Timing belt/Water pump change required!

Own a 2001 Dodge Stratus, 4 cyl DOHC, 110,000 miles. 20+ town/30+ road mpg, no major problems. Recently major tune-up/check done; no problems determined. My mechanic (I trust him, but…) has recommended a timing belt/water pump change (exclaimed reason for latter in terms of former, his price to do seems very, very reasonable and has recommended OEM parts which I can purchase from local dealer). I’m a great believer in “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” As I’ve had no major problems with this car and it continues to perform great, I wonder at “breaking into” the motor in this fashion. Necessary? Not? Wish Click & Clack would chime in on this one.

This is necessary maintenance not fixing something that is not broken. Timing belts have a life span and need to be replaced at regular intervals. Changing the water pump at the same time is good protection. If the belt breaks it will trash the engine. If the water pump goes, it will trash the belt, which will trash the engine. But by all means check the mileage and time interval for belt replacement in your owner’s manual.

Timing belts are maintenance items on this engine, so your “if is isn’t broke, don’t fix it” really doesn’t work. It appears the interval for this engine is 100K. Necessary and avoids a timing belt break at an inconvenient time. Water pump is done at same time because labor is no different when done as part of the timing belt change. It’s up to you, but I would be getting the work done.


It Won’t Hurt A Bit!

I believe in "If it ain’t broke…, too! However…

Your 2.4L 4 cyl. is listed as an “interference” engine on the Gates automotive belts site. You will damage your engine if that belt breaks! Do the belt and pump, too, while you’re in there!

Check it out yourself!

Read about interference engines and then look up your car/engine by clicking this link. You will go to the Gates timing belt page.


Do it. It’s necessary. Your owner’s manual will tell you that it is required maintenance. You do not want that belt to break while you are driving because you will destroy your engine. Your mechanic is “looking out for you”. By chance, is his name Bill???

You can’t AFFORD to wait until it IS broke; then, you’ll be looking at some very expensive “broke”!

Engine repair resulting from neglecting to change the timing belt is $2500-$3000 on many cars. Your mechanic really has your interest at heart!!! So, change your philosophy about car maintenance and have it done! The purpose of maintenance is two-fold; life extension and FAILURE PREVENTION!

Tom and Ray have never been silent. Remember; it’s the cheapskate who pays the most. They said that and wrote that. If the belt gets changed and the water pump starts leaking 8,000 miles later, you will pay a lot more.

I just can’t figure out why the maintenance of one’s car should be such a mystery when the car’s manufacturer provides all of the information that is needed. All one has to do is to open up the glove compartment and take out the appropriate booklet outlining the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule. This can be contained either in the Owner’s Manual or in a separate booklet with an appropriate title.

Somebody does not need to have technical knowledge in general, nor does someone have to be specifically knowledgeable about cars in order to understand the maintenance information. All that one needs is the ability to read on approximately an 8th grade reading level, and of course, the ability to find the glove compartment and open the compartment.

That being said, YES, the timing belt does need to be replaced on the “interference” engine of this vehicle. Right now, it might not be “broke”, but that could change in a milisecond with absolutely no warning, at a very high cost when pistons and valves collide.

For a few hundred $$, the timing belt can be changed now (albeit later than it should have been changed), thus avoiding repair costs of…perhaps $1,500.00…when the belt snaps. Even though the maintenance schedule probably does not specify the proactive replacement of the water pump, it is financially prudent to do this at the same time as the timing belt replacement–for reasons that the mechanic can explain.

So, one can open up the glove compartment, find out how to prevent damage and to preserve the life of one’s car by simply reading and following the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule, or one can keep the glove box closed and wait until things break. Unfortunately, the latter course of action is extremely short-sighted and is invariably more expensive and less convenient for the car owner. It all depends on one’s approach to car maintenance, and to life in general.


That was simply eloquent.

Thank you.

I know that I tend to be a crank on the importance of reading the Owner’s Manual and the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule, but the fact remains that all too many people see fit to ignore something that is sitting…literally…just a few feet from the driver’s seat.

All too often, by ignoring readily available information, they wind up turning something very simple into an unnecessarily costly experience for themselves.

In addition to the timing belt, and water pump. I would also replace the Idler bearing and tensioner.

It sure doesn’t hurt while you’re in there! That’s good sound advice and well worth the little added expense.

To add a little drama, most of the flooding during hurricane Katrina could have been avoided with known proactive levee reinforcement. The budget for this was shot down by someone in the White House.

Not touch’n that one.
You know what they say about politics and religion…

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Well in this case when it does brake, it can do a lot of expensive damage. Think of it as a fuel tank. You know about how full it is, but you can never know when exactly you will run out of fuel. It would appear you are almost empty and when it brakes you are going to be very unhappy that you did not replace it earlier.

Oh come on! Everyone knows that Katrina was God’s way of saying that New Orleans needs to go. Enough sin already. The flooding had nothing to do with budgets and everything to do with a hurricane hitting a city that was built below sea level.

Thanks to all for the input. I’m all over this, including the bearing and tensioner. The unanimity of your opinions was a pleasant surprise. And when was the last time any 16 people agreed on anything! Thanks again.