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When Does the Timing Belt Should be Replaced

Update:10-12-2016
Summary:

A timing belt runs the engine camshaft (or camshafts in […]

A timing belt runs the engine camshaft (or camshafts in a dual-cam engine). It’s called timing belt because its main job is to precisely time valve opening and closing with up-and-down movement of the pistons. Timing belt replacement is one of the high-price maintenance items that many motorists have to deal with.We all know that a timing belt in a car engine needs to be replaced at recommended service intervals, but what about the timing chain? What is the difference between a timing belt and a chain? A timing belt is a toothed belt made of high-quality rubber; it runs outside of the engine, covered by a protective cover.

Timing belt recommended replacement intervals vary from 60,000 to 106,000 miles. You can find the recommended interval in your car’s maintenance schedule. We posted several links where you can check the maintenance schedule online in this post. Can a timing belt last past the recommended interval? Yes, in some cases. We came across a number of high-mileage cars with a timing belt that has never been changed.

On the other hand, there are many cases when a timing belt breaks at a lower mileage than the recommended interval. Usually, premature timing belt failure is caused by faulty belt hardware (tensioner and idlers), leaking water pumps, improper tension and when a timing belt is soaked in engine oil. How can you tell if the belt is in good shape or needs to be replaced as soon as possible? Can a timing belt condition be inspected? The answer is yes: Usually a timing belt is covered by plastic or metal covers.

A timing chain is made of metal, similar to a bicycle chain. A timing chain runs inside the engine, as it needs to be lubricated by the engine oil. A timing belt typically needs to be replaced between 40,000 and 100,000 miles depending on the vehicle and it’s a few hundred dollar repair. A timing chain doesn’t need to be replaced unless there is a problem with it.

Is the timing chain immune to mechanical failures? The simple answer is No, it is not. The timing chain problems are not uncommon, especially in high-mileage vehicles. Similarly to any other moving mechanical components inside any engine, a timing chain is subject to wear. A timing chain is lubricated by the engine oil. Lack of oil changes, low oil level or poor oil quality can cause the timing chain to wear faster. A timing chain is kept under proper tension by a chain tensioner. A chain tensioner could be operated by a spring-loaded mechanism or oil pressure. Chain guides and silencers are used to keep the Timing Belt China chain from vibrating. All these components wear too. How do you know if the timing chain is worn? Often, if the timing chain is worn the engine may feel sluggish, low on power or have troubles starting.