Timing belts breaking or failing on a vehicle can cause extreme engine damage. On a monthly basis we see vehicles towed in, that the timing belt has failed. We recommend all consumers check with their manufacturer or trusted repair facility to find out if their vehicle is equipped with a timing belt, and if so what is the recommended mileage or age for replacement. Following these intervals of replacement are crucial to avoid a failure.
These internals can vary between 60,000 miles up to 105,000 miles or between 5 to 7 years of age, depending on the year make and model of the vehicle. The objective of timing belt maintenance is to replace the belt prior to it’s failure. Recently, an owner of a local machine shop told me that timing belt equipped vehicles have been great for his business. Meaning that he works on a lot of engines and performs a lot of cylinder head rebuilds due to the damage that occurs when a timing belt fails. Whenever a timing belt fails, by slipping or breaking it can cause engine damage. This engine damage can be very expensive and time consuming to repair.
The timing belt is comprised of a corded rubber with cogs that mate with the sprockets of the camshaft and crankshaft of the engine. The cogs maintain the synchronization of the camshaft and crankshaft. Age, mileage and contamination from coolant and/or oil can effect the strength of the fibers and rubber composition of the timing belt. One or all of these factors can cause wear and eventually the failure of a timing belt.
To keep your vehicle running well, to maintain the value of your vehicle, and to avoid a catastrophic failure, have the timing belt replaced, either by the recommended age or mileage whichever comes first. Also, if you have any type of coolant or oil leak that is contaminating the timing belt, we advise having that leak repaired and the timing belt replaced at that time. Timing belt preventative maintenance is a lot less expensive than the repair after failure. Don’t wait until it breaks to fix it, error on the side of prevention!
Steve and Karen Johnston are owners of All About Automotive in Historic Downtown Gresham. If you have questions or comments, call them at 503-465-2926 or email them at [email protected].