Hey, do you want to know What is the timing belt and what are the signs that your timing belt needs replacement? If yes. Then read this blog till the end.
When they say, ‘trust the timing’ you should do just that, not just in life but also with your car.
Even your car’s engine trusts i.e. rely on a timing belt to ensure all parts of it are in sync. The timing belt confirms that the engine of your car runs efficiently, making your ride a safe one. Routinely getting timing belt service further checks everything works with total efficiency.
The timing belt has a high degree of operational responsibility. So, as a car owner, you too must take charge to maintain the timing belt and replace it as and when required. Prompt timing belt service is the key to ensuring that.
But to be able to figure out if the timing belt in your car needs a replacement, you first need to understand how a timing belt works and when it’s time for a replacement.
What is a timing belt?
Simply put, the timing belt is a strengthened rubber band with notches on its inner side. These notches control the opening and closing of the engine’s valves with precision.
The timing belt chain interconnects your engine’s crankshaft with the camshaft. This is why it has a crucial role in supervising the valves and pistons in your car.
Think of it as a bike chain, but for your car. Made of rubber, the timing belt has hard teeth that help interlock the crankshaft & the camshafts with the cogwheels of your vehicle. This allows the synchronized movement of camshafts and crankshafts. If these parts fail to function coherently, the car will not run efficiently.
Symptoms of a bad timing belt
Sometimes, you may not notice any alerting signs before a timing belt snaps. But we have mentioned some signs that show that your timing belt needs a replacement:
When a timing chain is about to break, it becomes loose. Due to this, the engine’s valves will no longer run correctly. When the valves start running off-sync, the engine will not run efficiently and cause your vehicle to have a rough idle. A rough idle is when your car shudders or shakes when you hit the brake.
Difficulty starting the car
You may also find it hard to start the car. If the engine timing belt has worn out, the engine may even fail to start. This happens because the timing belt is what controls the camshaft and crank which keeps the engine running. A broken timing belt can also lead to internal damage.
Screeching sounds from the belts
A timing chain tensioner noise may be heard from within the engine due to a dying belt. A faltering tensioner loosens the belt and it may start hitting other components. You can take that squeaky or screechy noise as a warning sign as it may result in more trouble.
Constant tapping sound from the engine
If you start hearing a ticking sound from your engine and it may not be because of a lack of lubrication. Chances are, it may be because of a worn-out timing belt. If you notice this sign, get your engine checked immediately by a mechanic. If you continue to ignore it, the belt may fully break and stop the engine from functioning.
If you notice oil leaking from the front of your vehicle, there is a chance that the engine is leaking motor oil from the timing belt cover. Along with wearing out the timing belt, this leakage can cause the engine to overheat. You want to get your engine checked out as soon as possible to prevent further complications.
Check engine light may begin to flash
Check engine light may illuminate for several reasons. One of these reasons is when your car has a bad timing belt. When the timing belt gets stretched or damaged, it affects the engine performance. It increases engine emissions, prompting the engine light to turn on. A skilled mechanic will use a digital device to diagnose the issue. They will also perform a visual inspection of the engine.
How does the timing belt work?
The timing belt works in recurring cycles. Its crucial function is to keep the camshaft in rotation and synchronize it with the engine’s crankshaft. In a bicycle-pedaling motion, the timing belt syncs the pistons and valves, enabling them to push the cams on the camshafts at the exact times. This process ensures that the cams reach the top of the cycle before getting pushed down again by the pistons and valves.
The inner side of the timing belt has teeth. These teeth generate friction as the timing belt comes into contact with the crankshaft and camshaft cogwheels. If they get damaged the timing belt will end up dismantling the coordination between the crankshaft and camshaft. This will ruin the piston and valve timing, which can cause some major damage to the valves and pistons. Made from high-quality rubber and nylon cords, timing belts ease engine operations. Some belts may even provide power to the water pump.
So when should you replace a timing belt?
Changing the timing belt is a rather costly service. It is a complex, manually carried out process that takes anywhere between 3–7 hours. Getting it replaced before it breaks will guard your vehicle against engine damage. It also allows you to save your money on repairs in the long haul.
There are no clear signs that indicate if your timing belt is about to break. It may snap, skips teeth/ jump its timing, or lose teeth.
Due to this, expert mechanics suggest replacing it every 70,000 to 110,000 miles. The manufacturer’s maintenance schedule, driving habits, and road conditions may also determine the time of replacement as well.
What happens if the timing belt breaks?
Unlike some engine components which can falter but not cause any severe damage, a timing belt can have serious implications on the other engine parts. This is what happens when a timing belt breaks:
The camshaft stops turning, but the crankshaft continues to rotate at 1000 spins/pm.
Consequently, the pistons continually rise and fall but start to strike closed valves. This movement almost instantly damages the pistons, cylinder heads, and valves.
Fixing these additional damages can be very costly.
How often should you change the timing belt?
There is no fixed time. You can check your car manufacturer’s logbook for the suggested maintenance schedule. Some manufacturers may advise changing the timing belt after every 30,000 miles or so. Others recommended 120,000 miles. Many other factors may also hint that its time to replace a timing belt, like,
- Poor engine performance
- Engine misfire or bad spark plug wire may also shorten the life of your timing belt
- Squealing or screeching noise from the engine
- Extreme temperatures put more stress on the timing belt. This may cause the timing belt to break faster.
In the above situations, you should take your car to an auto care shop and get your timing belt checked.
Does the timing belt give any warning signs?
Yes, there may be some signs that indicate that there’s something wrong with the timing belt, here are 5 key warning signs of a worn-out timing belt:
- You may notice black smoke coming out the exhaust pipe of your car when you start the engine.
- A damaged timing belt may cause the engine to misfire at times.
- You may face some difficulty starting the car because a damaged timing belt will bring down your engine’s starting speed.
- During routine maintenance sessions, you may also find minor cracks in the timing belt and notice shattered pieces of it in the engine.
How long does it take to change the timing belt?
Changing the timing belt is an intricate, lengthy task and you can expect it to consume anywhere between 4-7 hours to finish the process. Owing to the precision it takes to get this service done, a timing belt replacement process will typically take around 4-6 hours to complete.
It is extremely important to carefully examine your engine to confirm it functions smoothly. If you observe any warning signs we have mentioned, take your car to an auto care service provider immediately. It may probably be a minor repair, or it might mean trouble, i.e. the timing belt snaps while driving. Visit a professional Auto care shop and get your timing belt and other engine parts checked to avoid potentially dreadful damages.
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