Despite what you might think, the timing belt plays a vital role in running your car’s engine; it makes sure valves open and close precisely. Unfortunately, since replacing it can get expensive, many owners skip this step in the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule, but timing belt failure can damage the engine and lead to more expensive repairs in the long run. In short, the cost of replacing it is usually less shocking than the cost of overhauling a damaged engine. Not to mention, if the timing belt breaks while you’re driving, it puts your safety at risk.
When to Replace the Timing Belt
In a lot of cases, your car will warn you before something goes wrong (via the service lights on the dashboard or decreased performance), but this is not the case with the timing belt. When it breaks, that’s all the warning you get. This is yet another reason following the service guidelines outlined by the manufacturer keeps your car out of trouble. Most carmakers suggest replacing the belt between 50,000 and 100,000 miles since time and wear start to set in around this time.
Why is Timing Belt Replacement Expensive?
A task that can run you anywhere from $500 to $1000, many drivers wonder why this simple component is worth the high cost. Although the price of the belt isn’t bad (around $25), the reason mechanics charge so much is due to access. Basically, it takes a lot of work to get to the timing belt. Although replacing this part on schedule will cost you, rebuilding a failed engine after a timing belt break– around $2,000–hurts much more. Depending on the damage, it might make sense to opt for a new car, altogether.
To save time and money, technicians often recommend replacing other difficult-to-access parts (water pump, tensioner, idler arm) when servicing the timing belt. Remember, preventative maintenance keeps your engine happy.
What About Inspection Instead of Replacement?
Asking a technician to do all that work–timing belts are hidden under other engine parts–just to take a look isn’t a good idea. You’d have to pay for labor (which is why this process demands the high cost) and you’d have nothing to show for it. Might as well have it replaced while you’re there.
What If the Timing Belt Breaks?
The level of damage from a timing belt break will differ depending on the engine type, interference or non-interference. For an interference engine, the break will cause valves and cylinder head to bend and possibly harm the cylinder wall and piston. For a non-interference engine, these parts are less vulnerable, but a timing belt break often leaves you stranded on the roadside, so replacement on time should be a priority.
Remember, for all your vehicle’s needs, call 610AutoHaus in Pottstown at 610-427-4505!