I have a 96 Nissan 300zx with 35,000 miles. My sister just recently had her timing belt on her vehicle break. Since then I have been concerned that I may need to replace the timing belt on my car. I have read that Nissan suggests replacing them around 48 months or 60,000 miles. The car has been kept inside a garage and barely driven in rain or snow. Should I replace the timing belt? Also is there any other maintenance I should do to keep the vehicle in tip top shape?
Should you replace it?
First you should ask yourself the following two questions:
Was the belt replaced within the last 48 months or 60k miles (whichever came first)?
Are you eager to experience catastrophic engine damage?
If the answer to both questions is “no”, then you need to do it.
Hint: Driving in rain, snow, or fair weather has nothing to do with deterioration of the timing belt, nor does where the car is parked.
If you have never done this in the 15 years of this car’s life, you are long overdue and on borrowed time. Have it done ASAP. Time is at least as important as mileage.
It needs it done by time or miles which ever comes first. No exceptions except for those who really enjoy a seriously damaged engines and maybe long walks on dark rainy nights when your timing belt goes.
You are long overdue on the timing belt change. What kind of servicing does this car get and how often?
Have you ever replaced the coolant? Brake fluid? Transmission fluid? Power steering fluid? Air filter? Spark plugs?
Best source of info on keeping your car maintained is the maintenance section of the owners manual. Edmunds.com has a good service guide you can refer to that is specific for every car model you can go to if you don’t have an owners manual.
Fluids, rubber parts like hoses and belts degrade with age whether you drive the car a lot or not. To avoid break downs on the road have your belts and hoses checked and/or replaced before one breaks or burst on you. If it is a fluid change it, new fluids is like fresh food for your car, it likes it.
This does have an interference engine, so I’d change the timing belt.
I wouldn’t trust a 15 y.o. timing belt even if it spent that time sitting new on a shelf.
How cold was the interior of the garage where the car was stored? That may explain why the belt is still working. Cold storage is good for preserving many things, food, photographic film, rubber materials such as timing belts and more.
Often you see here on Car Talk a mileage limit for timing belts of 60,000 to 105,000 miles depending on the brand and also a time limit, typically 7 years. The time limit is a catch-all to cover some other possibilities such as a very hot climate and/or possibly severe air pollution that we may not see here in the US or a vehicle that spent most or all of its time at low speed in an urban environment making the belt’s exposure time to a high (normal engine) temperature longer. Low vehicle speed also means more engine revolutions and therefore more belt flexing per mile traveled.
You may still be within life expectancy limits of the belt but they may fall under contingencies too complicated for the simple mileage-time specification so yes, protect your engine and get the timing belt changed. The mileage-time limit must be simple for busy mechanics and vehicle owners to understand.
If, by now, you are bored with reading this post, that is more evidence to validate the simple mileage-time limit for timing belt life.