Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Timing Belt: Warning Signs to Replace Your Car Timing Belt

23 September 2020
autofixablog
Tags :

GET IN TOUCH

Need a part to fix a problem or upgrade your vehicle? We’ve made it easy to find & fit the exact part you need.

FIND IT

  • As a general rule of maintenance, cars that have reached the 70,000 - 100,000-mile range should be considered for a timing belt replacement.
  • There are some surefire warning signs you should look out for that could indicate that your timing belt is about to fail: this includes ticking noises, car not starting, piston misfires, exhaust smoke, excess vibrations and oil leaks.
  • Most cars will have a labour cost of £250 to £500 to replace a timing belt at a professional shop. If you’re mechanically inclined and willing to invest the time to do the work yourself, you can save a lot of money on a timing belt replacement by only paying for the belt itself.
Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Timing Belt: Warning Signs to Replace Your Car Timing Belt The timing belt on your vehicle is an important part and one that can lead to costly damage if not replaced promptly and effectively. As a general rule of maintenance, cars that have reached the 70,000 - 100,000-mile range should be considered for a timing belt replacement, in order to avoid costly repairs that could result from a timing belt breaking while you are driving the vehicle. Of course, regardless of the mileage on your car, there are some definite symptoms and warning signs that you should take very seriously, because they could indicate that your timing belt is starting to fail. Keep reading to learn more about your timing belt and how to watch for indications that it might need replacement.  What Is the Timing Belt? Your car’s timing belt is primarily responsible for making sure that the pistons fire correctly by controlling the opening and closing of the valves between the crankshaft and the camshaft. When the belt begins to fail, the valves won’t close properly, and the pistons will misfire, which can cause immediate and expensive engine damage in many cases.  In serious cases, the entire engine (or parts of it) may need to be rebuilt as a result of a timing belt that fails while you are driving. An engine rebuild can potentially cost several thousand pounds, and depending on the age of your car, it might not even be worth the investment (because of the mileage, condition, or other factors). To avoid this, have your car looked at as soon as you notice any of the warning signs discussed below.  Symptoms of a Failing Timing Belt No two cars are the same, but the timing belt serves the same function in every vehicle that has one. Therefore, there are some surefire warning signs that could indicate that your timing belt is about to fail. If you notice any of these, get to a mechanic as soon as possible and don’t drive your vehicle until it is looked at. 
  • Ticking Noises: There is a system of pulleys that is responsible for holding the timing belt in place and allowing it to operate properly. When your timing belt starts to wear, a ticking noise might be heard coming from the motor. This could also be an indication of low oil pressure or poor lubrication, but you should still visit a mechanic to have this issue diagnosed immediately.
 
  • Car Not Starting: In the event the timing belt has completely broken, your vehicle’s engine won’t turn over at all. You will probably turn the key, hear a “click,” and then nothing. You might notice the starter motor engage, but the engine will not turn over since the belt is broken. 
 
  • Piston Misfires: These are less noticeable to the average driver, but can result in excess smoke and engine damage. If a timing belt is too worn, the engine won’t fire properly. This could result in serious damage to valves, push rods, rocker arms, and other engine parts that could lead to the need for expensive and complicated repairs.
 
  • Exhaust Smoke: If there is smoke coming from your tailpipe, it means the engine isn’t burning fuel properly. This could be the result of the valves not opening and closing like they should, due to a timing belt that is stretched or worn. Whether it needs a timing adjustment or a full replacement, it needs immediate attention.
 
  • Excess Vibrations: If the timing is off on your engine, there could be an increased amount of shaking or vibration coming from the engine. This can result from having bad spark plugs, but it can also be a sign of a timing belt issue. If your spark plugs are in good repair, you need to check your timing belt as soon as possible.
 
