A timing belt's core purpose is to synchronize the top half of an engine (cylinder head, valves) to the bottom half (crankcase, pistons). When the crankshaft turns, the timing belt turns the camshaft, which opens and closes the engine valves, allowing for the pistons to move up and down. Most vehicles produced in the 90s or before have a timing belt. Some new car manufacturers still use timing belts, but most have made the change to a metal timing chain. Metal timing chains, in theory, are designed to last the life of the engine. Please refer to your owner's manual for the type and maintenance schedule for your vehicle's timing apparatus.
The maintenance schedule for changing a timing belt varies by manufacturer, but most automotive experts will generalize that 50,000-70,000 miles or 5 years, whichever comes first, is a good time to address it. However, if you routinely drive in high temperatures (over 110°F, 43°C) or in very low temperatures (under -20°F, -29°C), you may need to replace more frequently.
Timing belts may show wear and tear in the form or worn, stretched, or cracked appearance and can disrupt the operation of you engine even before they break. Timing belt warning signs include rough idling or difficulty starting the engine. Replacement of your timing belt will keep your engine performance in line and help you avoid potentially costly repairs later.
Whether your engine survives a timing belt snap is dependent on what type of engine configuration your vehicle possesses - interference or non-interference.
An interference type engine means that the valve and piston's strokes share space in the cylinder. The timing belt keeps them from colliding. In the absence of a timing belt, they will strike one another causing substantial damage in the way of bent valves, cylinder head or camshaft damage and cylinder wall damage.It is highly unlikely that a snapped belt in this type of engine configuration will escape the damage.
In a non-interference engine, the pistons and valves don't share space so in the event of a snapped belt, no valve or cylinder damage occurs. All you need to do is replace the belt, and in theory, drive away without further complications.
Please consult vehicle owner's guide for the type of engine configuration of your vehicle.
Moss Bros. Auto Group service centers provide timing belt replacement services in Riverside,San Bernardino, and Moreno Valley, CA. Schedule your appointment today!