How Do You Know If The Timing Belt Needs To Be Replaced?

The timing belt in your vehicle makes sure that all of the valves open and close at the correct intervals while the engine is running. In a nutshell, it keeps the valves in correct timing with the piston's movement. It's easy to see then why having a properly functioning timing belt is so important to your car. Having it snap will cause your car to stall out at best, and cause severe damage to the pistons and cylinders at worst. Thankfully, there are some warning signs to let you know you need to get it looked at.

First, Make Sure Your Vehicle Has a Timing Belt

Keep in mind that timing belts are not present in most newer cars. Most cars now (barring some manufacturer exceptions like Audi) use timing chains that should last for the life of the engine. In general, timing belts should be replaced every 5 years or 60,000 miles, whichever comes first. Check your owner's manual to verify the maintenance schedule. This will let you know for certain if you have a belt or a chain.

Know the Symptoms of a Bad Belt

There aren't many symptoms that indicate your timing belt needs to be replaced without a visual inspection. However, some common symptoms include your engine stalling at odd times for apparently no reason. If you have trouble starting your car and the battery and starter are fine, this can also be a timing belt issue. You may also see oil leakage from the front of the motor. This oil leak may be coming from the timing belt cover and can lead to early timing belt failure. (Regardless, a significant oil leak warrants a trip to your mechanic, no matter what.)

Make Sure to Visually Inspect It

The best way to tell if the timing belt is going bad is to visually inspect it. The belt may appear a little stretched out or slightly glazed. The belt may seem thinner or have the inner filaments exposed. These are all signs that you should change the timing belt on your car. Your mechanic will be able to tell almost immediately if your timing belt should be replaced.

If you suspect that your car's timing belt needs replaced, it's far better to be proactive and ask a trusted mechanic, such as Checkered Flag Imports Inc, to take a look for you. It only takes a few minutes for him to use a camera to inspect it. That half hour can save you a lot of hassle and potentially save you a lot of money on costly piston and cylinder repairs.