Car Care 2013 Tip 19: Prevent the Timing Belt Disaster

For a few decades now, a lot of imported car engines have been using timing belts instead of timing chains. Carmakers have decided to use these belts since they have realized a number of benefits from doing so. However, a lot of car experts have recently known that the biggest downside of using belts is the age limit of rubber. Due to normal wear, tear and stress from cold and heat causes the chemical make-up of the rubber to break down.

Unfortunately, not many people realize that replacing the timing belt should be part of regular maintenance. In fact, only few car owners know the appropriate mileage intervals of replacing a timing belt. Although the requirements may vary, the timing belt should be replaced after every 60,000 miles average.

But in order to be sure, you can check your car’s owner manual and look for the information that would tell you as to when the timing belt should be replaced. Although this task requires a portion of your time, this could still be considered important since this will save you from being stranded at the side of the road and avoid incurring additional expenses in the event that the car’s engine gets damaged due to your failure to change its timing belt.

Timing Belt

Potential Effects of Not Replacing Your Car’s Timing Belt on Time

1. Expensive engine damage

In many cases timing belt engines are interference motors. This means valves can hit the pistons if proper timing is not kept. Normally this is not a problem, but if the timing belt breaks, or jumps off the gears, valves on some cylinders will hit the pistons resulting in severe and expensive damage. Replacing your timing belt on time is much cheaper and easier than rebuilding or replacing your car’s engine.

2. Difficulty in looking for parts to repair the damaged engine due to faulty timing belt

Timing belt neglect is so prevalent that car manufacturers and aftermarket parts manufacturers do not bother to stock many engine components for timing belt engines past the 5-7 year requirement, because there will only be a few of these cars still functioning. Finding crankshafts, connecting rods, pistons or camshafts can be quite difficult because it is not economically feasible for manufacturers to keep producing these parts.

Is DIY timing belt replacement possible?

Unfortunately, replacing your car’s faulty timing belt might be difficult since this requires the use of specialized tools. Doing this becomes more difficult when your vehicle is equipped with a front-wheel drive transverse mounted engine. However, if you have a certain amount of mechanical know-how and the guidance of a manual, you can do the job by yourself. All you need to do is make a plan on how you would do this ahead and save yourself from a lot of headaches and spending a lot of time in doing the replacement.

Due to labor costs, it is more expensive to have the replacement done by a professional. However, doing so will surely be worth the cost.

Preventive Maintenance

Routine maintenance at regular intervals is the best way to keep your car running longer. Along with oil changes, timing belt replacement and regular maintenance your car can realistically give you two to three hundred thousand miles of trouble-free driving.

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