When it comes to your vehicle, your engine is one of the most critical things you need to maintain to avoid catastrophic damages occurring to your vehicle. Any time the check engine light turns on, drivers know that action must be taken quickly to avoid compounding any problems as engine repair work is usually the most extensive and expensive of repairs.
However, one key component that is often overlooked during routine maintenance is the timing belt in your engine. The timing belt can be either a rubber belt or steel chain that will synchronize the rotations of your crankshaft and your camshafts so that the engine valves open and close properly in your engine. Specifically, the rubber timing belt eventually wears down over time and in worst case scenarios, will break while you’re driving your vehicle. Should your timing belt break or if the rubber teeth on the belt wear off, this will often cause a collision between the valves and the piston and if that happens, it can spell disaster for your engine.
Usually there are no warning signs prior to the timing belt wearing out which is what makes it such a disastrous occurrence. It will have to break while driving which wreaks havoc not just on the valves and the pistons but your entire engine becomes at risk of suffering irreplaceable damages to your vehicle, not to mention how dangerous it is while driving as it causes your vehicle to coast to a stop with little driver control.
It’s important to consult your vehicle’s manual to determine if your vehicle has a rubber timing belt or a steel timing chain and to find out how often your timing belt should be inspected. Most high qualified auto mechanics will recommend that you replace your timing belt between 60,000 to 100,000 miles since there are no clear signs to indicate your timing belt is nearing capacity. As with most engine work, it is a bit more of an expensive repair, preventative replacement of a timing belt usually will run between $500-$900 but keep in mind that completely rebuilding or replacing valves, pistons and the water pump in your engine should the belt break, will cost upwards of $2,000 at least.
One reason to figure out if you have a timing belt or chain is the widely different conditions of both. Steel timing chains are closer to bike chains and they are more resistant to wear and deterioration, so much so that most auto mechanics and manufacturers don’t even list a recommended time period or mileage to replace them. The downside with steel chains is that there is no way to determine if or when it will break, if it breaks it will most likely be a completely sudden and random occurrence.
While there is no way to know when exactly the timing belt in your vehicle may break, there are a few signs to look for to help you determine if it’s time to change your timing belt.
A Ticking Sound from the Engine– Since the timing belt effects the crankshaft and camshaft in your engine, when it starts to wear out you may begin to hear a ticking noise. This happens because the timing belt is still cycling these parts and sending fuel to the combustion chamber, just at less efficiency because of the wearing belt, which produces the ticking noise.
Your Engine Won’t Turn Over– If your timing belt is actually broken, the engine will be completely unable to turn over and engage. This is because the crankshaft and camshaft will be unable to spin and fuel the combustion process. Repeatedly trying to get your engine to turnover may only further complicate matters and result in more damage to your vehicle.
Oil Leaking From the Front of the Motor– The timing belt cover may begin to leak oil, which happens when the screws and bolts that hold the cover in space, become looser and looser over time. This is a sign that the entire timing belt needs to be checked and adjusted.
These are just a few symptoms to look for but even if you just think it’s time to have your vehicle inspected, it’s important to take action quickly as the damage caused by a broken timing belt is often massive. To schedule an appointment to have your vehicle inspected by the experienced mechanics at Bay Diagnostic, please call us at 718-615-0705 or visit us at baydiagnostic.com