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Timing Belt Change – Watch Out For The Warning Signs Of A Damaged Timing Belt! 


Drivers need to know the importance of when to undergo a timing belt change to keep their engine running at a high level. By recognizing the importance and function of this part in your vehicle, you can ensure that you keep an eye and ear out for any symptoms of a damaged or failed timing belt. 

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Let’s look at the timing belt’s main function, the recommended maintenance interval for this part, the signs and symptoms of a damaged timing belt, the causes of a failed timing belt, and the overall replacement cost for a timing belt change.  

What is the timing belt?

The timing belt is a rubber belt that synchronizes the actions of both the camshaft and the crankshaft to keep your valves safely moving and keep your engine in good condition. If the timing belt that is a key part of the internal combustion engine is broken, this can cause the broken timing belt to destroy the engine. 

Timing Belt Function

As we know, the car’s timing belt is crucial in making sure that the main parts of the engine and the transmission all run in sync together. Although this part is often very overlooked, and this mechanism is only a small piece of rubber, this is key to holding the engine valves open and closing them at the right intervals. The opening and closing of the engine valves are crucial in making sure that the engine gets the right amount of fuel and air mixture.

Timing Belt Change Time Period

Similar to other moving parts, there is a set period after which your specific car’s manufacturer will recommend a timing belt change. Since the time scale can be longer in comparison to other parts during maintenance periods, make sure you know the symptoms of when it is time for a timing belt change. 

  • A failed timing belt is a very expensive replacement since it works directly with your engine. The cost of ignoring a broken timing belt is irreversible engine damage. Make sure you know when to undergo a timing belt change to fix any long-lasting side effects. 
  • Since the timing belt is centrally located, the replacement often means other parts will need to be removed, repaired, or potentially replaced. This is why a timing belt change is more expensive than you might think.
  • To prevent extensive damage, you need to make sure that your timing belt is inspected. Ensure you undergo a timing belt change at the recommended intervals by your manufacturer, with the part often changed between 40,000 and 60,000 miles. If you do not do regular maintenance, the broken timing belt can destroy your engine. 

Signs It Is Time For a Timing Belt Change

Timing belts sometimes do not provide a lot of signs and symptoms before they go bad. A failed timing belt might show small symptoms, make quiet sounds, or might just suddenly break in your car. The damage is often due to wear in the timing belt from not paying for a timing belt change. 


You or your mechanic can do a visual check of the timing belt in your vehicle to see if there is any visible damage, cracking, glazing, or oil contamination. In addition, you can have a mechanic check the belt to make sure that the timing belt change does not need to be carried out immediately. 


In case you are not convinced of the importance of a timing belt change, here are a few signs and symptoms to look out for, which could point to further issues with your timing belt. Any additional issues point towards a full timing belt change and replacement in your vehicle – before it harms your engine beyond repair. 

Trouble Starting Your Car

First, you might start to find regular issues in your car that can creep up during the vehicle’s standard performance. A failed timing belt will mean that the car will not start correctly and will not come to a full stop. If you are having trouble starting and stopping your vehicle on time and quickly, it is time for a timing belt change.

Squeaking Noises

Second, a symptom of a broken timing belt that can destroy your engine is that you hear squeaking noises coming from the area of the timing belt covering the engine. This is a sure sign that the belt is starting to give way and has become damaged over time, and has been placed under stress for prolonged use. In this case, a replacement could be necessary to prevent the broken timing belt from destroying your engine. 

Engine Sounds Quicker 

In addition, another sign that your broken timing belt can destroy your engine is that your engine will all of a sudden start to sound as though it is running at a much faster rate than normal, even when you're moving at slow speeds or when your car is rough idling

  • The broken timing belt means the flywheels are not encountering enough resistance during their rotation to power the engine. If you find the flywheel is not operating properly, it is time for a timing belt change in your vehicle. 

Engine Misfiring

Another sign it is time for a timing belt change is the misfiring of the engine. The engine’s fire rate could be put in jeopardy from the timing belt and the teeth wearing out over time. 

  • If the timing chain slips away from the gears, the cylinders could open and close too soon, causing the engine misfire to occur. 
  • If your engine is misfiring, you may also have fouled spark plugs. In this case, it costs between $100 and $300 to replace the spark plugs in your car. 

Timing Belt Snaps

Another symptom of your broken timing belt is that you are not getting any warning signs for your engine, but the timing belt can simply snap. A fully-broken belt can destroy your engine, causing the machine to lose all power. Although some cars can be driven for short distances after the timing belt snaps, driving without undergoing a timing belt change can harm the engine beyond repair.

