ATL Austin Texas Auto Repair and Auto Maintenance

When Should the Timing Belt Be Replaced?


Timing Belt ReplacementIt happens to far too many drivers—they're driving down the road minding their own business when something snaps inside the car, the vehicle stalls and won't restart. In many cases, it's because they put off timing belt replacement for too long. After having the car towed to an auto repair shop to have the engine damage repaired, they've spent thousands of dollars fixing a problem that could've cost a fraction of that amount to prevent if they'd only planned ahead.

If you drive the car long enough, the timing belt will have to be replaced—but you'd be surprised at how many people don't realize this. The timing belt is a small, simple piece that serves a vital purpose in your car's engine—a toothed belt connecting the crankshaft with the camshaft, which controls the opening and closing of the valves. As soon as the belt breaks, the valves stop closing in time, and the pistons begin making contact with them, causing immediate damage to the engine. Replacing the belt before it breaks ensures this doesn't happen.

When should the timing belt be replaced?

Most manufacturers recommend replacing the timing belt between 70,000-110,000 miles. If you're following a 30-60-90k maintenance schedule (as you should), your auto servicing specialist will probably recommend replacing the belt during your 90,000-mile maintenance visit. If your vehicle uses a timing chain instead of a belt, the chain should last the lifetime of the engine. If there are any warning signs that the belt or chain should be replaced sooner, your mechanic will let you know.

Symptoms of a failing timing belt

We can't emphasize this enough: the timing belt can fail without any prior warning. (This is why you should have it replaced within the recommended mileage window.) However, sometimes the vehicle will begin telling you in advance when there is a problem with the belt. If you experience any of these problems with your car (even if you don't think you've reached the mileage limit), take the car to an auto repair specialist as soon as you can:

  • Smoky exhaust. Thick, smoky exhaust is a sign that the valves may not be opening and closing in time, often due to a worn timing belt.
  • Vibrating or shaking. Sometimes missing teeth in the belt can affect the engine timing, causing an odd vibration or shaking when the motor is running.
  • Engine leaks and/or runs hot. While these aren't direct symptoms of a bad timing belt, a leaky, overheating engine can weaken the timing belt and shorten its life expectancy.
  • Car struggles to start. This can also be a symptom that the timing is off.
  • Engine fails and won't restart. This probably means you're too late—the timing belt is broken. (HINT: Don't let it get to this point.)

For quality, trustworthy auto care, repairs and maintenance in Austin, All Tune and Lube is an AAA-approved shop employing only ASE-certified mechanics. They'll quote a fair price on auto services and even offer online coupons for additional savings. If you have any questions about your timing belt or other auto care needs, they can be reached for a free quote at (512) 836-6724.

All Tune And Lube Austin Blog

Written and Published By MORBiZ


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