Engine Maintenance

Signs It's Time to Change a Timing Belt


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When it is time to change your timing belt you will probably notice your car displaying rather erratic symptoms during driving. You should make a timing belt inspection a part of your regular engine maintenance. Visually look over the belt at regular intervals and look for signs of wear and tear. If your car has been behaving oddly during journeys recently it may be that your timing belt is requiring a change.

1 – Revs Behaving Badly

If you have noticed that when you drive and you get up to somewhere between 2000 and 4000 RPM and your engine start acting strange you should check the timing belt. If it has become loose it will start to slip as the RPM’s get higher during acceleration. Also, this could be a sign that there are some teeth missing.

2 – Toothless Wonder

Older timing belts will wear down and lose teeth over the course of their lifetime. While it is usually recommended to change your timing belt at least every 60,000 miles, some vehicles differ and the range can be as high as 110,000 miles. Always refer back the manual for your car for advice about the mileage.

3 – Starting and Running Issues

The timing belt is actually a very finely tuned piece of equipment on your car. It must maintain complete alignment at the same it turn the crankshaft exactly two revolutions for every one revolution of the cam shaft. The exhaust valves and intakes are caused to close and open by the revolution of the cam shaft. The valve has to be able to close and open at the exact right moment when related to the movement of the pistons. Therefore, if that timing is off, everything else will be off kilter. This can also cause starting problems because the timing of all the individual components that cause the car to start will all be disrupted.

4 – Exhaust Problems

If your exhaust has been expelling far more smoke than you are used to it could be related to a timing belt issue. It will cause the engine to struggle as it tries to compete with its own components and attempt to run properly under duress. This will result in far more exhaust being spewed out the other end.

5 – Prevention is Better Than Cure

Obviously regular checks to your timing belt are essential to make sure it stays healthy to the point where it is time to change it without having to change it. Timing belt replacement is better than timing belt repair. It is probably not a good idea to try to repair a timing belt unless it is a simple short-term belt to get you home. If in fact your belt does break, the collateral damage that your engine suffers will depend on the type of engine it is. Non-interference engines are probably the better ones to have under these circumstances because they can ‘free-wheel’ if the belt snaps during a journey. In this instance your engine won’t suffer nearly as much damage as an interference engine. In the unfortunate event that the timing belt breaks on an interference engine because the pistons will shunt through the valves and pretty much blow the engine.

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