Timing belt

I have a 1994 Toyota Camry with 89,000 miles. The user’s manual seems ambiguous about whether or not one must replace the timing chain at 90,000. My repair facility was also unsure.

Marmee; your OWNER’S MANUAL will say something about this. And if it indeed has a CHAIN, it won’t need regular replacement. Only TIMING BELTS need regular replacement.

Your repair facility should know a) if your vehicle has a belt or a chain, and 2) what the replacement, if any, cycle should be.

You have to tell this panel whether the car has a 4 cylinder or 6 cylinder engine. The 6 definitely has a belt (which needs regular replacement), while the 4 cylinder may or may not have one.

Well, to be honest, your post is a bit ambiguous, with references to both a timing belt and a timing chain, and with no explanation of which engine (4-cylinder or 6-cylinder). However, the manual should not be ambiguous, and should have both an odometer mileage value and an elapsed time value for changing the timing belt that both of Toyota’s engines use.

The website for the Gates Corp, manufacturer of timing belts, recommends belt replacement for both of these engines at 60k miles. Normally, a 60k recommendation equates to ~5 years of elapsed time when recommendations are given. Elapsed time recommendations are given for cars like yours that are rarely driven, simply because rubber belts harden and crack just from sitting, even with little or no engine use.

Your mechanic should know that the car has a timing belt, rather than a chain, and he should also be aware that you are seriously past due for having this belt changed. If I were you, I would have some concern about this mechanic’s technical knowledge.

Anyway–if the timing belt on this engine is the original, I would strongly suggest that you get it replaced tomorrow. While neither of the possible engines in '94 Camrys are of the “interference” type, it is still factual that when the belt snaps without warning (not IF it snaps), your engine will immediately stop running and you will have no power assist for the steering. If that happens on the highway, you could wind up in a very dangerous situation.

If this is the original belt, you have been unusually lucky, since the belt is about 10 years past due for replacement. This luck will not hold forever. When the belt is replaced you should have the water pump, the serpentine belt, and all belt tensioners replaced at the same time.

Edited to add:
Doc–You beat me to it! I was typing my usual long-winded answer while you were posting your more concise one.

Both the 4-cylinder and the V6 engine in the '94 Camry use timing belts. Since the belt on your car is now 16 years old I think it would be a good idea to have it replaced.

If the belt breaks the engine will stop running, no matter where you are or how fast you’re going, and it will not restart. When the engine stops running you lose power steering and power brakes.

Imagine that happening while you’re in the fast lane of the expressway in rush hour traffic. YIKES!

The good news is; these are not interference engines, so they won’t be damaged when the timing belt breaks.

I suggest it’s better to schedule the timing belt replacement at your convenience rather than gamble and be seriously inconvenienced when the belt breaks, and it will. It’s just a matter of when.

A few years ago I got a call on the weekend in the middle of the night from a friend of my wife, whose daughter was stranded on a main route in a not-so-friendly part of the city. After asking a few questions, it appeared the timing belt had snapped on her non-interference engine.

I advised her to call the AAA and drop the vehicle off at the shop of a mechanic friend of mine in the general area. And slip a note though the key drop off hole describing the problem. I called the shop first thing Monday morning.

The moral of this story is, as Mcparadise says, you could loose power in a very dangerous or inconvenient place.

As usual, I agree with McP. The belt is overdue to be changed.

belt shoulda been changed atleast 3 times by now. The manual should give a mileage elapsed interval as well as a TIME elapsed interval

For the sake of argument only, if the belt should have been changed at least 3 times by now and it hasn’t, and the engine is fine, why should anyone believe that the belt should have ever been changed up to this point?

Lucky doesn’t make it smart. If you think that luck will carry over, would you withdraw your entire 401K and go to Las Vegas?