When and how often should you change the timing belt on your car

How often should the timing belt be changed?

☑ A bit of theory. The timing belt (or timing belt) is an integral part of the link between the crankshaft and the camshaft (the shafts in a 16 valve engine). The crankshaft, driven by the timing belt, rotates the camshaft, which opens or closes the valves in a specific sequence. This allows fuel injection or exhaust emissions. The timing belt, is the “dry” connecting link in the chain from the crankshaft to the camshaft. In other words, it is outside the engine (usually covered by a cowl) and not lubricated by engine oil, unlike the chain which is inside the engine and lubricated by engine oil. That’s the theory.

As it becomes clear, the timing belt, there are impressive forces acting on it, it wears out. Therefore, from time to time it needs to be changed. If not to do this, it is possible to run into serious problems. The belt will be simply torn, the engine will become unbalanced, there is a chance to bend the valves. Although modern engines are insured against this, they have pits on the engine pistons.

☑ And here a lot of questions arise, and the main one is after how long should the timing belt be changed?

Let me put it this way – if you have a new warranty car, you won’t even know when it’s replaced. You will just have it replaced under warranty. Usually it’s either 40,000 to 50,000 for our cars. Or 60,000 to 70,000 for imported cars.

However, if your car is out of warranty, and you do not know when the timing belt was last changed (the car was bought from another owner). Then the question – how often should the timing belt be changed, sounds differently.

☑ This is what I would do!

1) Try to find out from the previous owner, was the timing belt changed at all? If yes – approximately when. If mileage in our domestic car is already replaced with a timing belt for more than 30,000 miles, you need to change, if the foreign car would have changed it after 50,000 – 60,000. Also, if the belt is not changed, it is necessary to urgently change, provided that the mileage of the car is high.

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2) Where was the timing belt, at an official station or your uncle in the garage. This is also important. I will explain why. If you change at the officers, they usually put the original parts, and respectively the timing belt will also be original. It lasts long enough. Again, they will give you a warranty. If you changed in a garage at Uncle Vasya’s, then 50/50, you can put a good timing belt, and it will also run for a long time. Can advise another belt cheaper, but that’s just how long it will last no one knows.

3) Even if the car you bought was replaced with a timing belt 10,000 to 15,000 kilometers ago. It can easily break, especially in our cars, foreign cars have longer belts. Why, you may ask? Yes, because many motorists, especially in winter, warm up the engine at parking lots, for example, sometimes warming up the engine reaches 10 – 15 minutes. The speedometer of the car stands, and the engine is running. Therefore, in our latitudes, with difficult road conditions and our winters, the timing belt should be changed more often. Let’s assume the manufacturer assures that the timing belt runs 60 000 km, let’s assume Lada Priora. Feel free to divide the mileage by two and get 30,000 kilometers, it seems to be true. In foreign cars the same, only there the manufacturers declare 100 – 120 000 kilometers, here you can divide not by two, and take 30 – 40%, that is, change after about 60 – 70 000 kilometers.

I think you understand the way I was thinking. If you have an original timing belt, and the manufacturer says you can drive 120,000 kilometers, it is better to change it in 80,000 kilometers. You will have more peace of mind. Allow 40,000 for wear and tear and winter warm-ups. Also remember, you should not skimp on the timing belt, especially if you have no “potholes” on the pistons in case of a timing belt failure. Then you’ll end up with a costly repair. Buy only proven belts, the ones the factory puts on their cars. I think I’ve answered your question – how often to change the timing belt. (ц)

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All you need to know about the timing belt and its replacement. Memo for drivers

Timing belt is responsible for synchronization of crankshaft and camshaft. This ensures that the engine stroke is precisely aligned: the valves open and close exactly at the moments that correspond to a particular piston position.

For example, when fuel ignites in the cylinder, the piston moves down and turns the crankshaft, which through the timing belt turns the camshafts that control the valves synchronously: the intake valves close and the exhaust valves open in the next cycle when the piston moves back. And so on through all four strokes.

If this process is out of sync, the engine is disturbed: starting problems, vibration, stalling, loss of power, and other similar symptoms occur. This happens when the belt is stretched and its teeth jump on the pulleys relative to the correct position.

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The worst-case scenario is a timing belt failure. In this case, the valves freeze in one position, and the crankshaft continues to rotate by inertia, moving the pistons up to contact. Most often this ends up damaging the valves and pistons themselves, but the cylinder head, crankshaft and even the cylinder block can also be affected. In short, a broken belt can lead to very costly repairs – although in some engines the pistons have special notches that exclude contact with the valve pads. In that case, all the damage can come down to the belt itself.

A timing belt failure can lead to very costly engine repairs.

How to understand that it is necessary to change the timing belt

It is not easy to visually assess the condition of the belt – in most cars it is hidden under the shroud, and disassembly is required. But if the engine starts to run unevenly, it may be one of the true symptoms. Also ticking and clicking noises from under the hood, smoke from the exhaust pipe and oil or coolant leakage from under the hood can serve as indirect symptoms. All this does not necessarily indicate the wear of the timing belt, but requires an early diagnosis in the service.

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It is more correct to be guided by the mileage of the car, as well as the time elapsed since the last belt replacement. These figures vary greatly not only depending on the brand of car, but also on the model of its engine, the range is 50-150 thousand kilometers or 5-10 years of service. This table gives a few examples taken from factory recommendations.

Model Service life, thousand km
Lada Vesta 90 000
Renault Logan 90 000
Volkswagen Polo 75 000
Audi A4 120 000
Chery Tiggo 5 60 000
Mitsubishi Outlander 90 000
Volvo S60 120 000
Subaru Forester 100 000
Range Rover Evoque 130 000

In addition, many modern timing gears are not driven by a reinforced rubber belt, but by a metal chain – the list of brands with such engines includes UAZ, Hyundai, Kia, Toyota, BMW, Mazda and others. The chain is much less susceptible to wear and lasts from 150,000 miles – and some manufacturers claim that no replacement will be needed for the entire life of the car.

Many modern timing gears are not driven by a reinforced rubber belt, but by a metal chain.” />

Many modern timing gears are not driven by a reinforced rubber belt, but by a metal chain. (Photo: Shutterstock)

How to change a timing belt

Self-replacement of the timing belt is a very time-consuming procedure that requires a partial disassembly of the engine and attachments, as well as involving several subtle points – in particular, the exact alignment of the marks on the pulleys and the correct adjustment of the tensioner. Therefore, it is not recommended to do it without steady skills – the consequences can be fatal for the engine.

It is better to apply to official or authorized service – the more so, that at many companies replacement of a timing belt is included into the list of planned works at a regimented maintenance. Prices usually range from 10 to 30 thousand rubles, including spare parts, and the whole procedure takes a few hours.

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It is highly undesirable to save on spare parts. Firstly, they must be original, and secondly, it is necessary to change the whole kit: depending on the engine and factory regulations, it includes the belt itself, one or more rollers, bolts and the coolant pump.

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Without steady skills to change the timing belt by yourself is not recommended – the consequences can be fatal for the engine. (Photo: Shutterstock)

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