Timing Belt - What You Need to Know

A timing belt is a critical part of the engine that is used to open and close the engine valve in coordination with the pistons. To put it more in layman’s terms, the timing belt allows the top half of the engine to be in sync with the bottom. So, you can see that there might be an issue if the timing belt breaks. There have been many car companies that have started to use a timing chain which is basically a metal version that’s supposed to last the life of the vehicle but most likely, your car is outfitted with a timing belt. But if you’re not sure if you have a timing belt or a timing chain you can check out the owner’s manual or ask one of our technicians the next time you’re having some maintenance done on your vehicle. The timing belt is a ribbed belt that operates the crankshaft of the car which, due to the general wear-and-tear of the car, can snap. When this occurs, there can be some major damage done to the car. Having it replaced immediately is the best way to minimize costs and harm to the car. Some of the consequences of not having the timing belt replaced includes bent valves, cylinder head or camshaft damage and piston and cylinder wall damage. There is a slight chance that no damage could occur but that risk certainly isn’t worth taking. If you’re in the Waterford, MI area and you want your timing belt inspected or it has snapped, have it brought into us for service. Here are a few signs that you can look for to warn you if your timing belt might be on the verge of snapping. The simplest way is to take a peek under the hood yourself. Don’t worry, it doesn’t involve much more than opening up the hood and using your eyes. Take a look at the timing belt and try to spot chips, cracks, missing ribbing or spots that may look like coolant or oil. A timing belt that’s in good shape will not exhibit any of these signs of wear-and-tear. Another indicator that your timing belt might need replacing is if you hear a high-pitched sound when your engine is idling. Whether you’re at a red light and you hear it or you’ve just pulled into a parking spot and you’re about to turn the engine off, hearing this shrieking sound may be an indication that the timing belt should be replaced. A bad timing belt could also reveal itself if you’re car has trouble starting up. While it’s a wide span of time, a timing belt usually lasts between 60,000 and 100,000 miles and your owner’s manual should have the information as to when you should have it replaced as part of a preventative maintenance program just like you would an oil change or tire rotation. If you’re in the Waterford, MI area and you think the timing belt might be nearing its end then bring it into our shop and have a mechanic inspect it for you. Finally, if your timing belt snaps or it’s time to have it replaced, have a certified mechanic do the job for you. It can be a complicated process and, unless you know cars really well, it’s not a task you want to take on yourself.

September 13, 2016