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Will a broken timing belt destroy my engine? – Here’s What You Need To Know

Will a broken timing belt destroy my engine

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. 

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What is the timing belt 


As we know, the car’s timing belt has a crucial and foundational role that plays in making sure that the main parts of the engine and the transmission all keep running together and in sync with one another. Although this part is often very overlooked and neglected, and this mechanism is only a single and small piece of reinforced rubber, this is often neglected even though it is a key part to holding the engine valves open and closing them at the right intervals. This is key to making sure that the engine gets the right amount of fuel and air mixture for the driving conditions that the driver is subjecting it to.


Similar to other moving parts, especially in the engine and the transmission, there is a set period after which your specific car’s manufacturer will recommend that you have the timing belt replaced. Since the time scale can be longer in comparison to other common parts during your regular maintenance, make sure you know the symptoms of when your timing belt might fail, and if a broken timing belt will destroy your engine. 


A failed timing belt is a very expensive repair or replacement in your car since it works directly with your engine. The cost of ignoring a broken timing belt is that it can destroy your engine, and if you ignore the pre-failure symptoms and the routine maintenance of fixing and maintaining the timing belt, this can be very detrimental to your wallet and to your car. 


Since the timing belt is centrally located in the engine system, the replacement often means that other parts will need to be removed, repaired, or potentially replaced. This is why replacing a timing belt is often times more expensive than you might think, and will be replaced in conjunction with other maintenance or repair jobs.


To prevent extensive damage, you need to make sure that your timing belt is inspected and replaced at the recommended intervals by your specific manufacturer, with the timing often being between 40,000 and 60,000 miles. If you do not do the regular maintenance, the broken timing belt can destroy your engine. 

How to tell if your timing belt is bad


Timing belts sometimes do not provide a lot of signs and symptoms before they go bad and all of a sudden become a broken or completely failed timing belt in your vehicle. They might show some small symptoms, make some quiet sounds, or they might just suddenly break in your car. More often than not, the damage is due to wear in the timing belt. 


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 that has caused the broken timing belt to destroy your engine. Or you can have a mechanic check the belt to make sure that the routine maintenance replacement does not need to be carried out immediately. 

Symptoms of a broken timing belt


In case you are not convinced of the severity of maintaining your timing belt and that a broken timing belt can destroy your engine, here are a few signs and symptoms to look out for which could point to further issues with your timing belt, meaning a replacement is due and potential other replacements in your engine system.


First, you might start to find regular issues in your car that can creep up during the standard performance required of the vehicle. 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, this can mean that the broken timing belt can destroy your engine.


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, and that a replacement could be necessary to prevent the broken timing belt from destroying your engine. 


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 sound will come but since the broken timing belt can mean the flywheels are not encountering enough resistance during their rotation to power the engine. If you realize this is happening in your timing belt, then you need to seek help as soon as possible before the broken timing belt destroys your engine. 


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, and can cause the broken timing belt to destroy your engine hence you will suddenly lose all power from the engine. Although some cars can be driven for short distances after the timing belt snaps, driving on a broken timing belt can destroy your engine. 


Lastly, if your car is fitted with a timing chain instead of a timing belt, a metal chain is likely to display more noticeable signs of failure than a simple rubber belt, and can be easier to indicate that 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 adjustment. 


Now that you know the common signs of a broken timing belt in your car, you need to know that it is crucial to fixing the snapped or damaged timing belt as soon as possible. Although The broken timing belt can be the source of the destroyed engine, there needs to be additional inspection that can determine what other damage has been caused around the engine and the transmission. 


Once you have decided that the timing belt needs replacement, a car might be more susceptible to another identical problem that can cause huge issues in your car. If the replacement belt in your car is fitted too tightly, this can cause a broken timing belt and cause the engine to be destroyed. 

Causes of Timing Belt Failure


There are a list of problems and possible causes that can help you to identify the real reason behind the timing belt failure and the breaking of the timing belt. Make sure you visually examine your timing belt for the main causes of the problems in your engine, as this can help you to prevent your timing belt drivers from grinding to a halt and causing a destroyed engine.



Misalignment is one of the main causes of the timing belt drive failure and can cause a broken timing belt. 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, or angular misalignment, means that the driver and driven shafts are not parallel in alignment. This misalignment of the timing belt can cause improper tension, tracking problems, and a broken timing belt that can destroy the engine. 

Excessive Load


If the timing belt teeth are shearing and wearing down over time, the excessive load is more than likely 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, and can be a result of a lack of tension in the belt itself. 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 broken timing belt destroying your engine, you need to use a tension gauge to set the proper tension on the timing belt. 


An under tensioned belt can be due to 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 is 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. If your drive is vibrating too much or excessive, you might need to reinforce the drive structure to stop the problem and prevent the broken timing belt destroying your engine. 

Damaged or worn pulleys


Damaged or worn timing pulleys that affect your timing belt can substantially reduce the timing belt life and the longevity of the belt. 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. It can also happen when the raffled cord line rupture occurs, where the foreign objects inserted between the belt and the pulley can break the tensile cord and cause the worn pulleys. In addition, the belt can be twisted or turned inside out before fitting or forced on the pulley, causing a worn pulley and causing the broken timing belt to destroy the engine. 


Any nicks or gouges, damage on the pulleys, or any worn pulleys can cut the timing belt and cause the damaged timing belt to destroy the engine, meaning that you need to consistently inspect and replace the pulleys once they show the signs of wear. 

Debris in the timing pulley or drive


Although this is the most overlooked symptom and cause of the broken timing belt, debris can cause various problems that are directly related to a broken timing belt destroying your engine. Dirt and debris on the timing belt teeth can cause the belt to abrade and the oil can also attack and corrode the belt materials. To get the debris and the oil off of the timing belt, use a stiff brush to clean off the rust and dirt on the timing belt.


Make sure that all oil and grease is wiped off and prevents a broken timing belt. Debris can account for any of the above reasons, meaning that you need to clean the timing belt to prevent any damage on the engine. 

Broken timing belt replacement cost 


Replacing a broken timing belt for preventative reasons usually runs between $500 and $900 on average. However, it depends if there are other problems along with the broken timing belt, like if your broken timing belt has destroyed your engine. If it has harmed other parts, it can cost up to $2,000 or more if there is extra damage to the valves, pistons, or water pump. 

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