On Orozco’s Automotive Blog, we’ve already covered brakes and tires, both of which are important for avoiding accidents and keeping your car in control and safe. But what about keeping your engine running and preventing potential expensive damage? This week, we’re gonna cover timing belts – the single most important maintenance item in an automobile’s engine. A car’s timing belt is one item whose failure could very likely lead to the catastrophic destruction of your car’s entire engine.
A vehicle’s timing belt is a ribbed belt which runs in a certain way through several gears on one side of a car’s engine to keep the crankshaft and camshafts timed properly. Basically, it keeps the top half of your engine (camshaft and valves) in sync with the bottom half (crankshaft). If your car is more than 15 years old, it almost definitely has a timing belt. Some new cars, such as Audis and Hondas, still use timing belts, but several manufacturers have switched to metal timing chains that can theoretically last for the lifetime of the engine. The most definite way to determine whether your car has a timing belt or not is to check the owner’s manual. If there is no reference for timing belt service, your engine has a timing chain. The manufacturer’s recommended service schedule for timing belt replacement differs between cars, but a good general rule is to replace your timing belt every 5 years or 60,000 miles, whichever comes first.
Timing belt failure can be catastrophic to your vehicle’s engine.
There are two types of engine configurations which use timing belts: interference and non-interference. An interference engine is when the valve’s stroke and piston’s stroke occupy the same space in the cylinder at different times, and the timing belt keeps them from colliding with each other. If the timing belt fails, the cylinder and valves will most likely end up hitting each other, which will almost definitely lead to bent valves, but can also easily result in more serious damage such as cylinder head or camshaft damage, or possibly even piston and cylinder wall damage. It is possible, but extremely unlikely for a timing belt to snap on an interference type engine and not cause any damage, at least a few bent valves. On a
non-interference engine, pistons and valves never occupy the same space, so theoretically no valve or cylinder damage should occur if the timing belt snaps. In this case, replacing the broken timing belt should revert your engine to its normal function. Whether a car’s engine is interference or non-interference type is usually not listed in the owner’s manual, so to be sure what type of engine you have, you should Google it.
Changing an engine’s timing belt is not an easy job to do in a home garage. It is much harder to do correctly than an oil change or basic brake maintenance, and the results of an incorrectly done timing belt job can cost you several thousand dollars in damage. The difficulty of the service differs by vehicle, and getting it done professionally could cost anywhere from about $450 to several thousand dollars.
However, especially on an interference-type engine, much more severe and expensive damage can come from an incorrectly done job.
At Orozco’s Auto Service in Long Beach, we can give you all the information you need about your car’s timing belt and give you the best price for our quality of work. Our certified, professionally trained team of mechanics will work with you to figure out the service that works best for you and keep your car on the road and out of the shop as much as possible. If you think your vehicle may need its timing belt changed, call our team today at (562)-427-4256 and schedule your appointment. Orozoco’s Auto Service IS the most trusted shop in Long Beach!