Timing Belts: The Maintenance Item You Didn’t Know About

February 23, 2017

Timing Belt

Many vehicle owners are unaware that they should be replacing the timing belt in their vehicle. In many vehicles, timing belts are considered maintenance repairs just like tune-ups, brakes, and oil changes. Some vehicles are equipped with timing chains instead of belts.

Timing chains are considered non-serviceable items. This means that they are internal parts that you don't really mess with unless there is a problem.

In the case of timing belts, if the belt were to break, it could result in bent valves, rendering the vehicle inoperable and causing permanent damage. These are known as interference engines. If damage occurs, the motor will need to have extensive repairs made to the internal components or be replaced entirely—a costly expense to be sure.

When to Replace Timing Belts

Replacing the timing belt in your car can be an expensive repair. The total estimate will depend on the vehicle’s make and model, but in any event, it is considerably better than replacing a motor or buying another car. The recommendations for replacement of timing belts vary, but they can range from 60k to 120k mile intervals. You will need to consult your vehicle's manufacturer recommendations to find out when the timing belt in your vehicle should be replaced.

Replacing the water pump and timing components at the same time that you are replacing the belt is standard practice, and your mechanic should make that recommendation to you. Since this repair is labor intensive and falls within the higher end of repair costs, it makes sense to replace these other parts while they are doing the belt.

If the water pump were to develop a leak after you have the timing belt replaced, you are essentially looking at paying that high cost again, because the same amount of labor and time is involved in replacing the water pump. It is best to do everything at the same time and only pay once.

How do I Know if my Vehicle Has a Belt or a Chain?

If you are unsure if your vehicle is equipped with a timing belt or chain, a simple call to your local dealership or an internet search can answer that question for you. Another great reference source is your vehicle's owner's manual.

Once you have determined that your vehicle does indeed have a timing belt, RepairPal can assist you with locating a reputable and affordable mechanic in your area to provide you with an estimate for the cost of having the work performed.

RepairPal is working to mend the lack of trust consumers have in the car repair industry by providing them with in-depth knowledge and resources that connect them with dependable and reliable car repair shops near them.

Our goal is to establish an auto repair process that is less stressful and much more trustworthy for everyone involved. Our website hosts a car repair Estimator that gets rid of that "ripped-off" feeling. We also provide matches to local Certified shops that are guaranteed to do repairs with quality parts, a fair price, and a trained, awesome staff.

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About the Author

Kimberlea Buczeke is an automotive expert at RepairPal, the leading online source of auto repair resources and estimates. With many ASE Master certified mechanics on staff who have decades of experience, RepairPal knows all the fine points of car repair.

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