  • Oil Leaks: If you notice oil leaking on the front of the motor, it could be coming from the timing belt cover or the gasket that is between the timing cover and the engine block. This could be a sign of a wearing belt, or the leaking could lead to engine overheating and cause premature wear to the belt. Either way, it needs repair immediately. 
Important: Timing Belts Can Fail with No Warning While any or all of these symptoms could point to a failing or broken timing belt, it is important to note that timing belts may fail without any warning at all. Some drivers don’t experience any warning signs until they are stalled out on the side of the road and their car simply won't start. At this point, it may be too late to prevent costly engine damage, which is why many professionals recommend that vehicles with a timing belt have them replaced as part of routine maintenance between 70,000 and 100,000 miles. Timing Belt Replacements Are Costly Even without considering the potential engine damage caused by driving with a failing timing belt, the cost to replace a timing belt is quite high. Although the part itself is relatively inexpensive, the labour involved requires accessing hard-to-reach areas and taking apart a lot of components to reach and properly replace the timing belt. Therefore, most cars will have a labour cost of £250 to £500 to replace a timing belt at a professional shop. If you’re mechanically inclined and willing to invest the time to do the work yourself, you can save a lot of money on a timing belt replacement by only paying for the belt itself or a timing belt replacement kit. Bear in mind, however, that this is not an easy job and not for the novice home mechanic. You can also choose to purchase timing belt kits on your own to secure a cheaper price, and then hire a local mechanic or auto service that offers more affordable labor when you provide the parts. Understanding the Replacement Process To replace the timing belt in your car, the mechanic will need to access the timing cover, which may require the removal of any number of engine components and accessories. Once the cover has been removed, they will be able to see the timing belt itself, as well as the pulleys and other parts of the system, including the water pump. Note: If you’re experiencing related symptoms or have higher mileage, it might be in your best interest to save labour costs by replacing the water pump at the same time as your timing belt. Once the mechanic has access to the area, they will begin systematically removing the old timing belt, tensioners, and pulleys, and then replacing them with new parts. Once the parts have been replaced, the timing cover can be reattached. Then, the mechanic will replace any accessories and components that were moved to access the timing belt and fire up the engine to test the replacement work. If a timing belt replacement has been done properly, the engine should idle and run smoothly, with no lags, vibrations, ticking noises, or other issues that were present before the repair.  Timing Belt Replacement Kits: What You Need to Know Typically, the timing belt itself is not the only part that needs replacement. Despite how they look, it is often better to replace the tensioner and pulleys at the same time to ensure that they don’t fail later on down the road. Timing belt kits are available that include all of the pulleys and tensioners for your car’s timing belt system, and are sold by model and engine size. Some combination kits will also include a water pump and necessary gaskets and accessories to replace that component. When you choose a qualified mechanic, they will be able to diagnose the problem and tell you whether you need a timing belt only, or whether you should replace every related component to protect your vehicle’s engine. Bear in mind that by purchasing timing belt replacement kits, you can save a lot of money on parts and get everything upgraded at once to get more life out of your vehicle.  At a shop, they’re going to charge you individually for all the parts and components that they provide for replacement or repair. This can add up quickly, so you should really consider your alternative options like buying your parts and hiring a mechanic that can do the work for you. Not all shops will allow you to provide parts, so be sure to check on that ahead of time. Timing Really IS Everything When it comes to a safe, operational vehicle, a properly functioning timing belt is essential. The cars that have timing belts need them to be in proper condition to operate the engine and keep it running smoothly. Without a properly functioning timing belt, you could experience any number of issues, including total engine failure. While some minor car repairs might not be as pressing, if you are noticing any early symptoms of a failing timing belt, you need to have the problem diagnosed and repaired as soon as possible. Early repairs with timing belt replacement kits will save you a fortune on bigger repairs down the road. For all of your OEM replacement part needs, count on the team at Autofixa. With a full inventory of original manufacturer parts that are guaranteed and warrantied for your protection, we help people find and fit parts to their vehicles quickly, easily and with 100% confidence.   Resources https://www.autoblog.com/2019/06/14/symptoms-of-a-bad-or-failing-timing-belt/ https://www.fixter.co.uk/blog/water-pump-timing-belt-cost/

More Insights

autofixablog
autofixablog