How to Maintain a Car's Timing Belt

Chrome and black engine display outside of a vehicle.

A car’s timing belt is a reinforced rubber band with hard teeth or notches on the inner side that synchronizes the movement of the crankshaft and camshaft, ensuring that the valves open and close at the right time during each cylinder’s intake and exhaust strokes.

If a car’s timing belt breaks, the engine stops working. The crankshaft continues to spin while the camshaft stops rotating. As a result, the pistons continue to rise and fall and can hit the valves.

A broken timing belt can cause severe (even irreversible) damage to the engine. If you drive with a broken timing belt, your car can break down unexpectedly in the middle of nowhere, and you may have to get your vehicle towed, which can be an expensive affair.

Timing Belts vs. Timing Chains

Some cars have timing belts, while others utilize timing chains. Timing chains are usually heavier, louder, and more durable than timing belts. A timing chain may need less maintenance than a timing belt.

Why Do Timing Belts Break?

The most common cause of timing belt damage is regular wear and tear. The timing belt is made of rubber. Rubber stretches when exposed to heat. When the engine overheats, it can cause the rubber to develop cracks.

Some other causes of timing belt failure include misalignment, weak drive structure usually caused by an excessively vibrating drive belt, damaged or worn pulleys, debris in the timing pulley or drive, and an under-tensioned belt. Some signs of timing belt failure include starting problems, small cracks throughout the timing belt, and engine misfires.

Your timing belt technician near you, like GreenTech Automotive, recommends timing belts be replaced every 60k-100k miles.

Timing Belt Maintenance Tips

Like every other part of your car, wear and tear over time will take a toll on your vehicle's timing belt and ultimately need to be replaced. However, with care and regular maintenance, you can ensure it only wears after expected.

Keep an eye out for signs that your timing belt is worn out and needs replacement. Typical examples include overheating, decreased engine power, the check engine light coming on, vibrations while the engine is running, and squealing or ticking noises from under the hood. Have your mechanic check your timing belt at regular intervals.

At GreenTech Automotive, we strive to provide cost-effective solutions to car problems. Our pros have extensive experience servicing different types of cars. To schedule timing belt replacement near you in Santa Rosa, call (707) 545-7076.