The timing belt is an important component of your vehicle. It’s meant to keep the moving parts of the engine in perfect sync for a smooth drive. It is a rubber belt with teeth, or in older vehicles, it may be a chain that connects the camshaft and the crankshaft to open and close the valves at the right time for smooth driving. It is important to have your mechanic track the state of your timing belt to ensure it isn’t worn or broken because a snapped timing belt can be dangerous to your engine. Many cars older than 1960, as well as some of the newest vehicles, have a timing chain instead of a timing belt. A timing chain works the same as a timing belt, but because they’re made of metal, they can last longer than rubber timing belts.
The best place to start to answer this question is to check your owner’s manual. Each vehicle manufacturer sets a different standard for their vehicles and at what mileage components should be changed. For most contemporary vehicles, you’ll change your timing belt every 100,000 miles or so. For older cars, the timing belt should be changed every 60,000 miles.
As a timing belt ages and is subjected to the temperature extremes inside your engine compartment, the belt can stretch and begin to slip on the crankshaft and camshaft. This may lead to diminished engine power or other issues as the precise synchronization of the valves will be thrown off. As mentioned previously, it is important to regularly check the state of your timing belt to prevent damage to your engine. Timing belts rarely give warning before failure, and failure often results in a stoppage of the engine or a significant reduction in power coming from the engine. A snapped timing belt can cause broken or bent valves, cylinder head or camshaft damage, or other significant damage to your engine. It’s critical to take your vehicle in at the correct mileage and for regular maintenance to avoid the need for timing belt repair.
If your vehicle is approaching the mileage where the manufacturer recommends changing the timing belt, your best bet is to call Cooper’s Auto Repair and Services in Tacoma, WA, and make an appointment to have their qualified technician give your vehicle’s belts and hoses a once over to ensure your vehicle is safe and stays on the road.