Prevent Huge Repair Bills by Replacing Your Timing Belt

September 15, 2011

The timing belt is one of the most important but often neglected parts of a car.

For cars with an “interference engine”, meaning the pistons will crash into the valves should the belt snap, it is important that the timing belt be changed according to manufacturers recommendations.

Though dealers and service centers will recommend changing the timing belt every 60K miles for obvious reasons, most car manufacturers recommend every 80K to 100K miles.

The cost of replacing a timing belt can range from 200 to 600 dollars depending on the type of car and whether you go to a dealer or an independent shop. I admit this isn’t cheap but it does give you peace of mind. Try putting a price tag on that.

If your car uses a timing chain rather than a belt then you are golden. The chain usually lasts the life of the car. Why don’t all car manufacturers use timing chains? I have yet to know the answer.

If your car has a non interference engine then you are almost as lucky as the guy with the timing chain. These engines do not get damaged by a broken timing belt because of the way they’re designed. But this doesn’t mean you should wait until the belt snaps. There is usually no warning signs or symptoms and when the belt wants to let loose it will.

In addition to changing the belt, most shops will recommend changing out the water pump. The timing belt and water pump are located close to each other so it makes sense to replace them at the same time.

So what are the symptoms of a worn timing belt? It really doesn’t have any symptoms. You can take off the belt cover and visually inspect the belt for any wear and tear. But just because a belt looks healthy doesn’t mean it is.

Don’t get stuck with a three thousand dollar repair bill because you wanted to save three hundred. Do yourself a favor and call your mechanic.

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