CarTalk.com Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Timing belt replacement

it is time to get a new timing belt installed in my 2003 toyota avalon. i was quoted a cost of $700.00 . i was told this is a 3 hour job. does this sound right?

As long as that price also includes replacing the water pump, the serpentine belt, and all belt tensioners for the timing belt and the serpentine belt, then it is an okay price. If the price does not include those items, then it is high–IMHO.

That’s a reasonable price–quite low even–for a timing belt job that includes new water pump, tensioner, idler pulleys, genuine Toyota coolant, serpentine belt.

Do you mean 3 hours as in you can drop the car off and pick it up in 3 hours?

@asemaster a mechanic would have to guzzle several red bulls in order to have all that work done in three hours, on a transverse V6, no less!

Seriously though, the guy would have to feel very motivated and everything would have to go off without a hitch.

I suspect it means he’s being charged 3 hours, which sounds extremely reasonable.

It’s easier to replace a timing belt on a transverse mounted engine than a fore aft configuration.

Keith, I have both, and the transverse mounted engine is much more difficult, involving a very cramped space and a motor mount to deal with. The longitudinal engine, I have all kinds of room with the radiator out.

I have had both and done quite a few timing belts on both, the longitudinal was hardest to me because of the radiator. The only Timing belt that I haven’t been successful with is our Honda Accord. When it was new, it was recalled for an oil seal problem and since the dealer uses a 3/4" drive impact wrench with 2000 ft lbs of torque to remove the crank bolt, I suspect that they put it back on with that. I bent a 36" long breaker bar almost 90 degrees without it even budging, I’m surprised the bar didn’t break. A snap-on 1/2" impact wrench with 90 psi supply would not move it either.

@db4690, I’d expect a professional technician in a repair facility with experience on these cars to have this job done in less than 3 hours, including the water pump. It’s an easy job for those who have done one before.

@keith, my experience is it depends on the car. Try a t-belt on a PT Cruiser for instance and you’ll be begging for a car to pull the radiator out of to access the belt.

The rear wheel drive Mazda 929 has a DOHC V-6 and I believe I can replace the timing belt, water pump, etc in less than an hour. There are just too many variations from car to car to make any broad generalizations about the difficulty of repairs based on any one feature. That 929 Mazda takes half a day to replace the bypass hose.

I think 3 hours is about right. I couldn’t do it in that time, I’d take at least 6 hours, probably more, but someone who does it all the time and has the necessary experience and tools (esp an impact wrench) probably could do it in 3 hours. The price seems fair to me. As mentioned above, for this price, it should include a new water pump and new timing belt tensioners.

It cost me $800 for a timing belt, water pump, serpentine belt, and coolant. That was the best price I got, and it was from a dealer. Your price sounds fine.

When replacing the water pump on this Toyota engine, the pump is trapped by rear/inside timing belt cover (stamped steel sheet metal). To remove the cover the cam sprockets have to be removed. There are two long torx studs that you have to clear with the W/P. Anyway, not a big deal but just a couple of extra steps to deal with on this engine which adds a bit to the cost.

It's easier to replace a timing belt on a transverse mounted engine than a fore aft configuration.

Maybe the engine you worked on…The only transverse timing belt I replaced was my wifes Accords…Both were a pain in the ass. Mainly because there was no room to work. There were a couple of bolts I couldn’t get my fore-arm into to reach the bolt. My neighbor with real skinny arms had to do it.

The belts I replaced on my forward facing Pathfinder were a piece of cake. The hardest part was removing the radiator (which was very simple).

My wifes lexus (ex-350 has a chain)…but the serpentine belt needed replacing…I wouldn’t do it…Again…no room to work on.

As far as transverse vs fore-aft, both have some easy ones and both have some tough ones. The easiest fore-aft timing belt I remember doing was the four cylinder Fox body Mustangs. Those had a ton of room to work and were very simple. The Chrysler 3.2L and 3.5L LH cars were pretty easy too. I can think of two easy transverse mounted timing belts that were a cakewalk. One is the 1.9L Ford Escorts from the early '90s and the other was the 2.0L AEG VW Jetta (I had to replace a defective water pump on that one a couple weeks after the fact, and water pump number two took an hour and a half to replace, including the trip to the auto parts store to exchange the leaking one). Toughest ones I have done include the PT Cruiser as previously mentioned and a Dodge Stratus I did a couple years ago that had the 2.5L V6.

I had mine changed a couple of months ago. I paid $500. I know my mechanic is a bit inexpensive but he does a good job. You can expect to pay a little more.

I replaced mine in MN last month for $750, including all new parts, ie wp, belts, ect.