When Should I Change My Timing Belt?

Your vehicle’s timing belt is one of the most important, but commonly ignored engine part that needs routine replacement. Timing belts were adopted by car manufacturers in the 1950’s/’60’s as a way to make a lighter, less costly engine that got better gas mileage than their chain-driven counterparts. They really came into their own in the 1970’s and ’80’s with the gas shortages and subsequent demand for more fuel efficient engines.

What Does It Do?

The timings belt’s role in an engine’s operation is critical, as it makes certain the camshaft(s) and crankshaft are in sync., and that each cylinder fires at the right time. If the cycle of opening and closing intake and exhaust valve is even the slightest bit off, your car’ performance and economy will suffer.

Pre-Replacement

Before starting the process of timing belt replacement, first look up your make’s engine specifications to see whether your vehicle has a belt at all; many older classics and cars with larger displacement engines typically have chains.

Some timing chains can last the life of the car, but all timing belts have a certain built-in mileage recommendation as to when they should be replaced. Other than some minor ticking noises and loss of power, there is usually no way to tell if a belt is about to break, unless of course you can take the timing cover off and visually inspect the belt for cracks or excessive wear. This is nothing like a timing chain, which will put up quite a clatter before it snaps!

What To Do And Why

The wisest course of action with timing belts is to closely follow what your vehicle manufacturer recommends, and just to be safe, subtract about 10K from that figure. If you have, or are considering buying a used vehicle with mileage over 60K, plan on replacing the belt immediately. Also if you have any work done to your car that requires the belt’s removal, such as water pump replacement, that’s a good time to replace it as well.

Depending on the actual value of your vehicle and what type of engine it has, a timing belt break could either be a routine repair, or a catastrophic, car-totaling event. If you happen to have what is known as an interference engine, when the belt breaks it usually results in a super expensive repair bill, as pistons will smash into open valves and damage anything in their path. Non-interference engines just stop abruptly after a belt break, and generally don’t incur much, if any head damage. Knowing what kind of engine your new or used vehicle has before buying could save you a bunch of money down the road!

Final Thoughts

If you are considering the purchase of a new or used Acura in the Washington. D.C. metro area, look no further than Pohanka Acura. With almost 100 years of sales and service tradition, they can definitely provide you with a full data sheet on the particular car you’re interested in, so you won’t be caught blind-sided by an unexpected engine repair, like timing belt replacement!

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