What Is a Timing Belt and When Should It Be Replaced?

In more recently manufactured vehicles, the timing belt is a rubber belt that synchronizes the actions of the camshaft and crankshaft to keep your valves safely moving and your engine running. In older vehicles, the timing belt may actually be a chain. Regardless, the purpose is the same, and it is important to the functioning of your vehicle.

The Function of a Timing Belt

The camshaft operates the valves in your engine to let in and out air and gas. The crankshaft moves the pistons up and down. These two systems have to operate in exact synchronization or damage could occur to the valves, pistons, engine or other nearby parts. It is the job of the timing belt to ensure this synchronization occurs by keeping each system turning at the correct rate.

Replacing a Timing Belt

Newer cars can usually go 100,000 miles before the timing belt needs replacement. Older vehicles may need it replaced at 60,000. It is important to note that if the water pump goes bad, the timing belt will usually need to also be replaced. This is because most often the belt has to be removed to replace the water pump.  

Signs a Timing Belt Needs Replacement

If a timing belt is worn out it may begin to slip and severe misfires will occur. Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut sign that a timing belt is going bad. Usually, when timing belts fail, it is not a gradual decline, instead, it is a sudden occurrence. Once a failure occurs the engine will immediately stop or lose significant power. If your vehicle has a chain instead, though, it may make a lot of noise if it is loose, and if it breaks you will often hear the crack.

To prevent the unfortunate event of the belt slipping, replace the belt as recommended based on your vehicle manufacture’s guidelines.

Belts and hoses are vital to keeping your vehicle in top shape. If you’re not sure your timing belt is worn or want to get an idea of how often you should replace the belt, stop into any of our Sun Auto Service locations today. Our friendly and knowledgeable staff will help educate you on the best time to replace your timing belt as recommended by your vehicle manufacturer.