When to Replace a Timing Belt - How to Know When to Replace a Timing Belt Video
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Video:How to Know When to Replace a Timing Belt

with Nick Jaynes

Learn how to know when to replace a timing belt in your car, before it's too late.See Transcript

Transcript:How to Know When to Replace a Timing Belt

Hi I'm Nick Jaynes from DownForce Motoring for About.com and this how to know when to change a timing belt. I'll be using information found on About.com's auto repair guide site.

Facts About Knowing When to Replace a Timing Belt in a Car

Most people are aware of their car's timing belt but few understand what it does and why it's so important to replace at the correct manufacturer specified intervals. Depending on your car, the timing belt will be called for replacement anywhere from 15-100 thousand miles. To see a database for many common timing belt replacement intervals, please visit the About.com auto repair guide site or reference your car's owner's manual. If for some reason you can't find the recommended replacement intervals for your car's timing belt, or you don't know when it was last changed, you can perform a visual inspection.

Visual Inspection of a Car's Timing Belt

The quickest way to see if your timing belt needs replacement is if there are visual cracks. However this is not a sure-fire way to determine belt life. Some belts that are over-due for replacement and are ready to break sometimes don't show visual signs of fatigue.The timing belt on the car connects the crankshaft at the bottom of the engine with the camshafts at the top in the cylinder head. The timing belt ensures they move together at the same time.

Facts About Timing Belts

Timing belts are made of very strong materials but if ignored, will eventually break. This can cause one of two scenarios.On what are called interference motors like on this Volvo 850, the valves in your engine share the same space as the piston. But with the correct timing and movements, never come into contact.On non-interference motors like this Volvo 240, the valves and piston are never at risk of collision and have their own separate space within the combustion chamber. If your timing belt were to break on your non-interference motor, you'd be simply left by the side of the road, unable to run your engine.

If the timing belt breaks on your interference motor, however, you could suffer catastrophic engine damage. This occurswhen the timing belt breaks as the engine is turning over, the camshafts stop moving thereby leaving the valves frozen in space. The pistons, however, are still moving, and will quickly collide with the valves. This can bend or break the valves -- or worse yet, the piston.

Rebuilding your cylinder head and or replacing your pistons can cost upwards of $5,000. Compare that to replacing your timing belt, which can cost anywhere from a hundred to several hundred dollars, and you can see why timing belt maintenance is so important. Thanks for watching. If you'd like to learn more, please find us on the web at About.com.
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