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5 Symptoms of a Bad Timing Belt and Average Replacement Cost

July 20, 2017 | Engine Info

Location of the timing belt is in front of the vehicle’s engine. The timing belt is made of a strong rubber material which includes cords that are nylon-reinforced. That way, the timing belt’s lifespan can be preserved. While the timing belt is moving inside the motor, it is placed under lots of pressure and tends to wear out quickly for this reason. So, you will have to replace the timing belt very often. If you let your timing belt get worn out and you don’t replace it, then you will not have a running engine.

The timing belt links the camshaft to the crankshaft, which manages the pistons of the engine. As for the camshaft, it is responsible for opening the values and closing the valves. Overall, the timing belt makes sure the engine performs the best that it can by controlling the timing of the crankshaft and camshaft.

Symptoms of a Faulty Timing Belt

If you have a broken or worn out timing belt, the following are symptoms that may occur. Once you experience one or more of these symptoms, have a certified auto technician or mechanic inspect the timing belt and then replace it if necessary.

1) Rough Idling of the Engine

There are teeth on the timing belts which grip gears as they’re rotating various engine parts and components. If these teeth ever start falling off or become insufficient, the timing belt will start to slip away from the gears. Once this happens, the teeth will fall directly onto the gears and form a jolt in the engine. Worst of all, the engine will begin to stall because the camshaft timing is off.

2) Misfire of the Engine

The fire rate of the engine could be jeopardized from the timing belt being worn out. If the timing belt were to slip away from the gears and fall onto the camshaft, one of the cylinders will open and close too soon. If that happens, an engine misfire could occur which means the belt needs to be replaced right away. If you don’t replace the belt soon, the engine could be permanently damaged.

3) Smoke from the Engine

If it is wintertime and cold outside, it may be hard to tell if the vast amounts of smoke coming from your tailpipe are from anything bad or not. But if you see too much smoke that looks unusual even for the winter, then it probably has to do with a timing belt problem. The top of every cylinder has two holes which are responsible for letting out the exhaust and letting in air. The opening and closing of these holes are synchronized with how the cylinders move and how the camshaft rotates. If you have a worn-out timing belt then this will become unsynchronized, which means that exhaust will be let out and air will be let in at inappropriate times. The result will be lots of smoke coming out of your exhaust system.

4) Oil Pressure Decline

The timing belt spins the gears of the camshaft. If the timing of the belt is off, it can skip and break off pieces of the camshaft. Some of these pieces might fall into the vehicle’s oil pan, resulting in the oil pressure to drop in the bottom of the engine. This will cause the engine to fail altogether. The only way to recover from this is to rebuild the entire motor.

5) Pistons or Valves That Are Broken

The worst symptom you can experience is having the timing belt cut off or broken completely. If this is the case, the crankshaft will end up turning on its own and not be in sync with the motion of the camshaft. Once this happens, the piston will come in contact with the valves as they open. This could end up bending the valves or damaging the piston.

If you want to prevent your engine from getting damaged, have a new timing belt installed right away once you experience this symptom. Otherwise, it will cost a lot more to repair the engine.

The Average Cost to Replace the Timing Belt

The replacement cost of a timing belt is dependent on the number of labor hours that were spent on the replacement job. After all, with some cars, it is a lot harder to gain access to some of the components like the timing belt. For economy cars with small engines, the labor should be cheaper for this because they are easier to disassemble. But if you’re driving an SUV or a truck, they have bigger engines which mean you’ll be paying more money.

To replace a timing belt, the average cost will be anywhere from $312 to $416 in total. The cost of the labor will be anywhere from $255 to $322. The cost of the parts will be anywhere from $57 to $94. There will likely be taxes and fees added onto these prices too.

Read also: The Average Steering Column Replacement Cost

How the Job is Done

The mechanic needs to gain entry to the timing cover of the engine by removing various accessories. After removing the cover, the mechanic will analyze the timing belt and its pulleys to see what is needed for replacement. At this point, he will begin to remove the timing belt and then replace it with a new one. They will likely replace the pulleys, tensioners, and water pump if they feel it is important to do so.

Once everything is replaced, he will put the timing cover back on and any other parts that were removed. Now that it is all put back together, it can be tested with the start of the engine. Does the engine seem to operate okay? Is the timing of the engine good? If yes to both of these, then you are in good shape. Pay the mechanic and then you are done.

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