Timing belt

Two years ago I bought a 99 mitsubishi galant for my grandaughter to drive on her visits home from college. Now she is going into her senior year an I want to give her the car except that I have no idea when the timing belt was last changed. Is there any way to tell?


Please help!

@lapdance Do you have receipts indicating that it’s been replaced? Did somebody leave a timing belt replacement sticker (the one that states the date and mileage of when it was replaced) in the engine bay?
If the answer is no, assume it’s never been replaced and is overdue, because many owners don’t replace the timing belt if they intend to sell the car soon.
As far as I know, there also won’t be a date code on the timing belt itself.

DB is correct and I will only add this. The belt should be replaced as part of a kit with the tensioners, water pump, and so on.

For what it’s worth, about 6 or 7 years ago my daughter bought a Galant without my input. The owner had changed the timing belt did not do the tensioners and water pump because he said “they looked fine”.
Not many months later the water pump was puking engine coolant out onto the new timing belt and that ruined the belt of course.

So I went in and did the job as it should have been done in the first place. Luckily in this case the belt did not break because the engines are interference-fit; meaning that if a belt breaks some degree of engine damage will occur.

Last time I checked, Mitsubishi’s are tough on timing belts, they don’t go much longer than 4 years. I would assume that it was replaced in 03 or thereabouts and again in 07, but was due again in 2011 and that may have motivated the owner to sell it at that time. It is an interference engine so if the belt breaks, it will damage the valves. This applies to both the 4 and the V6.

If you go ahead and replace the belt and the water pump, you will give her a car that should be trouble free for about 4 years or so. That should get her off to a good start.

The best thing to do with a car with an interference engine is to assume it has never been done (if you can’t remember) and get it done ASAP to avoid a very expensive repair bill. Every Mitsubishi engine I have seen with a failed timing belt had bent valves, except for the Diamondstar 3.0L V6 that was used in some Chrysler vehicles throughout the '90s.

Some manufacturer’s provide a hole to view the timing belt through the timing belt cover. That’s about the best you could do. But you usually can only see the outside surface, which isn’t a very good way to determine the belt’s condition, as the wear/cracking/fraying occur on the inside surface. Probably best just to phone up the shop and schedule to have it done.

It was interesting to read that Mitsubishi engine timing belts only last about 4 years. I had a 92 Plymouth Voyager with the 3.0 Mtisu. V6. At 8 years and 80000 miles I went to trade it in and the dealer offered me only $200 for it. I told him that for $200 I would keep it and just drive it until it dies but I determined not to make any expensive repairs.
It went to the junkyard after 14 years and 170000 miles with the original timing belt and water pump.
Rust and oil leaks did it in.

Some manufacturer's provide a hole to view the timing belt through the timing belt cover.

That viewing hole is only to visually inspect to see if the belt is broken. It’s not used to see how worn the belt is. In fact I don’t think you can. I’ve seen a perfectly good belt break for no reason.

As for belts lasting over 150k miles…well you can find examples of ALL manufacturers who’s belts last that long. The recommended number by the manufacturer is a WORSE case scenario estimate. Pretty much ALL should last at least that long. Some will last longer…and a smaller subset will last much much much longer.

4 years on a timing belt? all manufactures that build the engines and place a service life on timing belts by federal mandate of 120,000 miles. almost all manufactures recommend replacement of belts at 60,000 miles. that way your well out of warranty before any problems arise and the tensioners and water pump will not have failed at that change, saves the dealer $$$$$ in the long run!! also makes you put out aprox400$ to do the timing belt on the V-6 engines.
I have a 2005 Mitsubishi Gal;ant GTS 3.8 V-6 with 105,000 miles on it, no prob with it at all. Did the belt, water pump, tensioners, and seals at 100,000 for 648$, Runs as good as the day I bought it

almost all manufactures recommend replacement of belts at 60,000 miles

I haven’t seen a 60k timing belt recommendation by ANY MANUFACTURER in over 10 years. They are at LEAST 90K miles…most over 100k miles.

in the long run!! also makes you put out aprox400$ to do the timing belt on the V-6 engines

It depends on where you live. Here in NH where Independent hourly rates are a minimum of $80/hr and dealer rates are about $140/hr…then that $400 is way way way too low. Especially if you add in a new water pump. On my Pathfinders the timing belt replacement cost me about $250…and that’s just parts because I replaced it myself. (Timing belt, Water Pump, Radiator Hoses, drive belts, timing belt tensioner).

The only way to know for sure is to have it changed now. That’ll eliminate any question. Have the water pump and tensioner changed at the same time. They’ve aged as well.

@Mike Yes, the new norm is more like 105,000 miles and 7 years like Honda. Keep in mind that timing belts have to have a safety margin in them, and would be tested to at least 50%, and probalby 100% longer life than the specified change interval. It’s all about quality control. That’s why sometimes we see someone get 200,00 miles out of a belt without failure.

The design safety margin has to compensate for extreme hot, cold, possibly dirty service, number of stops and starts, etc. Manufacturers don’t like having to foot a large warranty bill that could have been avoided by spending an extra $10 or so by specifying a better belt.

All in all, go with the interval in your manual.