Unlike getting an oil change or a [tire rotation](https://www.naylorsautorepairidaho.com/blog/everything-you-need-know-about-tire-rotation), a timing belt isn’t normally the first thing we think about when it comes to getting a routine auto repair. However, a timing belt is a critical car component that keeps your engine running smoothly. So what is it? And how often does it need to be replaced? Let’s talk about the importance of timing belts so that you can be certain that your car will get you where you need to go.
What Is a Timing Belt?
You can quickly recognize a timing belt because it looks like it has a set of teeth running along its entire length. A timing belt keeps the camshaft and crankshaft turning at the correct rate. The camshaft helps the engine to function by opening valves in time with the crankshaft. This timing is critical to ensure that the engine functions properly, and the timing belt makes all of this possible.
Depending on driving habits, such as frequent stop-and-go driving and heavy acceleration, a timing belt can wear out sooner than the recommended mileage for replacement. Extreme temperatures can also put additional stress on belts.
Most timing belts are difficult to see without taking apart the engine cover, so access to the belt will require many engine components. If you don’t have easy access to your belt, it’s best to leave the replacement to a professional mechanic.
What Happens When a Timing Belt Is Damaged?
Like any car parts, timing belts will wear out over time and, if neglected, cause further damage to your vehicle. In a worst-case scenario, the valves and rods can push through the engine cover, ruining the engine. And failing to get the auto repair your timing belt needs will create a much more costly trip to the auto shop. In lighter scenarios, your engine will just stop running.
The amount of damage to your vehicle will roughly depend on your engine type. Interference engines have more compression and more power, so you risk more damage with this system than a non-interference engine.
Faulty timing belt symptoms include:
• Engine vibration
• Loss of power
• Loss of fuel economy
Another symptom comes in the form of a clicking or squealing sound, which can be a signal that your timing belt is missing some of its teeth. If you begin experiencing any of these symptoms, a faulty timing belt may be the cause. A quick trip to an independent auto shop will help you get to the root of the problem.
How Often Should You Replace Your Timing Belt?
A timing belt should be routinely changed, just like the engine filter or other similar car parts. Now that technology has improved, timing belts don’t need to be changed as often as in previous decades, but you should still book an appointment to replace the belt between 60,000 and 100,000 miles. In the past, every 60,000 miles was a hard rule. But now, many vehicles can drive up to 100,000 miles before seeing the significant wear and tear these belts can experience.
It’s best to refer back to your owner’s manual to find out how often you should pay attention to your timing belt, and be sure to stick to what the guide states. Timing belts are fairly inexpensive, but if you neglect the timing belt for too long, you’ll be risking thousands of dollars worth of significant damage to your vehicle.
A timing belt is vital for your vehicle to function. Without a maintained timing belt, the camshaft and crankshaft can become mistimed, causing you to be stranded on the road in the best-case scenario and left with a damaged engine in the worst case. You can check with your owner’s manual to see how often your timing belt should be changed out, and be sure to visit your independent auto shop to have it replaced.
If you haven’t had your timing belt changed in a while, stop by Naylor’s to get the expert service your car deserves!