Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

Timing belts

My 2001 Olds Alero has 80k miles. It has a chain drive timing belt. Do these type of belts require replacement on the same basis

as the as the rubber/neopryne types.

Either it is a chain or a belt. It can’t be both. Which is it?

A belt is not a chain.
A chain is not a belt.

Which one does your car have?
(Note: I know the answer, but I want to find out if the OP knows the answer.)

All I know is that it is a chain that is continuously wrapped around the outer edge
of the gears. Don’t really know if it is called a chain drive or belt.

Most GM cars have chain drives. They will last up to the life of the engine IF the oil is changed regularly. At 80,000 miles, the chain is about 30-40% through it’s life. It will get noisy as a warning that it needs replacement. In my 52 years of car ownership, with only one car with a belt, I have only replaced one timing chain and gear set, on a 1984 Impala V8, in 1996. Cost was a whole $250!

If it is a timing chain it generally does not need any maintenance unless it get noisy. For that reason I’d take a chain over a belt any time.

But the place to look is always in the owner’s manual since it should describe all recommended maintenance.

Yes, it is a chain, not a belt.

As long as you change the oil on a rational schedule, and as long as you don’t do a lot of full-throttle acceleration runs, the timing chain should last as long as you want to keep the car.

Chains do last a LOT longer then belts…BUT…I’ve yet to own a vehicle with more then 250k miles on it that didn’t need a new chain. If you plan on keeping your vehicle over 250k miles then you may need to replace the chain. But wait until it gets noisy. This is a LOT more expensive then a belt (3-4 times the cost).

I’m new to the forum, so bear with me… we have hondas and I was told that, contrary to popular belief, if the belt(or is it a chain) fails, it won’t ruin your engine-- you just wont be able to drive it till its fixed. However, I just heard on the car talk show Tom said that this guys Saab engine would be ruined if his belt was allowed to fail. Opinions,anyone?

There are interference, and non-interference motors. Interference means if the valves stop moving the pistons will hit the valve(s) and in effect the motor is ruined, or at least a major tear down and rebuild is needed. Non-interference means the valves and pistons won’t hit if the valves stop moving.

Most Honda motors with timing belts are interference motors. You can go to (getes makes timing belts) and find out the case for your specific motor.

You were given bogus information. Every Honda engine with which I am familiar has an “interference” design engine, meaning that when a timing belt snaps, valves and pistons collide, thereby causing bent valves and very possibly “nicked” pistons. However, it is possible that your Honda has a timing chain, rather than a belt.

If it has a chain, you will probably tire of the car before the chain needs replacement. If it has a belt, you need to replace it at 105k miles or 7.5 years, whichever comes first.

If you will share with us the model, model year, and engine type/size of your mystery Honda, we can comment more specifically as to whether it has a belt or a chain.

Well, in this case its my son’s '96 acura integra–(I have an '05 accord and am not there yet) He has 178k miles on it, and it had just been done when he bought it at 91k mi.