when timing belt replacementA vehicle’s timing belt is just as important for a vehicle to keep the engine running smoothly and efficiently without causing damage, as it was with the original timing chain system due to the amount of overlap in the engine and such tight clearances and within fractions of seconds of moving components within there needs to be a way to control perfectly harmonized motions. As well as providing an economical and serviceable solution to the modern day vehicle for the convenience of today’s car consumer. When timing belt replacement? It all depends on your car, the amount you drive, and general wear and tear. 

When Timing Belt Should Be Replaced?

Both systems maintain harmony between the engine’s crankshaft and camshaft for the opening and closing of the valves as well as the pistons position changes. With vehicles that have valve lash’s that are set during assembly or can be adjusted regularly on how early or late that the rocker arm contacts the valve by adjusting the gap in between the rocker arm and valve. This causes a delayed duration as well as a gap for lubrication to get through and cause less frictional wear on both components. We are able to Harmonize specifically when the camshaft opens them for a certain duration and then closes, this is all controlled by the camshaft lobes on each valve as well as the lash in between the rocker arms and the valve. With being able to create a stationary harmonization on these parts as they move within each position in a rotational change in motion and along the way having no additional parts to maintain it we still need a way to keep these components moving within the same timing as the pistons.

Understanding Your Vehicles Engine

Just like the engine camshaft and the valves having a set lift the piston’s maintain a set stroke with the use of the rod journals on the crankshaft. This allows it to rise all the way up within fractions of an inch away from contacting the cylinder head as well as the bottom of the valves that are inset into the cylinder head and then down far enough to fill the combustion chamber with enough air to compress and balance the ratio inside with fuel needed to run the engine and cause internal combustion. Again with this engineering we can have another rotating assembly that is able to create its own harmonization without the need of additional components. However now we are talking about two different assemblies that are capable of their own harmonization that we need to work together in perfect unisince to allow them to do their portion of creating internal combustion without overlapping and contacting each other with such force that would cause irreparable damage to each other.

When Timing Belt Replacement – Preventing Catastrophe

The original solution to this was two different Gears and Ratios and a chain tying the camshaft to the crankshaft in order to run it and keep everything timed and everything moving off of force caused by internal combustion. Back Then There was a lot less that was inside a vehicle’s engine bay, giving a lot of room for pulleys that were run off of a belt and the crankshaft to either spin the water pump for cooling the engine, an alternator for keeping it running and lots of other accessories. After years passed manufacturers needed more space in the engine compartment for other components as well as less weight, less mechanical wear and failure, and less overhead and more profits. The original timing chain systems were heavy due to the weight of the gears, chains, and pushrods as well as caused more engine noise and in turn a lot of wear on the timing components whether it was gear wear and stretched and worn chains.

Manufacturer Timing Belt Replacement Requirements

What did this mean to a manufacturer, the first problem would be in the manufacturing of the vehicle and the overhead cost of materials and labor. Steel, Iron and other metals were very expensive to purchase in the amounts to create these components that were needed as well as very time consuming for labor to create them. The other reason is weight, and you might think well it’s a car they can weigh up to a couple of tons no matter what’s in it, however this not only becomes a cost in materials but also scrutiny from the government as well as from the consumer. The government in the past has created bills and laws that require manufacturers to be under a certain threshold of pollutants from the byproducts of vehicles, more weight causes a higher power loss which in turn causes a higher fuel consumption and higher pollutants. With the strong arm of the government the manufacturers are having to cut down any excess weight they can in order to improve power and fuel economy which means going from heavy metal chains and gears, and pushrods to a lighter aluminum sprocket and belt with an overhead cam that also means cheaper parts and less overhead a two in one in the manufacturer’s eyes.

Manufacturer Timing Belt Replacement

Was this enough reasoning for the manufacturers to make a change or was there also another agenda as to why they made this leap instead of focusing on other less detrimental components of the vehicle. Their main focus and main problem was their customers and they would be under constant scrutiny from as well as everyone else that were not their customers. Mostly everyone has an opinion on why they will only buy from certain manufactures whether its reliability, fuel economy, power, comfortability, or a mixture. The original timing chains were a lot louder as well as a lot more problematic they would wear and stretch the chain or wear the gears, both problems caused for a lot less slack or the ability to jump teeth and out of position which are both equally bad. Since back then nothing was computerized or had sensors and no regular servicing of it besides changing the oil and filter on timer the consumer had no idea. Until there was even a problem with the vehicle either not starting, excessive noise from an engine that was already noisy, or catastrophic damage causing smoking, knocking, a sudden explosion internally and no power or noise of the vehicle running and leaving them stranded.

Are Timing Belts Necessary to Replace?

