Timing Belt Nightmare

I have a 2008 Hyundai Elantra with ~133,000 miles and had my timing belt replaced in March as preventative maint. Three months later the belt shredded, killed my engine. The original mechanic had it towed back to their place and had my car for about 3 wks - they said it was a tensioner failure that caused it to wear against the cover and break allowing the timing belt to fly out in pieces. They claim there wasn’t much damage, replaced all intake valves (said 5of8 were bent) and said exhaust valves were fine, also said the head gasket looked good.
I’ve had my car back for a week now, put about 500 miles on it over the 4th wknd. Yesterday I heard a loud belt squeel first in the afternoon and again this morning; it’s been idling pretty rough, you can see the engine shake (and it didn’t before); when I get around 60 it seems to hesitate a little, like the timing is still off; there is now a constant clicking/ticking coming from the head gasket area; and a trickling water noise in front of the steering wheel.
I’m NOT confident about their ability to fix this and feel it will happen again, what can I do??

Either let them try to fix it again…OR pay to have another mechanic fix it. Then TRY to get the other mechanic to pay for it.

I would keep taking it back and make them make it right.

Timing belt kits usually come with a new tensioner. Did they replace the tensioner when they did the first timing belt job?

I’ve had similar issues when getting my clutch replaced, and I was able to resolve the problem by asking that a different more competent mechanic clean up the last mechanic’s mess. It helps if you’re a loyal customer who just wants them to make things right.

You might also inquire about the warranty that came with the job. If they stand by their work, and they value your business, they will be interested in making you happy.

Your “mechanic” should have stuck to Pizza delivery…Of course part of the blame goes back on Hyundai for using this outdated design in the first place…Blaming the mechanic is somewhat unfair but not completely unfair as he took your money to do a job he should have stepped back from…

I can see several areas here in which they may be at fault.
One problem could be if they did not replace the tensioners and water pump at the same time as the belt. It is strongly recommended that this be done as a kit, not as a belt only job.

Another iffy area could be how the cylinder head was repaired. At 133k miles the cylinder head should have gone to the auto machine shop for a complete valve job. If they simply stuck some new intake valves in it without consideration for anything else this could be very problematic.

Offhand, this points to the shop being negligent but that’s difficult to say without knowing the details.
If they skipped the tensioners and water pump originally, then they erred by doing so and any claim that the tensioners and water pump felt fine is not a valid one. There’s often no way of knowing so that’s why it’s recommended a safe rather than sorry repair be done.

I’m curious as to what the mechanic meant when he said that the head gasket looked good. Surely he didn’t reuse the old gasket. And if the mechanic was not familiar with the tensioner on that engine he may have failed to properly set the pre-load before releasing the tensioner spring. I would advise you to get a shop with extensive Hyundai experience to look into the entire situation, @Staplets.

Of course part of the blame goes back on Hyundai for using this outdated design in the first place…

What is the outdated design called? Just using rubber timing belt vs. chains?
What is the proper modern design called?

I contend that “timing belts” should have never been installed in any engine. There are millions upon millions of timing chain engines that still run today and are decades older than timing belt engines that fell by the wayside. You could make tires out of wood and they would indeed work until they suddenly failed…just like timing belts. That in itself does not make it a good idea.

I contend this is a non-issue because there are also millions upon millions of timing belt vehicles that are quite old, and these cars, unlike timing chain vehicles, will never get a chance to experience water pump failure. My timing belt jobs have cost me approximately $0.003719 per mile to date. By the time I dump my car at 300,000 miles, the cost of timing belt jobs will be less than $1,500 over the course of 15-20 years, or $0.005/mile. It seems to me someone’s making a mountain out of a mole hill. The issue here is incompetent work, not the design of the engine.

There are millions upon millions of timing chain engines that still run today and are decades older than timing belt engines that fell by the wayside.

Decades??? How many vehicles do you know that are decades old?? Really??

