Replacing a Timing Belt
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Replacing a Timing Belt

The timing belt is an often overlooked part of the car but it plays an important role.

If an auto mechanic told you that replacing a timing belt needed immediate attention and it was going to cost more than $1,000, you might assume it’s a scam.

But unlike the shady mechanic who attempts to change your engine air filter every oil change, replacing the timing belt is absolutely crucial.

The timing belt is an integral part of your engine and, if it fails, so does your engine, causing your car to shut down.

You don’t want to be driving 100 kms per hour on the freeway if it broke. It’s definitely a safety issue.

How the timing belt works

The rubber timing belt is part of most internal combustion engines and is responsible for synchronizing the engine’s functions. It controls the rotation of the camshaft and crankshaft and the opening and closing of the engine’s many valves to allow air and gas in and out, which causes the fuel to ignite in the combustion chamber. During this explosion, the valves allow fuel in and exhaust out.

In order for the process to take place, the valves have to open and close at the right time. The valves have to be in the correct position as well as the pistons. The valves open at different times for each cylinder. It’s a mechanical ballet of sorts.

When the timing belt breaks, the valves, which are very light, will open at the wrong time and hit the pistons and cause damage.

When to replace the timing belt?

Unfortunately, in most cases, there are no obvious signs the timing belt is near death; it will just break. That’s why highly rated auto mechanics recommend replacing it every 60 000 – 100 000 kms. Always check your owner’s manual for the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Timing belts used to be a relatively ignored maintenance item by many drivers. Replacing a broken timing belt used to be common, but now most replacement jobs are for preventive maintenance.

People are a lot more aware of the timing belt, and the mechanics are educating drivers more about them. Now, more people know about it and what can happen when it breaks.

Timing belt replacement cost

Replacing a timing belt for preventive reasons typically costs $500 to $900. However, replacing a broken timing belt may cost up to $2,000 or more if it caused damage to the valves, pistons or water pump.

In some cases, you may have a very expensive repair and you have to buy a new car or you’ll have to rent a car, and it can put you in a very stressful situation.

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