Timing Belt Replacement
If you're vehicle has more than 70,000 miles on it, there's a hidden danger you should know about. It's a fairly small part that's wearing out, and if it breaks before you replace it, it could destroy your engine. We're talking about the timing belt.
It's a sad but common tale: someone's driving down the road, and the belt snaps. The car stalls and won't restart. A tow truck hauls the car to the auto repair shop, and the driver discovers it will cost $2000 or more to rebuild the engine. It's common because it happens to a lot of people; it's sad because it's so preventable.
What does the timing belt do?
It's a small, toothed belt that connects the camshaft to the crankshaft, regulating the timing of the valves. It's durable and takes a lot of abuse, but it won't last forever. If it breaks, the pistons immediately begin slapping against the open valves, damaging the engine and racking up huge repair costs.
When should the belt be replaced?
Replacing the timing belt is part of regular auto maintenance, and should be performed between 70,000-110,000 miles. The cost to replace the belt depends on the type of car you're driving, but the average rate is a few hundred dollars. However, as we've already pointed out, the cost of letting it break can run in the thousands.
Signs the timing belt may be failing
The timing belt can fail without any prior symptoms, so if you're within the mileage window, you should go ahead and have it replaced regardless. That being said, sometimes your car will give you a bit of warning that the belt is wearing out. You should take the car to a qualified auto repair shop if you experience any of the following:
- Difficulty starting the car. This can occur for a number of reasons, but often it's because the ignition timing is off.
- Visible exhaust. If your car starts pouring out thick smoke from the tailpipe, the fuel isn't burning properly – possibly due to the valves not opening or closing in time.
- Odd vibrations with the engine. When the timing belt is stretched or is missing teeth, it can throw off the engine's natural rhythm, causing the vehicle to vibrate or shake.
- Leaky, hot-running engine. These are not direct symptoms of a bad timing belt, but if the car runs hotter than it should or is leaking fluids, it can cause undue wear on the belt and possibly cause it to fail prematurely.
Don't be one of the thousands who have to have their engines rebuilt over one small part. Replace the timing belt in time, and save yourself thousands in auto repair costs. In Mountain View and Palo Alto, The Car Doctor combines expert auto repair with stellar customer service at affordable rates, with online special offers that can save you even more. For a free quote on timing belt replacement and other repairs or maintenance, they can be reached at (650) 492-6853 .
The Car Doctor Blog
Written and Published By MORBiZ
Experienced Mechanic in Palo Alto, CA
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