Timing Belt Service
Part 1 of 2
I’ve heard it said that your engine’s timing belt is the most important maintenance item in your car. For several reasons, I’m not sure that I agree, but I would say that if not properly maintained it could end up being the most expensive. Very Expensive. What happens when the timing belt fails? First let’s look at what the timing belt is and does.
What Is A Timing Belt?
In the lower engine, the crankshaft rotates and pushes the pistons through their cycle. The pistons push a mixture of fuel and air compressing it into a space at the top of the cylinder. At the top of the engine, cam shafts roll causing the valves to move open or closed. Intake valves open and the fuel and air mixture is forced into the cylinder where it is compressed and then detonated by the spark plug. The exhaust gases are then pushed out of the cylinder and this sequence is repeated in every cylinder in a specific order. Everything in your engine must run in precision synchronicity or it won’t run properly and if it’s a newer vehicle, it won’t run at all. So what does the timing belt have to do with that? It’s sort of like a symphony conductor. It is a ribbed belt that connects the rotation of the crank and camshafts, keeping them in proper time. Essentially, it keeps the top half of the engine (cams, rollers, valves) in sync with the bottom half (crank and pistons).
Does My Car Have A Timing Belt?
Okay, now that you have a good idea of what the timing belt is, does your car even have one? Your car has either a timing belt or timing chain, unless it has a rotary engine or electric motor. Some manufacturers, such as Audi and Volkswagen, still use timing belts, but most car makers have changed to using timing chains claiming they will last for the life of the engine. You can determine if you have a timing belt by looking in the owner’s manual or call the shop that cares for your car. If your car does have a timing belt following the replacement schedule is critical.