CarTalk.com Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Timing belts

Is it possible by visual inspection to tell the difference between a timing belt that has <40,000 miles vs one that has >90,000. Thanks for your help.

NOPE…You may be able to tell the difference between a brand new one and one that has 110k miles. Timing belts may or may not show signs of fatigue.

Agree with MIke; timimg belts have lasted as long as 200,000 miles. When in doubt, replace it when the time/mileage has come or when you don’t know the history of the car.

Nope, visual inspection is useless.

When I had my timing belt changed for the first time on my 98 Civic at 90,000 miles (the recommended interval for my vehicle), I asked to see the old belt. It looked like new.

I suggest you get yours changed at the interval recommended in your owner’s manual, regardless of what it looks like.

At the same time, I “inspected” the timing belt on my older Accord by taking off the valve cover and it looked fine on the pulley, but when I when I actually went to change it a few months later, it had serious cracks in the the ribs and I was easily able to snap it with my bare hands.

A timing belt that has had some use will show some scuffing on the back side. As was said, visual inspection is fairly useless. I don’t have one but if I did, I would check a new and also a used belt with a Durometer A rubber hardness tester. The configuration of a timing belt might make this difficult and unrepeatable, however.

Timing belt rubber will harden with heat and time and there is no way that I know of to inspect the reinforcement cords if metal, fiberglass or whatever.

It is likely that there are methods to inspect a timing belt for remaining life but is would be more expensive than simply replacing the belt. Would you spend $100 to test and then another $450 to remove and replace your used belt that cost $25 new? No would be the correct answer.

Fair enough. Visual inspection can be useful, but only if you can see signs of stress. If the belt appears good after 60,000 or 90,000 miles, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t need to be changed.

If the oil container doesn’t have the API/SAE seals approval on it, it doesn’t go into any of my engines.

What? I posted this under the Green Oil post?

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!

Tester

Tester, What Oil Container? The One That Contains The Timing Belt Oil? Just Kidding.

I think your answer jumped time from an oil question to a timing belt question.

CSA

Change the timing belt at the prescribed interval. There are other components - water pump, belt tensioner, that are accessed in the same way as the timing belt. Labor costs for this access are the major part of the total bill. Since the water pump, etc. can fail, too, do them all at once.