Metal Chain Shows Signs of Failure

Lastly, if your car is fitted with a timing chain instead of a timing belt, a metal chain will show more noticeable signs of failure than a rubber belt. In this case, it will be easier to see your timing belt will destroy your engine. The metal chain will begin to rattle during use and is a sure sign that it is not properly tensioned and needs an immediate timing belt change. 

Causes of Timing Belt Failure

When figuring out when it is necessary for a timing belt change, you need to know the main causes of this damage in your vehicle. Knowing the signs and symptoms to watch out for is crucial – however, preventing these signs from happening in the first place can help you keep the replacement prices as low as possible. 


Misalignment is one of the main causes of the timing belt drive failure and can increase the frequency of your timing belt change. 

  • Excessive or uneven tooth wear on the timing belt, the belt tracking and tensile failure, and tensile damage can all be attributed to misalignment of the timing belt. 
    • The two main types of timing belt misalignment are parallel, which means the river and the driven shafts are parallel, but the drive and the timing belt pulleys on the shafts are in different areas. 
    • The second type of alignment is angular misalignment, meaning the driver and driven shafts are not parallel in alignment. 
  • This misalignment of the timing belt can cause improper tension, tracking problems, and an increased need for a timing belt change. 

Excessive Load

If the timing belt teeth are shearing, the excessive load can be the reason behind the shearing cause and the damage on the belt. 

  • Tensile failure and excessive tooth wear can be caused by too much load, shock loads, or other reasons that can damage the belt. 
    • To cure this common issue of the timing belt, you will have to redesign the drive to prevent the belt from destroying your engine. 
  • Excessive load can be caused by too much weight, debris in the drive system, or a damaged pulley that has caused a broken timing belt. 
    • To fix this issue, you will need to check the horsepower rating and redesign the drive of the belt. 

Under-Tensioned Belt

An under-tensioned timing belt in your car can also be prone to ratcheting, meaning the teeth are skipping on the belt. 

  • Under tensioning in the timing belt can cause excessive or uneven wear on the teeth can cause excessive drive noise. 
    • To fix this issue and prevent the need for a frequent timing belt change, you need to set the proper tension on the timing belt with a gauge.
  • Another cause of an under-tensioned belt could be misalignment and bearing wear, leading the timing belt to track off-center. 
    • This can cause the timing belt to wear too quickly and cause the tensioner and the idler pulley bearings to cause the pulleys to spin with binding, roughness, and wobbling during use. 

Weak Drive Structure

If your drive and your timing belt are vibrating too much or you think that your timing belts are stretched too much from apparent belt stretch and a lack of tautness in the system, this can be the culprit of a weak drive structure in your timing belt mechanism. 

Damaged Pulleys

Damaged or worn timing pulleys that affect your timing belt can substantially reduce the timing belt life and increase the need for a timing belt change. 

  • Worn teeth will cause belt and damage to your belt and potentially the engine. 
  • A broken timing belt can occur by the straight cord line rupture, meaning the belt was crimped before it was fit in the system. 
  • A worn-down belt can also happen when the raffled cord line rupture occurs. In this case, the foreign objects inserted between the belt and the pulley can break the tensile cord.
  • Lastly, the belt can be twisted or turned inside out before fitting or forced on the pulley. This twisting of the material can cause a worn pulley and the need for a timing belt change. 

Timing Belt Change and Failure

Timing belts must be replaced by the car owner at specific intervals recommended by the car manual or by the mechanic who frequently works on the car. 


The maintenance interval is usually based on a certain time period or recommended distance. Failure to replace the timing belt can result in wear and tear, misuse, breakdown, or catastrophic engine failure. 


The owner’s manual maintenance interval schedule for a timing belt change in their car is usually between 30,000 and 50,000 miles


In addition, many car owners will replace the timing chain tensioner at the same time the belt is replaced, reducing the overall labor cost for this procedure. Sometimes the coolant pump is also replaced to save on the overall replacement prices. 

Timing Belt Change Replacement Cost 

The average price for a timing belt change replacement for most car makes and models is between $370 and $1500 depending on the severity of the issues and other internal concerns. If you plan to replace the timing chain on your own, you will need to find the correct procedure and steps to fix it. You can usually find these step-by-step instructions by looking at the service manual in your vehicle.

  • To avoid timing belt problems, you should keep up to date with your engine maintenance and have the oil changed at the recommended intervals. 
  • For older vehicles with a pushrod mechanism, car owners can try doing the timing belt change on their own. 
    • For newer cars with a modern front-wheel-drive structure, it is best to bring your vehicle to a mechanic so they can perform the timing belt change. 

The Bottom Line

Figuring out the recommended maintenance interval for a timing belt change in your specific vehicle can help you keep your engine running safely and prevent unnecessary replacement costs for your car! 

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