If you have just received a quote for changing your timing belt, it’s possible that you’re checking the depths of your wallet, breaking open piggy banks, and turning couches upside down just to look for a little bit of extra money.
You’re most likely also asking yourself if you’re getting ripped off.
The fact is that timing belt replacement expenses can be a few thousand dollars, though they generally sit anywhere between $500 and $2000 depending upon your automobile.
As you’ll notice quickly, however, that’s a lot better than the costs you will face if your timing belt slips or snaps!
What Is A Timing Belt?
Your automobile likely has a variety of belts that keeps the vehicle running. You have most likely become aware of fan belts, camera belts, air con belts, generator belts, power steering belts, drive belts, and serpentine belts. That’s a whole lot of belts.
It also results in a great deal of confusion, when your last belt replacement has cost you $80 and now you’re gazing down the barrel of $1000 plus for the next one.
So let’s find out more about this.
What’s With All The Needed Belts?
Drive belts and fan belts are basically the same thing. They are usually set up in an automobile’s engine to run the generator, power steering, or cooling. That means that an alternator belt is a kind of drive belt.
Depending upon your automobile, you may have one belt for each of these 3 systems. At the same time, you may have one long belt that runs all 3, which is called a serpentine belt.
Timing belts, also referred to as cam belts, are an entirely different monster.
Exactly what Is A Timing Belt Then?
Timing belts work to keep your engine in sync. There are numerous moving parts in your vehicle’s engine, and it’s essential that they all operate in sync. The timing belt manages the timing of the crankshaft and camshafts (thus it in some cases being described as a cambelt).
You must keep in mind that not all automobiles will use a timing belt. Rather, lots of contemporary cars utilize a chain system instead, which unlike timing belts, are not vulnerable to snapping and do not need routine replacement at regular periods. They do, nevertheless, feature their own set of possible problems. Consult your owner’s handbook to see which kind of system your car is fitted with.
How Do I Know Which Is Which?
The basic guideline is that if you can see a belt when you open the hood, it’s a serpentine or drive belt. Timing belts are a far more complex and delicate system and are concealed behind the cam cover on the side or front of the engine.
How Do Timing Belts Work?
The timing belt is made from rubber and integrates the rotation of both the crankshaft and the camshaft. It likewise manages the timing of the engine’s valves which let fuel and air into the cylinders. The fuel is sparked in the combustion chamber by the firing of your spark plugs, and throughout this combustion, the valves press the pistons down.
For the combustion procedure to occur correctly, the timing of the opening and closing of the valves will have to be precise. Both the valves and the pistons have to be in the best position, as they will not all fire at the exact same time.
To level the power sent out to the crankshaft, each cylinder fires at a different time, and this process has to operate in sync. If not, your car can experience timing problems and the engine will not run correctly.
The timing belt likewise for the most part runs the water pump. The water pump manages the circulation of coolant around the engine. If this isn’t running properly, you risk of your engine getting too hot.
Why Do I Have To Change My Timing Belt?
Much like lots of other parts, timing belts undergo wear and tear and require to be changed at regular periods of time. As you can see, the timing belt system is important to lots of functions inside your engine, so routine upkeep is very much crucial.
If your air-con belt snaps, then you’ll most likely only lose the ability to turn on your Air Conditioning system. If the timing belt snaps, on the other hand, it might lead to severe, irreversible damage to the engine. That’s not the only thread that timing belts have though. Whilst they can snap, they are also known to slip if the teeth of the belt wear.
Both of these are rather common incidents in badly kept cars, as timing belts are made from rubber and rubber naturally breaks down in time. Plus, the belt is continuously run at high speeds and undergoes a great deal of heat from inside the engine. These 2 elements will mean that your car’s timing belt will have to be changed at regular periods of time.
When Do I Have To Replace My Timing Belt?
Most of the time, there isn’t an apparent indication that your timing belt is coming close to completion of its life. Whereas a drive belt might begin to screech as it gets worn down, telling you it’s due for replacement, timing belts usually do not provide this sort of warning signal.
Regrettably, they are the sort of belts that will simply break without any notice. That’s why timing belt replacement has to become part of your routine, preventative upkeep. It may look like rather a costly repair work to consider as part of your routine upkeep, but trust us, you do not want to undertake the expense of fixing your engine if the belt breaks.
