Here is some more information about timing belts. It’s worth the checkout, believe us!

Here is some more information about timing belts. It’s worth the checkout, believe us!

Why You Shouldn’t Drive With a Worn-Out Timing Belt

Your engine’s timing belt is the most important maintenance item in your car, and that’s a fact. When your timing belt gets old, it could break, and when timing belts break, bad things can happen.  Here’s what you should be aware of.

What timing belts are

A timing belt is a heavy rubber belt deep in your engine that couples the crankshaft in the engine to the above camshaft(s).   Essentially your timing belt keeps the valves in your engine’s top half rotating in sync with the pistons and crankshaft in your engine’s bottom half.

Not every car has them

Today, a few automobiles have timing belts and others have metal timing chains. There’s a big difference.  Timing chains have a better design because they are made of metal and generally don’t break like belts. In theory, timing chains can last the engine’s entire life, and they are essentially roller chains that have short cylindrical rollers held together by side links. But how do you find out which you have? Well, check your owner’s manual to see if timing belt maintenance is listed.

When replacement should happen

The question is when you should replace a timing belt.  Auto manufacturers employ various schedules for timing belt replacement, but the rule of thumb is around 60,000 miles or so. Some cars are more, some less.  The problem with a used vehicle is that you may not know when it was replaced last.  If you are in doubt as to your timing belt’s age, see your local dealer and have it examined.

What happens if you don’t get it replaced

A mechanic can quickly judge a timing belt by pulling a cover and looking at its condition. But if you don’t get it replaced and they advise you do, this may happen:

Worst case:  if your timing belt breaks, it could destroy the engine. It all depends if your engine is a “non-interference” or an “interference” or engine.  Here’s how these two types of engines differ:

In a non-interference engine, the pistons and valves don’t overlap, which means that if the timing belt breaks, no valve or cylinder damage occurs, the engine ceases to run.

And with an interference type engine the valve’s stroke and piston’s stroke overlap within the cylinder but at different times. Your timing belt essentially keeps them from hitting each other. If your timing belt snaps, the valves can smack into the pistons, resulting in bent valves or even cylinder head damage, and maybe even piston and cylinder wall damage.

Final Remarks

If you have a standard rubber-based timing belt and interface engine, go by your manufacturer’s replacement schedule.  By the way, a lot of work is involved when changing a timing belt so they can cost a lot to fix.  A typical job can be $600-$1200 but can buy you anxiety relief.

Thank you very much to Suburban Chrysler Dodge Jeep RAM of Ann Arbor, a full-service car dealer in Ann Arbor, MI, for talking to us about timing belt replacement! Be sure to contact them if you have any further questions about timing belts!

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