Timing Belts: Honda or Gates

I have a 1999 Honda Civic EX with 184,000 miles and it’s due for its second timing belt replacement. I’ve gotten quotes from dealers in the area who will do it for around $800 (along with water pump replacement). The local shop would only charge $400 for both, but they use Gates timing belts. I’m wondering if going with the aftermarket belt is worth saving $400 or might they not be as reliable and cause future headaches?

I’d save the money. Honda does not make timing belts. Honda buys them from suppliers like Gates. $400 for a timing belt and water pump is a good price. You don’t need a dealer for this.

Agree; Gates makes belts for all kinds of cars, and I would take a Gates belt over an Original German Volkswagen belt, for instance. The $400 quted is a good deal; go for it!

This isn’t an issue of the Gates belt or the Honda belt…More of a issue of dealer vs independent. Last time I priced out the Honda belt…it was a whopping $2 more then the Gates belt. Gates belts are fine. They make high quality belts…probably makes the one for Honda too.

Thanks for the responses so far! You’re answering my question about the type of belt.

I guess now the question is this: Which would be the better choice–the Honda dealer or the small town mechanic—the latter is independant–not Pep Boys, or Midas, etc.
Is it worth saving $400 by going to an independant over dealer—what might the difference in the quality of the work or guarantee? Do dealers offer any safeguards that small town mechanics don’t?

I avoid dealers like the swine flu. Dealer mechanics are no better than independent mechanics, but you usually pay more at a dealer. Stay away from the chain places, but a good independent is the way to go. If you can find one who specializes in Honda that’s even better.

Purchase the least expensive belt/labor and don’t bother with Honda dealer.

This isn’t rocket science. There is NOTHING a dealer is going to do better or differently that a GOOD independent mechanic will do. The independent quality will probably be as good or even better then the dealer.

Your car is “common as dirt”, and all sorts of independent mechanics know how to do this very common service. If your car was an Acura NSX sports car, by all means have it serviced by the dealer. As others point out dealers are no better or worse than independent mechanics at this sort of work, but will be guaranteed to charge up to 100% more for the same service!

If your local mechanic is familiar with the differences between a Honda and all the others, then he should be just fine.

Differences are, the Honda engine turns in the opposite direction of other engines and you need a special tool to hold the harmonic balancer in place while removing the crankshaft bolt and you need a torque wrench capable of 186 ft lbs (most only go to 150).

One belt is as good as another so that’s a non-issue. Gates manufactures belts for many companies (so does Goodyear, Dayco, etc.) and it could be that Gates even manufactures belts for Honda Motor Co.

Assuming each job is the same as to what is replaced (the tensioners have not been mentioned) then an independent shop will also work fine.
The reason the Honda dealer is higher (assuming there’s no tensioner discrepancy) is because the dealer will be using Honda OEM parts and factory provided parts are usually higher in price than aftermarkets.

It’s not that the dealer is gouging you; it’s the fact that the dealer cost on factory provided parts is usually higher than aftermarket retail prices.

Gates makes excellent quality belts, and I believe they also provide for Honda, so that is not an issue at all. The quote from the independent is excellent, so I would go with that as long as they are also replacing the tensioner and water pump.

First, use a Gates, Goodyear, Dayco, etc. a name brand is just as good as an OEM.

Second, it is not a sin as others might have you believe to use a dealer. They will be more expensive. The techs typically get more training but that does not mean much if the tech does not do quality work. In other words, bad techs work for indie shops and dealer shops alike. Good techs work for indie shops and dealer shops alike.

If you do use a dealer shop tell them to use an aftermarket belt, they will. One dealer told me they don’t like to use them. I asked the writer if he wants to make a sale? They used an aftermarket.

Some like independent shops and that’s ok, they have had good luck with them but on 3 different occasions indies tried to screw me over. I go to dealers but I set the ground rules and I have plenty of auto experience to back me up.