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What does a timing belt do?

What does a timing belt do?

The timing belt is an essential part of the engine, synchronizing some of its most basic components. If your timing belt fails, your engine could be seriously damaged.

A belt is a band-shaped wear part made of flexible materials such as rubber and is used in many fields to transmit motion. In the automotive industry, the belt is an essential part of the smooth running of a vehicle. It is not used on its own but is guided by pulleys and kept taut by rollers. Here's how it works.

What's a timing belt for?

The timing belt coordinates the various parts of the engine and takes the form of a rubber loop with teeth or notches.

It connects the crankshaft (where the pistons are located) to the camshaft (where the valves are located). It also often drives the fuel injection pump or water pump.

The timing belt regulates the movement of the pistons and valves to provide the engine's various strokes: intake, compression, explosion, and exhaust before the cycle begins again.

The timing belt is driven by the crankshaft pulley. It then transmits its motion to the camshaft and components via their respective pulleys.

Not all vehicles are equipped with a timing belt. Some models have a timing chain. This works in the same way but in the form of metal links instead of a rubber loop.

How does a timing belt work?

The timing belt works thanks to its notches, which allow it to rotate two parts in the same rhythm:

  • The camshaft pulley;
  • The crankshaft pulley.

Thanks to these two parts, the belt synchronizes the movement of the valves and pistons while your engine is running. It allows the camshaft and the crankshaft to rotate synchronously, the former controlling the opening and closing of the valves and the latter converting the movement of the pistons into rotation.

There are also two rollers: a tensioning roller and a winding roller. These are used to tension the timing belt and hold it securely in the transmission. These rollers can sometimes deteriorate, causing the belt to fail.

When Should I Replace the Timing Belt?

In general, the timing belt should be replaced every 100,000 km to 150,000 km, or approximately every five years. However, the frequency of replacement can vary widely depending on the vehicle model, engine and year. Timing chains, on the other hand, do not require periodic replacement, but do require regular oil changes according to the manufacturer's instructions.

What are the symptoms of a worn belt?

When a timing belt starts to show real signs of wear, it's usually too late! If you don't, you run the risk of the following problems:

  • Cracks, tears or fissures in the timing belt, are synonymous with loss of elasticity and precede breakage.
  • Knocking, grinding or hissing noises, which indicate improper belt tension.
  • Misfiring, bucking and stalling while driving or accelerating.
  • Engine vibration due to belt wear causes friction between parts.
  • Loss of power.
  • Engine oil leaks.
  • Ignition problems.

How should I replace the timing belt?

We strongly advise against replacing the timing belt without proper knowledge and tools. The job can take several hours and requires the removal of many parts. An incorrectly installed belt can result in engine failure.

How much does it cost to replace a timing belt?

The price to replace a timing belt varies from vehicle to vehicle. On average, you should expect to pay about $600. But the price can range from $300 to $1,000, depending on your car. Timing belt replacement is one of the most expensive car maintenance procedures.

To begin with, you have to replace many parts at the same time as the belt. This is why we talk about a timing belt replacement kit. This kit includes:

  • Timing belt replacement;
  • Timing pulley replacement;
  • Water pump replacement;
  • Coolant bleeding;
  • Accessory belt replacement.
  • In addition, it takes several hours of labor to change a timing belt, which explains the high price.

Even if it's expensive, follow the manufacturer's instructions and don't wait to replace your timing belt.

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