Is the clock ticking on your timing belt?
A timing belt is a vital component of your engine system. Should it wear, fray or snap, you could be faced with eyewatering repair fees.
So to help you avoid the cost of a brand-new engine (or perhaps a new vehicle), here’s everything you need to know about timing belts – and when you need to replace them.
What is a timing belt?
Otherwise known as a cambelt, a timing belt is a thin belt made of rubber or synthetic material used to connect your engine’s crankshaft and camshaft.
As with all components made of rubber, excessive use leads to wear, fraying and snapping which, in the case of timing belts, can cause costly damage to your engine.
For this reason, it’s important to routinely check your timing belt’s condition and rigidly follow your vehicle’s servicing schedule.
At C R Allen & Sons, we check timing belts with all services and MOTs to ensure your engine continues to run correctly.
When does a timing belt need to be replaced?
In most cases your timing belt will need to be replaced every 60,000 to 100,000 miles or every 5 to 10 years (whichever comes first).
Replacing your timing belt before it fails will save you thousands in repair costs. Typical symptoms to watch out for include:
lack of power when accelerating
unusual noises from engine
excessive smoke from exhaust system
increased fuel consumption
complete engine failure
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms with your vehicle, refrain from driving and contact your nearest garage.
If you’re experiencing engine failure and located within a 5-mile radius of our garage, our technicians can recover your vehicle, diagnose the fault(s) and advise on the right repair.
How much does it cost to replace a timing belt?
The cost to replace a timing belt will depend on the make and model of your vehicle. Typical prices in the UK range from £200 to £600 and average at around £350.
What happens if your timing belt breaks?
If your timing belt breaks while you’re driving, you’ll likely hear backfiring and fracturing metal sounds, otherwise known as ‘interference engine’.
Without a functioning timing belt, the synchronisation of engine components is lost, which means steel valves and cylinder heads interfere with pistons at high RMPs causing excessive damage.
It’s the reason many timing belt failures lead to full engine replacement, costing thousands in unexpected mechanical fees that could have otherwise been avoided.
What causes a timing belt failure?
A timing belt will naturally wear over the course of your vehicle’s lifetime. In other instances, a timing belt failure is caused by trapped fibres from a deteriorating auxiliary belt. In extreme cases, this can cause the timing belt to jump or possibly come off the crankshaft pulley.