Your Timing Belt, and Why You Cannot Risk It Breakingby Ali's Woodinville on 01/25/18
With new cars or at least cars you've owned from the time you bought them new, folks usually do a good job in following factory recommendations. When you know the entire history, then following the schedule for services in the manual is a little easier. Usually there is a recommended time to do oil changes, servicing of the whole vehicle, and these include a recommended time to replace the timing belt.
If you are getting close to the scheduled time for timing belt replacement, it's one repair that you should go ahead a be a little early on. More importantly, if you're not sure when you should get your timing belt replaced, and your mechanic tells you it should be done, then GET IT DONE. Many other areas of your car can be procrastinated on (though they shouldn't), but the timing belt is one part that will punish you the most, if it isn't replaced before it may break.
Why is it so important that your timing belt doesn't break? That's because, even though it may seem like a small belt in a large car, it is a vital part of the engine. If it breaks the entire vehicle will be shut down, therefore waiting is not an option. That's a safety issue for you, but a timing belt break will also cause expensive damage to the pistons and more. The timing belt exists for coordination of the engine's functions, not just the open and closing of valves but also controlling the crankshaft and camshaft. It shuts down your whole car if it's not working correctly.
When do you replace your timing belt? There are no particular symptoms to look out for. A mechanic can visually inspect the wear and that can help give you some clue as to whether it was changed at the last recommended interval. If you're unsure about when or if it was ever changed (usually needs to be done every 60K-100K miles), then get it changed at your technicians first sign of concern, and then KEEP TRACK of that mileage, so you'll know ahead of time for the next timing belt replacement.
I know, it's easy for a mechanic to say "just get it replaced", but a break can cost you thousands. In this case, it's going to be VERY important to play it safe. Another helpful tip, is that when you are having a timing belt replaced by a professional (this IS NOT A DO-IT-YOURSELF TYPE JOB), ask about other maintenance needs that can cost less at the time of this invasive procedure. Often times, the car must be taken apart, and the labor can be substantial, but while they are in there, you may ask to have your water pump changed out. Also, they should at least inspect, if not replace, the tensioner and ider pulleys to make sure they stay in good working order for the new belt. A good mechanic will bring up these other parts to you, and it's not like an upsell, it's actually something a good mechanic will to do look out for you!
Here's hoping you never run into trouble with your timing belt, and we hope these tips and explanations have helped. On timing belts, you should trust your mechanic's advice, and if you can't trust the mechanic you go to, FIND A NEW MECHANIC. In the Woodinville, Bothell, and Kirkland areas, we are ready to be your auto repair expert. If you live in the area, call Ali's Woodinville Auto repair today with any questions and to schedule an appointment!