Let’s Talk Timing Belts and Chains

 

A timing belt story with a happy ending

A customer has a nice little Honda Accord.  He brought it in because he was going to take a road trip and drive down the Highway 101 to California.  We discussed the timing belt. He decided to go ahead and replace the belt. We took the timing cover off and found that the belt was actually shredding inside the cover, and barely hanging together.

Based on the look of how that belt was shredding, he had a really high chance of that belt breaking while he was on the road.  We are so glad he decided to have this service done before he got out on the road!

Why are timing belt jobs so important?

This job really has to do with how and where the timing belt is located under the hood. What you have to do is remove the timing cover and then the belt in order to see and assess the state of the belt.

We know this is a big job, and it’s on the spendy side in terms of maintenance too. So we do something a little bit special here: we put a sticker on the cover in the engine compartment noting when it was done here at this shop. Now, not every shop dealership does that.

If you had this service done somewhere else, we are happy to put a sticker up for them, based on the paperwork. So if a customer has their records and says, “Oh I just had that done last month,” we’ll definitely want to note that on the cover since there’s no other way to be able to tell. As we mentioned before, the timing belt is down in the workings of the car and has a cover to protect it. You can’t just pop the hood and be able to tell the state of the timing belt just by looking.

What else needs to get done once you’re sure you’re getting your timing belt replaced? You’ll want to maximize the work that gets done once you’re down in that part of the vehicle. This includes replacing the water pump, camshaft seals,  crankshaft seals, and serpentine belts.

You’ll want to consider replacing all of the tensioners and the idlers when replacing a timing belt too. Both have an influence and affect the timing as well. The risk that you take is if you don’t replace them when you do the timing belt, if it goes bad in a month or two, you’re going to be paying for the time to get down into that part of the vehicle again.

Timing belts and how they age

Most manufacturers advise based on mileage and time. Belts are usually made from reinforced rubber with tripled fibers. These, when they wear out will usually tear before they crack.

What about timing chains?

Here’s a surprising thing about timing chains: Your oil (yes, motor oil) is really important for maintaining the timing chain. Keeping the oil in your car as clean as possible is a really important part of maintaining the timing chain, (if your vehicle has one), in addition to the oil performing as a lubricant.

What about timing belts on a used car or truck?

Let’s say that somebody got a car that they’ve bought as new to them, what can they do regarding timing belt or chain knowledge?

Before you purchase the vehicle, you should ask if the timing belt has been replaced. If it has been done, ask for the receipt (and all of the records) for the work.

Now, this is really important: A lot of times people will sell their cars right before the timing belt needs to be replaced. They don’t want to repair it because it’s a big job, right?

And the bad part is, when a timing belt breaks, the damage is… usually pretty severe if it doesn’t completely total the car. You don’t want that situation. If the seller can’t produce a receipt, you really should assume that the work has not been done. No matter how nice the person seems or what they say to convince you. This is an important maintenance job. You want to be proactive and replace the timing belt.

What happens when a timing belt or chain breaks while driving?

Usually, timing belts and chains break while at a higher rate of speed, frequently freeway speed. When a timing belt goes, it pretty much turns the car off without warning and on a lot of vehicles it can bend valves and damage the engine.

Bottom line, if you’re not positive when your timing belt is due to be replaced, find out.  If you’re not sure if it has been done, you should probably do it.

And of course, we are always here to help!

Our Reviews

Tom's Automotive Service
Reviewed from Google

4.7 out of 5 stars

Denny and Jim
Denny and Jim

5 out of 5 stars

posted 1 month ago

I got a flat tire across the street from Tom's Automotive. Although they don't repair tires, they immediately sent over a technician to change my tire. They also filled it with air so I could make it safely to a tire shop, all free of charge. Thanks Adam and the friendly staff at Tom's Automotive for your great service!

Bethany Manahan
Bethany Manahan

5 out of 5 stars

posted 3 months ago

My bosses were the ones that recommended me to see Tom's when I had my 'check engine' light on some time last year. They were very helpful, and kindly, turned the light off as there wasn't anything particularly wrong with my car. However, recently, my car was being looked at by them (as I've had other things happen to my car), and the staff helped me walk through the process of either furthering the fix or getting rid of my car. As someone who doesn't know anything about cars (oh boy), they really did a great job of explaining things to me. Thanks!

TJ Rawlinson
TJ Rawlinson

5 out of 5 stars

posted 1 month ago

I had a great experience with Tom's. We had a good dialog, lots of great communication, and I am happy with the work done. Prices were as expected and no work was done that didn't need to be. I will be going back as needed.

Michael Mizell
Michael Mizell

5 out of 5 stars

posted 1 month ago

I always take both my company vehicle and personal vehicles directly over to Tom's whenever I need issues taken care of...except for that one time I had to change a headlight in my Yukon. After struggling with trying to figure out how to take it out, I watched a YouTube video and followed all the steps. It turns out that you cannot simply take the headlight casing out, but you need to take the grill off first, then take the wheel well liner off (which I successfully completed) and then there is a hidden screw that needs to be removed. You cannot see this screw because it is tucked away behind the frame, and a standard socket wrench head is too large and will not work to remove. Feeling defeated, I called Tracy. He said to come on by and they took the screws out for me and helped replacing the headlight. I told him I wanted to at least pay something for the service but he refused to accept anything. These guys have always been good to me, and I appreciate their hard work and honesty.

Kt McVeigh
Kt McVeigh

5 out of 5 stars

posted 1 month ago

They were very professional and helpful at all times - even when I didn't have time to use their services before I headed out of town, Casey spoke with me on the phone for upwards of 15 minutes to figure out what was wrong with my car, so I could get help elsewhere. Really stand-up place!