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Timing Belts

Should timing belts be changed after 5 years even if they have not reached the end of their mileage life? Pat Goss on Motorweek thinks so. Any comments or history with this?

I have also seen seven years as when to change if the mileage max is not achieved, and that is the figure I use. Pat Goss may be more conservative than that.

Pat Goss probably either does his own work or gets it done for nothing or next to nothing by using his position in the industry. Either way, I’ll be he doesn’t pay nearly what regular folk do and it is an expensive job. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an interval as short as 5 years. Of course, there’s a lot I haven’t seen.

Most cars I have seen list at least seven year life or better.   Since designs vary, I suggest checking the owner's manual to verify how many years the manufacturer recommends.

I think 5 years is overkill but he has his own TV show and I don’t.

I had a 92 Plymouth minivan with a 3.o Mitsubishi built V-6. It was 7 years old with 60,000 miles and I was thinking of changing the belt. It looked like a complicated job and I called a local dealer to find out if the engine would be destroyed if the belt broke.

The service writer said he didn’t know, the only ones they had changed were because of a leaking water pump.

That minivan went to the junkyard because of rust at 14 years and 170,000 miles with the original belt.

We recently conducted an informal survey on this forum to see who had or knew of the longest-lived timing belt. On last week’s show, a woman said she had a Volvo with the original timing belt that broke after 23 years and 240,000 miles.

Of course, at the other end of the spectrum, there were one or two people who reported premature belt breakage in the 20,000-60,000 mile range, but those are rare too.

On an interference engine I’d play it safe and say 5 years is a good time to do it. There’s also other factors involved with timing belt changes and that is environmental conditions and any potential timing belt case oil or coolant leaks.

Extremes of heat and cold shorten the belt’s life and oil or coolant drips/vapors can saturate a belt and cause it to fail.

Many also look at the model year of a car and omit a year. If the car is an '05 they may assume it’s about 5 years old. Not necessarily. The car was likely built in the summer or fall of '04 and who knows when the belt was manufactured or how long it has been loitering around a warehouse without going through a regular stock rotation.
In this case, the belt may have actually gone through more than 6.5 years of use already.