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Why Replace Your Timing Belt?
Timing belts have replaced timing chains
on many of today's engines. Not to be confused with “V-belts”
or “Serpentine belts”, which are located on the outside
of the motor to drive accessories, timing belts perform a much more
Rich Diegle, Automotive Editor
purpose of a timing belt is to provide a connection between the
camshaft and crankshaft to ensure that the pistons and valves operate
together in proper sequence. Timing belts have proven to be lighter,
quieter and more efficient than chains, but those benefits come
at a cost - they require more frequent replacement than chains.
Timing belts are used in two types of engines
designated as "free-running" and "interference".
If the timing belt breaks on a “free-running” design,
the engine will stop and you will need a tow to the repair shop.
There is enough clearance between the pistons and valves so no mechanical
damage usually occurs. The installation of a new belt is usually
all that is needed to get you back on the road.
If the timing belt breaks on an “interference
engine”, mechanical engine damage will occur. Most commonly,
the damage involves the pistons hitting open valves, resulting in
the need for expensive repairs. In extreme cases, replacing the
engine may be required.
Breakage is not the only reason to replace your timing belt. Looseness
and wear can allow the timing belt to slip, resulting in very poor
performance, a no-start condition, or engine damage.
Proper maintenance requires timing belt replacement
at regular intervals – before it breaks or wears out. The
manufacturers provide a replacement schedule and repair information
for this critical component.
How do you know if your vehicle has a timing
belt or when it should be replaced? Check your ALLDATAdiy.com subscription,
or contact us. We have that information and the expertise to keep
your vehicle running strong and trouble-free.