Timing Belt Replacement

Timing Belt

Timing_beltYour automobile engine has cylinders in which a piston travels up and down.  At the top of the cylinders are valves that open to bring in the air and fuel  And there are valves that open to let out the exhaust after the fuel has been burned.

It is critical that the valves be timed to open and close at precisely the right time in the combustion cycle, or the engine will run poorly or not at all.

The timing belt is responsible for rotating the shafts that control the valves.  It’s vital and precision work.  Timing belts are made of very tough flexible material.  They can last a long time. But they eventually wear out and can break.  The consequences can be disastrous.

In some engines, the valves actually protrude far enough into the cylinders that they could come in contact with the piston.  If the timing belt breaks, the pistons will smash into the valves.  Valves can get bent or broken. The broken parts will shred the cylinder head as well if the engine is spinning fast enough. Repairing this damage can cost several thousand dollars.

Manufacturers have issued recommendations for when you should replace your timing belt.  For some engines, it is at 60,000 miles.  For others, it is at 90,000 miles or more.  If you are approaching 60,000 miles or have passed it, make sure you check your owner’s manual or your HomeTown Auto Service rep for when the timing belt should to be replaced.

Some timing belts are visible and can be inspected.  Others are hidden under a protective cover and are hard to get to.  Some timing belts also drive the water pump.  If you have a leaking water pump, the coolant will contaminate the timing belt and could make it fail sooner.