Timing Belt Service
Part 2 of 2
When Should I Change My Timing Belt?
There are almost as many different change intervals as there are engine models. Depending on make and model there are changes as frequent as every 10,000 miles up to 105,000 miles. The easiest way to know the recommended mileage to replace your timing belt is follow the recommendation in the owner’s manual. Several times, in the course of replacing a timing belt, we have found broken timing components, very loose belts and failing water pumps. You may want to consider having your timing belt replaced before the recommended mileage just to be safe. A timing component failure can cause catastrophic engine damage. The video below is a 2006 Audi A8 in for belt replacement at 81,862 miles. That’s right at 23,000 before the recommended interval. Notice how loose the belt is. This was a disaster about to happen. If the belt had come off, broken or even just slipped on the sprockets, the engine would have been severely damaged and repairing it would have been very expensive.
What Will Happen If My Timing Belt Breaks?
There’s a good possibility your mechanic will say “Why didn’t you get that replaced when I told you?” Then it depends on whether or not your car has an interference engine or non-interference engine.
If you have a non-interference engine, generally there is no additional damage because the valves and pistons are far enough apart that they do not strike each other. If you’re fortunate, the belt gets changed, the timing gets set and you’re on your way. If you own a car from 2000 or newer it is highly unlikely that you have a non-interference engine.
Interference engines have valves and pistons that move in and out of a shared space in the cylinder. The timing belt is what keeps them from moving into that space at the same time. When the timing belt breaks or slips the components are no longer in sync and collide. These collisions can cause severe damage to the valves, camshafts, pistons, cylinder head and possibly even the engine block. It is usually quicker and cost comparative to just replace the damaged engine with a remanufactured one. There is always the chance that an interference engine might escape with only minor or no damage, but not much of one. Even if it does, finding out can be as expensive as just replacing the engine.
How Much Will It Cost To Change My Timing Belt?
The cost of replacing the timing belt and associated components varies by car. Where applicable we recommend you replace the tensioner(s), guides and water pump at the same time. It would be foolish not to and then one of these parts fail requiring the same service to be repeated or worse. In some cars, this service will run more than a $1000.00 but it’s much better than having to replace an engine.