "dropping the pan" etc."

Given that you have noticed a few peculiarities with the transmission shifting, it might be best to have the trans fluid change done by an independent transmission specialist. Before they start, ask them what they think about the symptoms you’ve noticed. They may perhaps want to test drive before they drop the pan. They may also be able to associate your symptoms with their observations of the transmission once they do have the pan removed. Note that you should use an independent shop, NOT chain transmission companies like AAMCO.

If you’re handy, you may be able to change the coolant yourself, otherwise take it to your regular shop. No need to take a vehicle of this age to the dealer for routine work like this, save your money.

Hey Kenberthiaume,

If the dealer recommends changing the timing belt every 60k and if you’re at 245k and last changed the belt at 155k then you are nearly 90k+ on the same belt. The reason it is recommended is because in most current engines today the valves when they are at their max open position will travel farther down the cylinder than the max TDC position of the piston. In other words if your timing belt snaps while the engine is running the valves stop moving but the pistons dont and they will impact your valves…bad stuff follows including spending $1000+ on engine repairs. So is it worth taking the chance? I would hope not.

The transmission service does come in 2 stages like you had mentioned and yes the full service where they drop the pan and replace the filter is more costly but it is very much worth the extra $ again for the fact that compared to a full blown transmission rebuild or buying a new tranny the extra $ is cheaper in the long run. The full service does a better job of ridding your transmission of all the metal shavings and the new filter will do a better job of filtering all the contaminates. Draining the fluid only partialy removes the contaminates.

Hope that helps.

It’s already been established that this is NOT an interference engine. See post above by db4690.

Hey all,

So I guess I need to read updated posts before i reply next time >.>.

Anyway if your sure it is not an interference engine then I will leave it up to your call on the longevity of the current belt. Another good point that Westernroadtripper brought up is taking it to a specialty shop that can inspect the transmission with the pan off and see if it might be something the tranny flush and new filter can cure.

Take care again,

Just keep in mind if the timing belt does break you’ll be stranded with immediate loss of power.
With a drive/serpentine belt at least you can pull to a safe area.

Also, the car has a double overhead cam: one for the intake valves and one for the exhaust valves. When you lose the timing belt, the valves will not move at the correct time anymore. Wile you won’t destroy your engine completely, you might damage valves if the intake and exhaust valves collide. That will mean a top end job, which will likely cost more than the timing belt. But you may want to take your chances since the car is almost 20 years old.

It would not be unheard of for this car to see another 100k miles. It is a non interference engine so the valves will not hit the pistons or each other should the belt break. But I would recommend that you get the transmission serviced first. Make sure whoever services it uses Toyota ATF and not universal ATF with some additives.

Have then drop the pan and clean it out and clean or replace the filter. In your car, the filter is a stainless steel screen so it can be cleaned. There should be a drain plug on the pan, but the pan will get full of gunk from the wearing parts of the transmission so it should be dropped and cleaned.

If you are satisfied with the transmission after service, then consider the belt and the front crankshaft seal. It is easy to replace once the timing belt is off and they are prone to leaking on this engine, especially as they get older. If the water pump is driven by the timing belt, then it should be changed as well, but I’m not sure if it is driven by the timing belt in this engine. Or you can wait until the belt breaks, just hope it doesn’t happen at an inopportune time.

@jtsanders it has been WELL established that this is NOT an interference engine.

While the term “interference engine” primarily refers to the reach of an open valve being able to hit a piston, the comment by @jtsanders refers to valves that can hit each other when they are both incorrectly opened at the same time.

I’m not familiar with his “valve collision” comment falling into the definition of “interference engine”.
I suspect others will weigh in.

Did u check trans fluid level? Dropping pan and doing a filter/fluid change sounds good. May help downshifting issue.