With all these problems to the consumers the manufacturers did not want to get branded as being unreliable, underperforming power, excessive fuel consumption causing even more money in the customers eye. They made the leap and we started seeing more and more timing belts on cars so as a consumer, “ Awesome my engine is quieter and seeing better fuel economy and power which means less money and more fun”. But this causes another cost that is typically ignored or just unknown to a consumer which is the maintenance of a timing belt that a manufacturer now has given to the vehicle and that is regular mileage and aged based replacement of the belt, pulleys and tensioners and even the water belt. “But it is a belt just like what drives my alternator in the past. It’s just another snake oil scam out to get my money. I will replace it when it breaks just like my other one” I wish that was honest and true it would cause a less traumatic event for a customer as well as a less costly one. 

The Importance of the Vehicle Timing Belt

The engine’s timing belt has a service interval based on mileage and age because it is still rubber and can still crack, fray, and even break causing catastrophic damage to the engine because at this point the camshaft and crankshaft are no longer synchronized and their components can then impact each other causing damage usually resulting in heavy rebuilding or an entire replacement engine if it is an interference engine. With the age of the rubber belt it can start to deteriorate and flake apart or even crack and become brittle with age or the constant fluctuation in temperature from its heating and cooling. The belt can also become swollen and deteriorate due to contamination with oil based compounds which is why it is important if the water pump is leaking replacing the pump or the oil seals if they are leaking and the belt that has become contaminated it needs to all be replaced as well. We also now have a tensioner that can also wear and lose pressure from worn rubber seals or worn internal components that now allows more movement in the belt that then results in jumped timing, or even the belt is able to move and contact other components and wear that causes the same damage. In addition we now have idler, tensioner and water pump pulleys that now have bearings that overtime can become worn causing either extra movement in the belt, or seizing causing a lot of heat and friction that can damage the belt so skimping out on the replacement of some or all of these components can be costly and when replacing this maintenance item is is best practice to replace all the components and seals.

Modern Timing Belt Replacement Cost

With the new components of a timing belt system we can still see some wear issues that are similar to a timing chain, and problems that plague both systems however we still see more benefits in using it. The weight reduction gives us better power and fuel economy and is cheaper for the manufacturer but this also means it is cheaper for the customer to replace as well. The cost differs between repair shops and the economical status of the country but we are still cheaper in parts and labor of servicing it at the correct intervals and replacing all the components in the system. The next highest expense would be the replacement of timing chains, gears, guides and tensioners, still cheaper than replacing or rebuilding an entire engine as well as cheaper than purchasing a new car. 

Like everything else in the world there are always pros and cons of a timing belt however as long as you are aware of them you can make the choice of purchasing a vehicle that has one. When timing belt replacement costs are worrisome, call our office. If you already own a car with a timing belt and have taken the time to learn more about them or skimmed over the information that you are wanting to know you are one step ahead of being able to properly maintain your vehicle and create less expensive costs and headaches. Remember maintenance is always a lot cheaper and easier than replacing, so becoming familiar with the maintenance schedule specific to your vehicle is very important whether that is following your owners manual or speaking with your specialized repair facility to follow your personalized vehicle maintenance schedule.

When Its Time to Replace the Timing Belt

The timing belt is a critical component of many internal combustion engines, and its replacement interval varies depending on the make and model of your vehicle. Typically, it’s recommended to replace the timing belt at specific mileage or time intervals, whichever comes first. Here are some general guidelines:

  1. Mileage: The most common recommendation is to replace the timing belt every 60,000 to 100,000 miles (or approximately 96,000 to 160,000 kilometers). However, the specific mileage interval can vary widely between different vehicle manufacturers and models. Refer to your vehicle’s owner’s manual or maintenance schedule for the manufacturer’s recommended replacement mileage.
  2. Time: In addition to mileage, the timing belt should also be replaced at a certain time interval, typically every 5 to 7 years, even if the mileage hasn’t been reached. This is because timing belts can deteriorate over time due to exposure to heat, humidity, and other environmental factors.
  3. Visual Inspection: It’s a good practice to have the timing belt inspected visually whenever you perform routine maintenance on your vehicle. Look for signs of wear, cracks, or damage on the belt. If you notice any issues, it’s best to replace the timing belt, regardless of mileage or time.
  4. Severe Conditions: If you frequently drive in extreme conditions, such as very hot or very cold climates, or if you frequently tow heavy loads, you may need to replace the timing belt more frequently. Check your owner’s manual or consult with a mechanic for specific recommendations.
  5. Interference Engines: Some engines are designed as interference engines, which means that if the timing belt fails, the pistons and valves can collide, causing significant engine damage. In such cases, it’s especially important to adhere to the manufacturer’s recommended timing belt replacement interval.

Failure to replace the timing belt as recommended can result in catastrophic engine damage, so it’s a crucial maintenance task. The cost of replacing a timing belt is relatively small compared to the cost of repairing or replacing an engine damaged by a broken belt.

Always consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual or contact our Bountiful repair shop for the specific timing belt replacement interval for your make and model of car.