What is a Timing Belt and Why Should I Care About It?
Anyone who has ever been running down the road and had a timing belt break will understand how important this rubber belt truly is.
Timing belt keeps the crankshaft in time with the engine to open the valves properly. Most vehicles today have a timing belt normally a Kevlar mix with rubber for longer life. The importance of this function cannot be understated.
This belt keeps the engine in synchronization that allows for the proper functioning of the internal combustion process. It keeps the pistons from striking the valves, thus the word timing. This precise function allows the valves to open and close with each timed rotation. In other words, your engine cannot run without this belt.
As with a lot of parts in your vehicle this belt can and will wear out over time. Depending on the strain your car, truck or SUV experiences on a daily basis will dictate the necessity for your attention. Most belts are rated to around 30K to 50K miles, some later model vehicles will have higher ratings. Again that depends on the work load of your vehicle. Have a professional tell you based on your miles and use if your belt might need attention.
Timing belt failures can be catastrophic to your engine. If the belt gives up on you this can cause internal issues beyond repair. If your vehicle seeming just has no power immediately, safely pull over and shut down the engine. Watch for engine temperatures to immediately spike, shut down as fast as you can. You can crack an engine block quickly. If you’ve experienced this a quick look in your radiator for engine oil is a tell-tale sign your engine has experienced a catastrophic event. The vehicle will need to be towed.
Older vehicles are more susceptible to this type of event. If you’re purchasing a car with high miles you may want to consider having the belt changed before you begin putting a lot more miles on the car. Sadly, more times than not if a timing belt breaks the heat cracks the engine block before you can safely stop the car.
This is a job for a professional with the proper tools to install the belt and adjust the timing to match OEM specifications. Keep in mind that you can’t visually inspect the belt it does take a technician to help with that.