Timing Belt Replacement
The timing belt is such a critical part of your vehicle that your engine actually can’t function without it. Thankfully, this crucial component doesn’t need much in the way of regular maintenance – but it does need to be replaced on time. (No pun intended!)
Worn out timing belts will eventually break, bringing your vehicle to a standstill – and damaging your engine in the process. Here are some key things to know about timing belts and when to get them replaced:
- How does the timing belt work?
- Are timing belts and serpentine belts the same thing?
- What happens if my timing belt breaks?
- When is the right time to replace my timing belt and why are OEM change intervals so important?
- What are some signs of a bad timing belt?
How does the timing belt work?
The timing belt works by synchronizing the movement of 2 specific engine components: the camshaft and the crankshaft. Each shaft looks like a rod with a cogwheel at its ends. And each cogwheel has grooves that connect with “teeth” along the timing belt’s surface.
Here’s how all these parts work together. As the camshaft rotates, it causes the engine’s valves to open and close. Without this action, air and fuel wouldn’t make it into the engine for combustion; and exhaust fumes wouldn’t make it out. Each of the camshaft’s rotations is triggered by the crankshaft, which is attached to pistons that push down on the camshaft to help it move. The timing belt is what connects the two shafts and keeps them working in perfect harmony.
Are timing belts and serpentine belts the same thing?
Timing belts are not the same thing as serpentine belts, though they do have some things in common. Both belts are made of rubber and need to be replaced at manufacturer-recommended intervals. They both help to connect multiple components that work in unison. And both belts play a critical role in engine performance.
But while the timing belt connects only the cam- and crankshafts, the serpentine belt connects many more parts. This includes the water pump, the alternator, and the A/C compressor, to name a few. Together, these parts are referred to as engine accessories, which is why serpentine belts are also called accessory belts.
What happens if my timing belt breaks?
A vehicle’s engine can’t operate without a properly functioning timing belt. So if the timing belt breaks, the engine won’t start, and your vehicle will become non-functional. If the timing belt breaks while you’re in motion, the engine will stop right then and there, and your vehicle will come to a standstill.
In both scenarios, you end up with a vehicle that can’t take you anywhere. But what’s worse, the snapped timing belt might also have caused a ton of damage to your engine. Without a working timing belt, the camshaft will stop turning. This means the engine valves won’t open when they should. And the engine’s pistons will start banging against the closed valves. This causes simultaneous damage to multiple parts of the engine. And the cost to repair or replace each piece can quickly add up.
When is the right time to replace my timing belt and why are OEM change intervals so important?
There’s no way to predict when your timing belt will break – which can be scary to think about. But it’s also why OEM change intervals are so important. These are the intervals specified by your original equipment manufacturer (OEM) for replacing your timing belt. These guidelines will be based on the unique needs of your vehicle and can be found in your owner’s manual.
We understand that, as a vehicle owner, you might be tempted to delay routine services like a timing belt replacement. But at Sullivan Automotive, we strongly advice our customers against this. The impacts of a broken timing belt can be abrupt and disastrous. That’s why our technicians are trained to follow OEM guidelines with the utmost attention to detail. This helps to minimize unnecessary risks. It keeps you safe. And it prolongs the life of both your engine and your vehicle.
What are some signs of a bad timing belt?
Bad timing belts usually have no warning signs. This brings us back to the importance of getting them replaced at manufacturer-recommended intervals.
In the rare instances where a bad timing belt does show outward signs of trouble, it might look something like this:
- clicking noises coming from the engine
- excessive exhaust smoke
- your vehicle jerking forward as a result of the engine misfiring
- oil leaks or leaks from the water pump or timing tensioner
- your engine not cranking up sufficiently to let you drive, even though you can hear it trying to start when you turn on the ignition
At your service
Don’t trust your vehicle’s timing belt with just anyone. At Sullivan Automotive, we’re dedicated to your safety. And we work hard to keep our rates reasonable without ever compromising on quality or service.
If you have questions about your timing belt or need to get it replaced, do reachout to us.