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Timing belt


I’ve been told that I need to replace my timing belt yet I’ve also heard that you can’t see the status of a timing belt until you take out the engine. I don’t want to replace the belt unless it really need replacing. Does anyone have any advice?

Make, model, year, miles would be helpful.

Check your owners manual, timing belt change intervals are by year/mileage whichever comes first. It’s a good idea to get the water pump and timing belt tensioner changed at the same time.

W/out knowing make/model/year no one can say what it takes to inspect the belt. But as noted, timing belt replacement doesn’t go by inspection but by time and mileage. If you are near or past the mileage or time specified in your owner’s manual then you need to have it done.

If you don’t have the manual or want to double check look at the “bible” - the Gates timing belt guide:


My advice is to open the glove compartment, take out the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule, and read what it has to say on the issue. Bear in mind that every maintenance procedure–including timing belt replacement–has an elapsed time value as well as an odometer mileage value governing when the procedure should be done, and it is in terms of “whichever comes first”.

You did not tell us the make, model, model year, engine type, odometer mileage and other pertinent information regarding your mystery vehicle, so nobody can give you information specific to your vehicle. If it has an “interference” engine, when the timing belt snaps, it will result in major repairs costing ~$2,000.00, over and above the cost of the timing belt.

If it is not an interference engine, at the very least, you will be stranded, and since timing belts rarely break at a convenient time or in a convenient place, the breakdown (with resulting loss of engine power, power steering, and power brakes) could take place in the passing lane, in close proximity to those rather large semi-trailers that are speeding only inches from your bumper.

Visual inspection of a timing belt will rarely tell you anything accurate about its remaining life span. As one of our most skilled mechanics says, your engine will run very nicely, right up to the milisecond AFTER the belt snaps, so don’t assume that you will have any auditory warning, warning lights, or rough running prior to the belt snapping.

So, it is your choice of what to do with this mystery vehicle. Do it according to the book and spend a few hundred dollars when the service is due, or wait until it snaps and pay…much more…in more ways than one.

Editorial Comment:
WHY is car maintenance such a mystery to so many people when the maintenance schedule–which is written in plain English, on an 8th grade reading level–is placed in the glove compartment of every vehicle as it leaves the factory? All that anyone has to do is to open the book and read the very clear maintenance advice in the booklet. None of us minds answering questions, but things like this are just so obvious if people would just use the resource that was provided by the car’s manufacturer. (sigh!)

Usually most timing belts are replaced in a 7yr/105,000 mile interval. If you have hit any of those parameters you are due if not past due.

Looking at it won’t even tell if it needs replacing typically.

The one point you have made is that someone (a dealer?) has advised you to change the timing belt. A dealer has a “vested interest” in getting services performed MUCH earlier than the car maker recommends. That’s why you want to go by the car maker’s recommended time or mileage recommendations. There are some things that “we” will recommend be performed that the car maker doesn’t mention. “We” are different because “we” don’t have a vested interest in the work ------ “we” don’t profit a dime for anything (here).

You’re getting bad advice.

If you wait until you need it…for many engines it’s too late. Many engines are interference engines. If the belt breaks your engine is TOAST.

What does your owner’s manual say about replacing the belt?