Cheap maintenance can prevent expensive repairs, Case study: broken timing belt

Cheap maintenance can prevent expensive repairs, Case study: broken timing belt



Special thanks to all of you who have written in and called. We appreciate your feedback as well as all the questions. A number of readers have contacted us to discuss an important issue about vehicle maintenance: the timing belt.


What is a timing belt?

The timing belt drives the camshaft on our engines and without it, the engine no longer works. Some engines do use a timing chain which never needs to be replaced, however the timing belt for most Asian import vehicles, is to be replaced at 105k miles or 105 months as time can cause as much deterioration as miles will.

The reason the timing belt must be replaced, which is located inside the engine, is simple. Today’s engines are designed with less clearances and higher power. This produces smaller displacement engines, for better fuel economy, as well as increased power. These engines use a timing belt to provide a quieter engine and valvetrain. With the tighter clearances, these engines for the most part, are known as an interference engine.


Timing belt breaks: best case scenario

If the timing belt is not replaced when the service schedule requires it, the timing belt could break causing the pistons to collide with the valves in the open position. If this happens, the best-case scenario would be removing the cylinder head and inspecting for bent or broken valves. It’s a major repair ($900-2000) but it can be fixed.


Timing belt breaks: worst case scenario

In the worst case scenario, bent valves can sometimes punch a hole in one or more pistons with the potential for damage to the cylinder head, camshaft and cylinder walls. When this occurs, the engine is useless and will need to be replaced or completely overhauled. Which scenario happens is dependent on how fast the vehicle was moving and the engine RPM’s at the time of the timing belt breaking.


Cheap maintenance can prevent expensive repairs

Long story short, please replace your timing belt when you service schedule says to. This maintenance can cost anywhere from $200-750 but it is far less expensive than the repair cost if it breaks, especially while driving.

I hope this information has been useful and a simple reminder that cheap maintenance can prevent expensive repairs.

We hope this information has been helpful for all.


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