Do I really need to replace my timing belt?

timing-belt-replacementYes, you should replace your timing belt, but know when and why and choose a good repair shop to perform the work.  There are many places that you can look up to see whether you vehicle has a timing belt or a timing chain.  Call your repair shop and they can look up your specific vehicle and they should be able tell you whether you have a timing belt and when it should be replaced based on mileage and/or time.

When and why should I replace my timing belt?

Unfortunately, in most cases, there are no obvious signs the timing belt is near its end of life; it can break, lose teeth or jump its timing. That’s why highly rated auto mechanics recommend replacing it every 60,000 to 105,000 miles based on the vehicle’s factory recommended maintenance schedule, your individual driving habits and conditions as well as time before the belt breaks or has a catastrophic failure.

“More vehicles have timing belts and their owners have become aware of the maintenance that a timing belt requires,” Dana Haglin, Owner of Haglin Automotive says. “Most drivers know what can happen when it breaks and what other components should be inspected and replaced when performing a routine timing belt replacement.”

How the timing belt works

timing belt

The high grade rubber that is used for a timing belt is made for superior heat and resistance as this belt is responsible for synchronizing the engine’s internal timing, endures high temperatures and is susceptible to oil contamination. It controls the rotation of the camshaft and the relationship with the crankshaft and the opening and closing of the engine’s many valves to maintain perfect harmony within the engine.

“In order for the process to take place, the valves have to open and close at exactly the correct time,” says Haglin. “The valves have to be in the correct position and in sync with the pistons and open at different times for each cylinder. It’s truly a mechanical ballet and the timing belt is the conductor.”

When the timing belt breaks, the valves, will open at the wrong time and hit the pistons and cause major engine damage leading to a much higher level of repair costing a substantial amount of money.

The cost to replace timing belts

Car on hoist

Car on hoist

The cost to replace a timing belt will depend on your vehicle, what type of engine and the different components it takes to give you an accurate estimate which makes could make the estimate difficult.  My best advice is to make sure that your mechanic has experience and knowledge about your car.  Ask that shop for a complete estimate and what parts that they recommend while replacing the timing belt.  Don’t be shocked when the price seems high as many other components may be recommended when replacing the timing belt.  Some water pumps are driven or powered by the timing belt and should be replaced at the same time.  Make sure that you have your technician inspect the rollers, tensioners, camshaft and crankshaft seals for leaks and make sure that if it has a hydraulic tensioner that you request that it be replace as well.

If you do any price inquiries around town, make sure that you are comparing apples to apples and all of the parts are of the same quality and the same work is being performed.  I would recommend OE (original equipment) parts.  Some repair shops require a cooling system flush in order to warranty out the water pump for an extended period of time.  If you trust your mechanic, stay with your mechanic and ask any and all questions that you may have.

Remember that you can ask for all of the old parts to be returned to you so you can see exactly what was replaced.  If you are interested in what it looks like while being repaired, ask for some pictures to be sent or even find out the timing of the repair and ask to stop in and see your car apart.

Have you asked yourself “how important is a timing belt replacement?”. Haglin Automotive is a Subaru specialist with years of experience replacing Subaru timing belts. We are timing belt specialists. Subaru recommends replacement at 105,000 miles.