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What is the longest anyone has gone without changing a timing belt?

My personal longest is 14 years and 170000 miles on a 3.0 liter 92 Plymouth Voyager.

I went the length of the life of several car motors that used chains.

Oldtimer, I commend you for being willing to admit that…
I wouldn’t brag about it, however.

I did a timing belt on the friend of my brother’s Toyota a few years back. The car had the original belt, was probably 14 years old at the time, with about 140K on the clock

But as soon as I took off the cover, it was clear the belt wasn’t long for this world. The rubber was getting pretty soft, and was severely cracked.

On my own personal vehicles, I always changed them by mileage or time, whichever came first.

My old service writer’s philosophy was to change timing belts when they break . . . but he didn’t know nearly as much about cars as he thought he did. That’s why he wasn’t the one turning wrenches.

A few years back a contributor to this forum worked for a timing belt manufacturer. He said they get belts in their manufacturing testing that last to the 420K mile range.

Unfortunately, he didn’t convey what their testing bell curve looked like for the belts finally broke.

A few months ago I did a timing belt job on a 94 Accord with 130,000 miles. So I’ll call that a 20 year old belt. It was still running, but I can’t really comment on the looks of the belt. It was oil soaked from a failed oil seal.

I used to get the Honda newsletter. It covers Honda stories from around the world. One owner in Canada had driven his Civic over 250,000 kilometers (155,000 miles) on the original timing belt. It still looked good upon inspection.

If I were Honda I would stop publishing such irresponsible behavior. Honda timing belts have at least a 100% safety margin under normal use.

I don’t think I’ve ever taken one past 100K - but I had one break at 30K once. It was on a '91 Escort, and was the replacement belt. I can’t recall the brand of belt. Luckily those engines are non-interference - even though the Gates guide says they’re interference.

Oddly enough the owner’s manual for a '97 Escort gives no change interval at all. It actually says to “inspect” the belt at 120K. Very odd. I just go with a change at 100K and haven’t had any trouble. They remained non-interference - regardless of what the Gates guide says.

I try to avoid owning any vehicle with a timing belt. If it doesn’t have a timing chain…it’s not on my radar. +1 for @dagosa.

Climate has a lot to do with the life of the belt. Other factors have to do with the radius of the timing gears and the heat the belt is subjected to when the engine is running. Not sure I would try pushing the limit in the hot, humid south.

Belts could last a lot longer if they used a silicone rubber instead of latex. with larger gear sets, I don’t see why a kevlar reinforced silicone rubber belt wouldn’t easily last the life of an engine, longer than some timing chains in fact.

LOL… @cigroller was that Escort the 1.9 liter engine? They were notorious for the water pump seizing and breaking the timing belt. Happened to mine at around 60,000 miles.

@doubleclutch, it was a 1.9L but nothing else failed. So it wasn’t the waterpump or tensioner or idler or whatever. The dumb belt just broke. Probably a defect - who knows. Luckily I wasn’t in traffic or anything and had actually just made a turn onto a back road with a good shoulder about 1 mile from a shop that I used once in a while. So all I had was a suddenly dead car and comparatively minor inconvenience.

Not something I’d be willing to try to achieve.

The reason I never changed the belt. 1: the owners manual did not mention it. 2: It looked like a bear of a job. 3: At 60000 miles I called my local Chrysler dealer to see how many broken belts they had changed on these motors and they said none, they had never seen one break. The service manager said all the ones they replaced were because of leaking water pumps.
4: Six years before I junked the car, when I had about 82000 mile on it , the dealer offered me a $200 trade in on it. Who would do a timing belt on a $200 van? It went to the junkyard because of rust at 170000 miles still running fine.

"it looked like a bear of a job"
That’s one good reason to go back to chains. Engine compartments are getting (have been ) crowded, the cost of doing is high and having a car break down on the side of a road with a motor with a design life of 200 k because a critical internal element was not changed is a bad advertisement for any motor car maker.

My gf had probably 150K on her Honda Passport’s timing belt. The frame rusted out and there was no reason to spend money on it. The vehicle itself had probably about 260K–but it’s hard to tell because the speedometer/odometer worked when they felt like it.

The motor will reach its intended design life if it is maintained well

That includes the timing belt

As I’ve said before, I have no problems with timing belts . . . and I’ve done a few by now

In fact, I like the idea of them

I think a car broken down because of a neglected timing belt is a reflection of the owner, not the manufacturer . . .

While one person on the west side of town refers to going 200k miles on a timing belt another person on the east side of town is in a panic at the service counter after just being told their engine has major damage due to a broken belt that had nowhere near 200k miles on it.

That “nowhere near 200k miles” car might have had a 10 or 15 year old timing belt

Very true; along with oil or coolant leaks. The entire purpose of changing the belts is to make sure that the car owner is not one of those people sobbing at the service counter or slamming to a halt while trying to beat a Burlington Northern freight train before the gates lower…

Personally, I don’t have a problem with belts at all. The highest mileage belt I can remember seeing is the one I did on my youngest son’s Camry recently at about 190k miles. There were a few others in the 150k range and the lowest mileage broken belt I can remember is one that had about 20k miles on it. The latter was just a fluke in my opinion and luckily it was on a free-wheeler motor.