Timing belts (again)

I have a 97 Nisson Maxima and it just passed 150K miles. I bought it new in '97. It runs great and I have never replaced the timing belt. That was on the recommendation of a mechanic who owned several Maximas (Maximae?). He told me that this was one of the best engines ever made and that timing belt replacement was not necessary. As it passed 150K, I decided that I can’t dispute his engine assessment but several friends say I am way over my limit on luck re the belt. One friend in particular sends me e-mails on why this non-action was not very smart. Can these belts last forever? Am I pushing my luck?

“Am I pushing my luck?”

I’ve asked a similar question.

The answer is - yes.

Replace the belt now and you won’t need to worry about it.

Hmmm…So this mechanic apparently knows more than the people who designed and built the car? Interesting.

Nobody can force you to do what you don’t want to do, but I urge you to replace the timing belt a.s.a.p. While that engine is indeed one of the best engines ever made, once the belt snaps (with no warning), the engine will be essentially a useless hunk of metal and it will take at least $1,500 over and above the cost of the timing belt to get it running again.

If you are smart, you will have the timing belt, the water pump, the serpentine belt, and all belt tensioners replaced right away. Or, you can just let the belt snap and then decide whether to spend more than the car’s book value on repairs.
Your choice.

Your mechanic maybe owned really old ones.

I know this car has a timing chain so nothing to replace. I owned one for one month and a sheet of ice off a building totaled it.

Andrew’s comment leads me to ask:
Have you consulted the Nissan Maintenance Schedule that is (hopefully) sitting in your glove compartment?

If the maintenance schedule does not list timing belt replacement at 60k, 75k, 90k or 105k, then it is likely that you have a timing chain. Timing chains do not normally need to be replaced.

Please read the maintenance schedule so that you know what is called for with your engine.

Gates doesn’t list a timing belt for your Maxima, so it probably has a chain

Well, thanks for the responses to my question.
First, I checked the manual (note for VDCdriver: it is kept in the glove compartment) and it is indeed a timing chain on the '97 Maxima. Even with that info I was not sure about whether replacement might be required or what the penalty might be to wait until a chain failure (graceful degradation? engine catastrophe?). Now I think I am hearing that unless I notice some timing issue, I should let it alone and that a chain failure will likely not result in engine damage.

Again, thanks for your help.

PS the mechanic works for the dealership.

A timing chain normally lasts for the life of the engine, and if it is badly worn, it usually gives some audible clues–more or less like the sound of a chain beating against a piece of metal. So, rest easy for now, but if you ever begin to hear a new metallic noise such as I described, get it to a mechanic before the chain breaks.

Since your questions have been properly answered already, I have one for you.

You mention a mechanic at the dealership. Did an actual mechanic tell you this or was it a faux mechanic; a.k.a. service writer? Just wonderin’.
(Either way, when it comes to timing belts that recommendation is bunk.)

A friend of mine has a 98 maxima. It has a timing chain which does not need replacement and is still going strong with more than 200K miles.