I agree a timing chain is a better choice IF it’s a NON-INTERFERENCE engine…OR on a vehicle that doesn’t get a lot of miles over the years. But if you’re like me that averages 30-40 k miles per year and the vehicle is an interference engine…then keeping that timing chain vehicle for DECADES…you’ll be paying THOUSANDS more dollars replacing that stretched timing chain then you will all those timing belts.

I think you mechanic needs to read a book on how to install a timing belt. Clearly he is not following the instructions for setting the tensioner because this is twice now that it has become a problem. I doubt the tensioner failed in the first place. I suspect that he is not tightening down the bolt that holds the tensioner in position after letting the spring set the tension. He may think that the spring is supposed to hold the tension constant like it does on a serpentine belt and that is not how it works.

Even the statement about the exhaust valves looking fine comes across as very hokey.

They claim there wasn't much damage, replaced all intake valves (said 5of8 were bent)

If 5 of 8 valves were bent, it sure seems to me there was quite a bit of damage.

Changing a timing belt is quite an involved process. It’s not that difficult technically, if there is just one cam sprocket to deal with, it is no more difficult from a technical standpoint than the ability to correctly dial a combination lock; but the engine mount has to be remove, and the engine has to be properly supported so as not to cause other engine damage, all the various covers removed, the crank pulley removed, then the new belt properly routed and positioned and tensioned to maintain the correct valve timing, all of this is very time consuming, and the shop manual procedure has to be followed step by step exactly in order. So there’s always a chance a mistake could have been made at some point in the process, especially if the tech felt hurried to get the job done.

hmmm … so what would I do if this were my car … hmm … well, the squeal may be just the accessory pulley is loose. That has to be taken off to do the timing belt, and it might be put on loose is all. Or too tight. So ask to check that belt’s tension. Next I’d suspect the engine mount may not have been put back on correctly,which can cause the car to shake, esp when idling. So ask them to double check that. Finally, I’d ask them to check the valve clearances and verify the valve timing. Also, to address the water sound, ask them to double check that there isn’t an air bubble in the cooling system. A bubble could have got in during the timing belt change for some reason or another. It may just need to be air-bled.

Okay @Whitey…you love timing belt engines…I don’t. @MikeinNH…I guess you have never heard of collector cars. They have timing chains which do not degrade over time like timing belts and yes…they are decades old.

I guess you have never heard of collector cars.

Re-read my post…Show me the collector car that is driven daily. It’s not really the age of a timing chain…but the mileage. When a timing chain has about 250k miles…it means it’s been used a lot and laws of physics come into play. Fatigued metal over time/use will stretch. A timing chain that’s stretched can slip a tooth. I’ve seen them.

I know several people with collector cars…most if not all have less then 50k miles…so I’m pretty sure their timing chains haven’t been stressed too much.

I don’t “love” timing belt engines. I just don’t think there is any reason to fear them. Mine has been reliable for 14 years and 242,000 miles.

NASCAR engines used timing belts because they were better able to handle high rpms. Ford timing chains were notorious for premature failing for several decades… Interference engines seem to be the problem regardless how the camshaft if turned. .

If the engine designer is so cost-driven to use the rubber belt cam drive system, at LEAST he could arrange for his masterpiece to be the non-interference variety…

Most manufacturers have moved away from belt cam drives as consumers have learned the hard way to avoid them…Also, it’s hard to offer a 100K mile powertrain warranty when your engine uses a belt cam drive system…

Who makes timing belts out of rubber? The only ones I’ve seen are composite materials with steel belting woven into them.

If ANY of your belts are made of only rubber, I recommend you upgrade them right away.

I don’t have a problem at all with belts but I do agree with Caddyman that engines should be designed as non-interference.
Maximum performance race car engines use valve reliefs so I would think a garden variety grocery getter would do just fine with them also.

It would be interesting to know how much the shop hit the OP up for engine repairs that were more than likely caused by a screwup on their part; and apparently future problems are not out of the question either.