The timing belt is one of the most important parts of your car, but if you’re like most car owners, you probably haven’t given it a second thought, unless something is starting to go wrong. Depending on the issue with your timing belt, the damage could be a minor headache or a major wallet-buster. What is a timing belt, and what purpose does it serve in your vehicle?
What Is a Timing Belt?
Your vehicle’s timing belt is in charge of controlling all camshafts in the engine and opening and closing valves at the perfect intervals for a smooth driving experience. The timing belt is covered in teeth that turn the camshafts in unison with the crankshaft. Most cars on the road today have timing belts, but some older cars still have timing chains. Timing chains serve the same purpose as belts, but they do not need to be replaced in theory, and they are typically heavier and sturdier than timing belts.
How Often Do Timing Belts Need to Be Changed?
As with most repairs, you should start by checking the owner’s manual for your vehicle. Typically, the manual will give you a baseline for how often the timing belt will need to be replaced. In general, most will suggest a change between 60,000 and 100,000 miles. You should also know that, in some cases, replacing one part of the car like the water pump can mean needing to replace the timing belt as well. However, if you start to hear a shrieking sound coming out from under the front hood of the car, it might be time to replace it sooner rather than later. There are many other signs that indicate you need to change your timing belt soon, including:
- Ticking, clicking or shrieking sounds coming from the engine or front hood
- An engine that is misfiring or running improperly
- An engine that won’t start
- Squealing sounds that occur at random times when running your car, including accelerating, decelerating, braking or idling
Why Is Prompt Replacement Important?
If the timing belt in your car snaps and you have an interference-style engine, the cam belt will not be there to stop all of the pistons and valves from colliding at high speed. If the belt is gone, those parts can be smashed and cause irreparable damage to the engine. If your vehicle has a non-interference engine, the valves and pistons are not in danger of making contact if the belt breaks. However, you could still be stuck with a car that won’t turn on if your belt snaps.
Keep Your Automobile in Great Shape with Thunderbird Automotive
Thunderbird Automotive is a leader in auto repair and maintenance in Phoenix, AZ thanks to our awesome customer service, broad range of repair services and expertise. To learn more about our services and get your vehicle checked out, please contact us at (602) 938-3631.