The specific interval entirely depends upon your car, so read through your owner’s handbook to be sure. A basic guideline for several years has actually been every 60,000 miles, however, some contemporary cars can run as far as 75,000 to 100,000 miles before replacement is even needed. There is also an age component to think about, as even if you drive extremely little, the rubber can still break down. Your car’s handbook will likely reveal this as a ‘whichever precedes’ suggestion, such as every 75,000 or 5 years, whichever precedes.
What Will Happen If The Timing Belt Breaks?
This is the last thing you would want. Though in some uncommon cases (usually at very low speeds), you can get away with no or very little damages, typically when your timing belt breaks your engine will suffer some quite severe damage.
The valves and pistons are no longer running in sync, and they’ll hit each other. This can damage and ruin both the pistons and the valves and damages the engine’s cylinder walls.
Worst case scenario: the camshaft can break or get extensive damage, and this is not cheap repair work.
Signs Of A Bad Timing Belt
Even with correct upkeep, timing belts can spoil. If you’re experiencing any of the following signs, it could be an indication of a bad belt, and you ought to go to your local mechanic instantly before anything worse would happen.
If the teeth on the timing belt are used out, it can start to get out of the gears. If this will happen, any of the cylinders can open and close at a bad time. This triggers the mix of air, fuel, and spark to be off, leading to a misfire.
When the teeth slip and stop working to grip the gears, some of the many engine parts that the belt is turning are inevitably impacted. If this affects the camshaft timing, the engine can start to jolt and even stall.
Low Oil Pressure
Among the timing belt’s tasks is to spin the gears of the camshaft. In severe cases where the timing is off, it can skip some of the gears and break pieces off of the camshaft. These can get in the oil pan and lead to a drop in oil pressure at the bottom of the engine.
This is a quite severe problem, as it can make the motor stop and fail to work completely.
Smoke Coming From The Engine
If you see an uncommon amount of smoke originating from your exhaust pipe, this is usually a cause for concern. In cold, wintery weather conditions it can be hard to figure out if this is simply water vapor or real smoke, however, it’s much better to be safe than sorry. If it seems like more than the usual or the smoke is grey or blue, get your vehicle inspected as soon as possible.
If your timing belt is causing any problems, the valves that let exhaust gases out of the cylinders (and air in) will end up being unsynchronized, which lead to these air and exhaust gases being kept in and out of the cylinders at the incorrect time. This is then seen as too much smoke originating from your tailpipe.
Damaged Valves Or Pistons
If this takes place, it’s usually far too late. Your timing belt has actually most likely snapped, the crankshaft and camshaft have actually come out of sync, and the pistons have gotten into contact with the valves.
If you experience or think this has actually taken place, the very best thing to do is to turn off your engine completely to prevent any additional damage.
Timing Belt Replacement Cost
Sadly, many timing belt replacement projects aren’t low-cost. They can be anywhere from $500 to $2000 plus, depending upon a couple of essential aspects:
- Car make and design
- Labor expenses
- Parts changed
As a basic guideline, older or more commonly found cars are less expensive to maintain, particularly when it comes to changing the timing belt. For instance, a 2005 Volvo XC70 might be less than $600, whereas a 2014 VW Jetta is most likely to be over the $1000 range.
A 2nd significant element that affects the expense of timing belt replacements is the amount and type of labor needed. Lots of modern-day engines are quite a tight fit inside their engine bay, making this project seriously hard due to concerns about gaining access.
Some engines, such as Nissan’s RB line, have the cambelt assembly right at the front of the engine, while numerous cars (especially front-wheel drive vehicles) have transverse engines. This implies the cam cover is usually put against other parts on the driver’s side of the engine.
Specialty and high-end automobiles tend to be harder to get to, particularly if they have big engines. These kinds of vehicles typically need a professional mechanic, driving labor expenses up even more.
It’s Not Only About The Belt
The primary reason why timing belt replacement repair can cost a lot though is that you’re typically not just changing the belt.
The timing belt system will also include a series of tensioners and idler bearings, which aid to guide and drive the belt. It’s typically suggested that these are changed at the same time as part of regular upkeep.
The very same goes for your water pump. If your water pump stops working (and it ultimately will as it wears down gradually), then changing this system means getting rid of the timing belt anyhow. This is why a great deal of mechanics suggest changing the water pump at the same time. In addition, there are a variety of oil seals that can only be accessed when the timing belt assembly has actually been dismantled, so these need to be changed too.
As you can see, timing belt replacements can be a quite pricey project. That being said, paying for that upkeep expense in advance can (and will) save you a lot of money in repairs from the belt snapping.