Timing Belt Replacement
Regular vehicle maintenance is important for the performance and longevity of your car, and perhaps with the exception of letting your car run out of oil, there are fewer things more potentially damaging to your car’s engine than the timing belt going bad. While the majority of the belts and hoses in your vehicle cause minimal problems when they need replacing, and most are not that expensive to repair, a bad timing belt could cost you your engine, making for one extremely expensive repair bill. A timing belt replacement prior to the part breaking can save your car.
Causes Of A Bad Belt
The timing belt is responsible for the timing of motions of parts of the engine, including the pistons and valves. These work together to power your car, but a specific rhythm must be maintained to keep the parts working as they should. Belts are made of rubber. The heat of the engine causes the belt to stretch, and with age, the belt weakens. This affects the teeth of the belt, which is what the engine depends on for the timing of its functions.
If the belt breaks or the worn teeth cause it to slip, the timing of the various parts of the engine are affected. While there is no prior warning for a bad belt, most mechanics use the age of the vehicle for recommendations regarding timing belt replacement. A general guideline is replacing the belt every 50,000 to 60,000 miles to ensure that it remains in good working order.
While the timing belt is no different than your vehicle’s other belts in composition, it is the location of this rubber belt that can cause problems, particularly if your vehicle contains an interference engine. With this type of engine, there is only a small amount of space between pistons and the valves. If the timing belt breaks or slips, it can cause damage to the pistons; in the worst case scenario, a piston can collide with one of the engine’s open valves.
This will cause your car to stop, and it won’t start again without some extremely costly repairs. Unfortunately, this worst case scenario event is a frequent outcome of a timing belt slip. A timing belt replacement in a vehicle that has sustained engine damage as a result of the break can cost more than the vehicle is worth.
If a timing belt break or slip occurs in a non-interference engine, the outcome is not as bad. The pistons and valves are spaced further apart in this type of engine, and damage to a piston as the result of the belt breaking will usually not cause the piston to interfere in any way with the function of the valves. However, piston damage is still significant to repair, and the more engine damage that occurs, then the more you will have to pay for parts and labor, in addition to the timing belt replacement job itself. Regardless of the type of engine, this costly repair is best avoided by replacing aged parts before they wear out.