There’s a lot that Minnesota drivers have to put their cars through; from weather to road conditions, we can be hard on our vehicles. With regular engine maintenance, though, we can avoid the big costs that come with the wear and tear. This is especially true when it comes to the timing belt on our cars. Let’s find out exactly why.

Parts of the Timing Belt

Simply put, your timing belt does exactly what it’s named for: It keeps intricate parts of your car all running at the same pace – ensuring it works as it should. To break it down further, the timing belt is in your engine and controls when valves open and close. The valves open and close thousands of times a minute, and if even one thing is off, disaster can strike.

That’s because the opening and closing of valves are what allows air, fuel, and exhaust to flow through and out of your engine. As said before, all of this happens at a precise time with no room for error.

The timing belt has a system that makes it run. One part includes the tensioner, which helps keep the belt at the right amount of tightness. There are also pulleys that make the belt slide. Unlike large engines that use a timing chain, belts need to be replaced at recommended intervals – as there’s often little to no warning that your belt is going out.

Common Problems with Timing Belts

Cracks: When we say no warning, it’s more like no warning you can see. In many cars, the timing belt is difficult to access and cannot be seen without moving other parts out of the way. As a result, cracks that indicate a worn belt may not be caught before it breaks completely.

Looseness: The same can be said for a loose timing belt.  A technician can inspect your timing belt and look for looseness, but on some cars, getting to the belt to take a look can be almost as much work as changing it.

Slipping: A timing belt has rivets on one side of it that turn the pulleys. These rivets are called “teeth” and after a while, a timing belt can lose a few of these teeth. This results in the timing belt slipping out of place, which may result in the engine stopping, misfiring, and in some severe cases, bending the valves.

In less common cases, the valves may be big enough that they come in contact with another integral part of your car called the pistons. If the timing belt breaks or slips off, that causes the pistons to smash right into the valves, which can have a domino effect that ultimately destroys your engine. Did we mention it’s important to replace your timing belt at the manufacturer’s recommended interval?

Things to Know About Timing Belt Service

Below are some quick facts to know about timing belt service, so you have an idea of what to expect when you come into the shop.

  1. Some timing belts can be visibly inspected. Others can’t. This means that labor is more extensive, as it takes more time when more things have to be taken apart.
  2. Because of this, timing belts can be one of the costlier maintenance services. But it’s much better than potentially paying thousands for a new engine when it breaks unexpectedly.
  3. Depending on your car, when you bring it in for regular service, we will mention and stress the importance of the timing belt replacement if your car is near that service interval. On some engines, it is recommended at 60,000 miles while on others they don’t need it until 90,000 or more. Double check your manual.
  4. In many situations, the timing belt drives the water pump. It’s best practice to replace the pump when you replace your belt, as most of the work is already done and additional costs are minimal compared to having to repeat the work when the pump goes out.

At Kennedy Brake Transmission and Auto Service, we’ll make sure to let you know when you are nearing the service interval – and if your belt is in view – show you why we may be concerned about the belt.

If it’s about time to get your timing belt serviced, don’t wait until the worst happens. Bring it into your local Kennedy Technician and we’ll get you back on the road in no time!

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