The internal combustion process is regulated by the timing belt, which governs the positions that the valves and pistons should be at to achieve proper functionality; in other words, the condition, alignment and tension of your timing belt will determine the performance of your engine.
Troubleshooting Timing Belt Issues
Auto service technicians look for the following signs of timing belt trouble when they check you car:
* Tensile Strength: Used cars will sometimes exhibit this issue because of worn or improperly installed timing belts. In some cases, they may detect a crimp on the belt, which can be corrected, and they may be able to readjust a belt that is in good condition to the correct tension.
* Excessive Noise: Timing belts adjusted at excessively high or low tensions often create engine noise such as high pitched squealing. In some cases, the noise may be caused by a damaged pulley that will need to be replaced; in other cases, it may be an issue of misalignment or a worn belt that needs replacement.
* Worn Teeth or Edges: If you purchased a pre-owned Honda Civic or Toyota Supra from a street racer, chances are that the belt was readjusted for performance, and it may have worn out prematurely. Depending on the condition of the belt, the tension can be properly adjusted, but you will eventually need to replace it.
* Missing Teeth: Even though timing belts look like they are fully made of rubber, they are actually reinforced by steel, carbon fiber and even Kevlar. The teeth of timing belts can be as strong as chain links, but they can also become dislodged when the mechanism operates at very low tensions.
* Oil on the Belt: This is a sign of an oil leak, which may require a replacement of seals or gaskets.
When You Should Replace Your Timing Belt
The best approach to timing belt maintenance is to replace it according to the recommended manufacturer’s maintenance schedule, which you can usually find in the owner’s manual of your car. For most vehicles, replacement is recommended after 60,000 miles. If you are getting close to 100,000 miles, you will want to make this service a priority.
You do not want to run the risk of a timing belt snapping at speeds higher than 65 miles per hour. The damage that can be caused by a broken timing belt at high speeds may extend to the water pump, pistons and valves; this situation will result in more expensive repairs unless you drive a Mazda Miata or other models equipped with engines that do not allow pistons striking the fragile valves.
A broken timing belt when you are traveling on the highway can also put you and your passengers at risk, which is why you should pay attention to auto service technicians when they tell you that replacement should be performed immediately.
You certainly do not want to wait until your car suffers a broken timing belt to replace it. As mentioned above, the risk of damage to pistons and valves is too high, and this can turn into an expensive repair that may even require you to get a rental car for a few days.