How do we take care of the timing belt in our car?
The movement of all the internal components in your engine is finely choreographed. All the elements have to work together, and if the timing of these components is off, they can smash into each other and cause severe or catastrophic damage. One of the most intricate assemblies in your engine has to do with the combustion cycle.
Your engine has cylinders in which a piston travels up and down. At the top of the cylinders are valves open to bring in the air and fuel. And there are valves that open to let out the exhaust after the fuel has been burned. It’s critical that the values be timed to open and close at precisely the right time in the combustion cycle, or the engine will run poorly or not at all.
The timing belt is responsible for rotating the shafts that control these valves. It’s vital and precision work. Timing belts are made of very tough, flexible material. They can last a long time. But they eventually wear out and can break. Those consequences can be disastrous.
In some engines, the valves actually protrude far enough into the cylinders that they could come in contact with the piston. If the timing belt breaks, the pistons will smash into the valves. Valves
get bent or broken. If the engine rpm
is fast enough, the broken parts will shred the cylinder walls as well. Repairing this damage can cost several thousand dollars.
This is why manufacturers have issued recommendations for when you should replace your timing belt. For some engines, it’s as early as 60,000 miles. For others it’s
at 90,000 miles or more. If you’re approaching 60,000 miles, or have passed it, make sure you check your owner’s manual or with you with Automotive Remedies for when the timing belt should be replaced.
Now, timing belts are hidden under a protective cover and are hard to get to. Some timing belts also drive the water pump. If you have a leaky water pump, the coolant will contaminate the timing belt and could make it fail sooner. So, if you have a coolant leak, get it in for an inspection right away.
Most people in the San Diego area with this type of engine design end up with a new timing belt when they replace the water pump. When you’re having your timing belt replaced, it makes sense to install a new water pump at the same time, even if it's not currently having problems, since most of the labor is already being paid for due to the timing belt replacement.
As a heads up; larger engines will often have metal timing chains rather than belts. The chains don’t need to be replaced like belts.