Timing Belt: Keeping the Beat of your Car in Check

The timing belt connects the crankshaft and the camshaft and makes them change at the ‘right’ time failing which it requires a timing belt change

The Timing Belt

Over time the rubber in the timing belt breaks or rots and this causes the valves in the car to stop moving. Normally the top of the piston and the bottom of the valve are never up at the same time but when the timing belt breaks, the piston hits the valve, bending it out of shape. Ideally, the timing belt change takes place every 6-8 years, although new materials are now increasing the length of time. The life of the belt also depends on the temperature and driving conditions as well as the age of the car. While changing the belt, it is good to also check the cylinder engine, water pump, the oil seals of the crankshaft and camshaft and the tensioner. The drive belt needs to be replaced when it is old and cracked while the water pump needs to be replaced if it leaks or if there’s a trail of antifreeze or deposits. Age oil seals can break or bend due to deterioration and the timing belt tensioner can also leak or freeze up which could cause the timing belt to break.

Signs of Wear

Timing belts are not usually exposed to outside elements which means it is safely set behind a cover plate but it also makes it difficult to inspect any damage. It is therefore important that the timing belt change happens within the recommended mileage points to prevent further rubber deterioration.  Oil leak on the timing belt indicates that an oil seal has a leak which is damaging to rubber making it soft and easily worn out. It is vital to fixing this problem quickly to prevent any more damage. The timing belt can stretch with age and this can cause the belt to slip and create a misfire situation. A rougher engine churning spouting smoke or the lighting up of the check engine indicator can indicate that it’s time to replace the timing belt. Cracks on the timing belt or missing teeth are very strong indicators that the belt is past its prime.

The timing belt change or replacement of any part should be done promptly so as to not affect the overall condition of the car.

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