Do I Need to Replace My Timing Belt?


Updated February 17th, 2017

Sterling, Virginia - The timing belt is an important part of your vehicle’s engine.  A Timing belt control several moving parts that allow your engine to take in fuel and expel exhaust.  Made from rubber and fiberglass a modern timing belt can last up to 100,000 miles.  If your timing belt fails your engine will stop working.  Avoid a break down and learn more about your timing belt and how to tell when it needs to be replaced.


What Does a Timing Belt Do?

To understand what a timing belt does you first have to understand the camshaft and crankshaft components of your engine.


The Crankshaft: The crankshaft controls the movement of your engine’s pistons.  The crankshaft moves them up for compression and exhaust and down for intake and power cycles.

The Camshaft: The camshaft controls valves that open and close for the intake and exhaust cycles.  The valves open to allow fuel to enter the chamber and then close to allow for compression.


The timing belt ensures that the camshaft and the crankshaft run through their cycles in sync.  If the timing belt isn’t functioning correctly, fuel could escape through the exhaust or not enter the cylinder at all.


When do you Replace a Timing Belt?

Rubber timing belts used to be made from chains.  When timing belts used to be timing chains, they would let you know when you needed to replace them.  The chains would get looser and make a very distinctive and loud noise. Rubber belts have no audible warning that they are about to fail.  Signs you need to replace your timing belt include:

  • loss of fuel economy

  • engine vibrations.  

In addition, you should consider replacing your timing belt if you are having any work done that requires your remove the belt.  If your timing belt breaks before you can replace it the consequences can range from a quick fix to a destroyed engine.  

So my Timing Belt Broke, Now What?

The damage your engine suffers when your timing belt breaks depends on the type of engine in your car.  Best case scenario, you have a non-interference engine.  When the timing belt in a non-interference engine breaks the camshaft and crankshaft are no longer connected.  Your engine will stop running with no additional damage.  If you have an interference engine, a broken timing belt will not break the connection between the camshaft and the crankshaft.  The two will run out of sync, causing valves and pistons to forcefully crash into each other.  It can be so severe your engine cover is punctured by force, ruining your engine.


The Importance of Preventive Maintenance

If your car is reaching the 100,000-mile mark, regular preventative maintenance can protect your engine from potentially catastrophic problems.  At Hogan & Sons Tire and Auto, we understand the cost of vehicle maintenance and repair.  Don't wait until your engine is damaged beyond repair, Hogan & Sons can provide recommendations for future service that will ultimately save you time and money.  A proactive mindset can help you avoid future problems and ensure your vehicle is operating in a way that’ll keep you and your fellow passengers safe.  


*Always check your owner’s manual for your vehicle model’s specific instructions before attempting any type of repair.

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