North Hills Auto Discusses the Importance of Timing Belt Maintenance
What Is An Engine Timing Belt?
In many engines, a timing belt synchronizes the rotation of the crankshaft with that of the camshaft(s). The purpose is to keep the movement of the pistons in harmony with the opening and closing of the intake and exhaust valves. Most timing belts are made of rubber reinforced with fiberglass or Kevlar fibers. One side of the belt is smooth and the other contains teeth or cleats that mesh with the crank and camshaft sprockets. Over time, high temperatures, stress, and fluid contamination will cause the belt to weaken, either producing cracks in the teeth or stretching the length of the belt. If the belt breaks or stretches the engine will become incapacitated, many times with catastrophic damage. Damage to valves, pistons, engine block and even cylinder heads will become very expensive.
Think of the timing belt as similar to the belt that drives the alternator or A/C compressor, except that it is far more important. When the serpentine belt begins to look cracked, brown or shiny, the time has come to change it. While the engine serpentine belt (also known as an accessory drive belt) has a limited life, the engine timing-belt has specific mileage and or age limits and the interval is listed in the vehicle owners or maintenance manual. Usually, the vehicle manufacturer will recommend changing the water pump, front engine seals, and the timing belt tensioner at the same time in order to save on redundant labor costs.
This repair should be understood as preventive maintenance, and completed before the timing belt has broken or worn to the point where the engine suffers damage. If the timing belt is ignored it will break or stretch to the point where the engine “jumps” time leaving your car stranded by the side of the road awaiting a tow truck. The best alternative is to bring it to North Hills, set an appointment and have the belt replaced by a specialist before serious damage to the engine valves and pistons occurs. Improper installation of a timing-belt can also cause damage. This repair is not for the novice.
For more information, please read about our Timing Belt Service, or...