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When to Replace a Timing Belt

Yash Gode

Timing belts are car components which often have problems. For the proper functioning of the car and its engine, periodic replacement of the timing belt is necessary. However, how does one determine its lifespan? This write-up provides the answer.
Someone had said that 'life is all about timing', and this even applies to machines. For any vehicle model of any manufacturer, the timing chain or belt is among those auto parts, which serve a very important purpose in the vehicle for a very long time. And if any problem crops up, it is better to get a replacement done.
Four stroke engines are designed in such a way that, the intake valves open at the start of the first revolution and close at the end of it. Similarly, the exhaust valve will open at the start of the fourth revolution and close at the end of it, before the intake valve opens again.
This synchronization is entirely controlled by the timing belt, and it, therefore, plays an important role, by synchronizing the camshaft with the crankshaft.

Determining When to Change the Timing Belt

There are some noticeable symptoms that the car displays, which can help you to come to a decision. One of the best ways to check out for any sign of problems in your timing belt is to open the hood and check it out for yourself. However, there are some indirect signals that should be looked out for.

Excessive Exhaust Emission

A problem-causing timing belt can ruin the functioning of a car's engine, and cause excessive emission of exhaust smoke. This is caused when the belt fails to synchronize the closing of exhaust valve. This leads to unused gases being released through the exhaust. So, if you notice this sign, pay attention and consider the problem.

Hassled Starting of the Vehicle

If you have a problem with starting a car, the timing belt may be malfunctioning. There are many other car problems that can cause this symptom and hence it may be ambiguous. Nevertheless, if you regularly face this problem, then get the belt checked.

Overheating and Leaking Engine

Extreme temperatures in the engine or hot weather can cause damage to the timing belt, which is mainly made of rubber. As a result, the engine does not work in synchronization, and can overheat followed by leakage. In such cases, one is left with no option but to consider the time when to replace timing belt.

Abrupt Change in Engine Noise

Another symptom which some car drivers might notice is, unusual engine noise caused by the belt. At the slightest inkling, get it checked with an auto service station where a mechanic might suggest to you a time frame, to get a replacement.

Replacement Procedure

Here are some tips or a procedure for one of the easiest ways to replace a timing belt. However, it is strongly advised to take professional help for the purpose. This is surely not a 'do it yourself' procedure and you should go for it only if you have a thorough knowledge of all the vehicle parts and are carrying it out under expert supervision.
  • Let the vehicle cool down to normal temperature and disconnect the car battery from the engine.
  • Detach all the parts that would hinder you while removing the old belt.
  • Now, use a spanner and bring the mark on the crankshaft to the zero timing scale mark on the engine block.
  • Remove the bolts holding the chain and remove its cover. Check the seals of the crankshaft and camshaft, tensioner bearings, and all the zero timing markings. If any of them are damaged, change them immediately, or the new chain will fail in a short time.
  • Now, remove the new chain and adjust the tension according to the specifications of the manufacturer. Connect a new gasket and verify the timing marks.
  • Attach all the other parts that were detached earlier and also reconnect the battery to the engine.
  • Restart the engine and then check if any of the problem symptoms are still present.
Hope all doubts on when to replace timing belt and how its problems can be dealt with are cleared. Trying to mend auto problems yourself can further deteriorate the issue and it is important for you to approach an expert on most auto repairs.