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When is it time to change your timing belt?

timing belt

If you are planning a long journey it is a good idea to check you will not go over the advised mileage before getting your timing belt changed, it’s better to get it done before you go.

Most cars have a need to change their timing belt between 60,000-120,000 miles, the exact figure will be in your car’s service manual.

It's a little expensive to change the timing belt. Not because the timing belt itself is expensive, but because it can be difficult and time consuming to change.

Often the water pump is replaced at the same time as the timing belt, just because it's hard to get to. With more time consuming jobs there are certainly savings to be made by shopping around.

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What does the timing belt do and what is a cam belt?

The timing belt controls one of the engines main functions, namely the interaction between the pistons and valves. If they are out of sync, it can have disastrous consequences, in addition to an irregular and wasteful operation.

The timing belt is a transmission belt operated by the crank shaft and also operates the cam shaft. It ensures that the valves and pistons in the engine are in line. Technically, what happens is that the intake valve opens and the piston draws air into the chamber. Then the valve closes and the piston depresses.

The fuel containing compressed air ignite and explode. It pushes the piston and drives the process in the other chambers. When the piston is fully open, it is pulled back again, while the exhaust valve is open. Then the process starts all over again.

The valves must be open at the intake and exhaust, and the pistons must have exactly the right position when the fuel-containing air ignites. Therefore, the timing belt consists of teeth that fit with the wheels that pull and are pulled by the timing belt.

A cam belt also operates the same processes, but here it is not as important whether the process is precise.

The cam belt is a belt and usually has (slightly) sloping sides. The cam belt wedges into the pulley groove, to get a firm hold. They do the same job, but operate ever so slightly differently, that’s why people sometimes say they are the “same thing”.

At Autobutler you get 3 quotes for a timing belt change, and can compare the garages both on price but also on other car owners reviews. You can even select your usual garage for a quote. We assist you in clear and simple way, to find the best garage for your budget.

What happens if the timing belt is not replaced?

There is some wear on the timing belt, so in the service manual says when it needs to be changed in relation to the mileage. If you do not drive very much, there is also a risk that the timing belt becomes weathered and damaged.

The timing belt consists of steel wire, fiberglass, polyester and Kevlar cables. If you do not change the timing belt, you risk that it frays, and bits swirl around in the engine compartment and out onto the road. Here it may contribute to cause Flash Rust.

The most dangerous thing that can happen is if it becomes so worn or defective that it no longer synchronizes pistons and valves. Some engines have plenty of space, while others are built so that there is no room if the pistons and valves are positioned wrong. The piston simply hits the valves if they are open when the piston is depressed. If that happens, it could mean that you need a new engine.

Ratings of timing belt and cam belt replacements

although the work took longer than expected the quality was excellent
Rosemary H.
Nissan Qashqai (2009)
Was easy to locate. The job was swift and well done.
Swithin N.
BMW X3 (2012)
They’ve replaced my breaks(disks and pads) and the front tires, at a reasonable price. I’ll use t...
R S.
Kia Ceed (2009)

When you buy a used car

It's almost up to the seller which warranty there is on the car when sold second hand. Most have a 3 month warranty, but it is not always on all parts of the car. You should make sure when the timing belt was last changed, and if it cannot be disclosed, you should get it written into the contract as part of the warranty.

Good advice when buying a used car:

  • Check in the service booklet that the timing belt is changed according to the requirements
  • Contact the garage which performed the job, and check that it went as planned
  • If in doubt, you should have it checked over at a garage

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