TIMING BELTS

TIMING BELTS IN WOLLONGONG

WHAT IS A TIMING BELT?

Timing belts are made from rubber and high tensile fibres. This belt is different from the serpentine belts because, if this belt breaks, it can cause serious engine damage – usually without any warning.

Timing belts are vital for two reasons: 

1. The valves in your engine need to open and close at precisely the right moment to allow the intake of air into the engine, which in turn allows for the combustion of fuel and production of energy that makes your vehicle work.

2. Incorrect timing can mean limited air intake and a compromised ability to burn fuel, and without the timing belt, the pistons and valves fall out of sync and collide. This is a big problem since the valves in your engine are very fragile and bend easily. One collision with the pistons is all it takes to cause a costly repair at best, or a completely ruined engine at worst.

REPLACING THE TIMING BELT

Unlike your brakes or suspension, there is no warning sign that your timing belt is wearing down. Your car will simply be running smoothly one moment and fail the next.

It is extremely important to observe the service guidelines in your manufacturer’s logbook and always get your timing belt replaced on schedule. Doing so will protect your back pocket as well as your warranty. For some cars, this can mean a timing belt replacement every 60,000 km or every four years. For other vehicles, it is every 100,000 km or every five years.

WHY IS IT SO EXPENSIVE?

The timing belt itself is a relatively cheap part to buy. The reason why the replacement is usually costly comes down to the location of the timing belt in your engine. To access the timing belt, your mechanic will generally need to dismantle and reassemble the entire engine bay – easily a few hours of work.

Don’t try and do this one yourself. One wrong move in synchronizing the shafts or incorrectly tuning the engine will cause the belt to fail and land you with a big mechanic bill to fit a new belt and repair the damage done.

WHY DO A TIMING BELT KIT AND NOT JUST THE BELT ITSELF?

The timing belt kit it made up of idlers, pulleys and tensioners that are each responsible for small but essential jobs. If these parts are worn when a new timing belt is installed, their reduced capacity to function can potentially cause your timing belt to fail in a very short time, without warning. It is for this reason that many manufacturers require the replacement of the entire timing belt kit as part of their logbook servicing – not just the belt itself.

In addition to this practical consideration, the labour time involved in accessing the timing belt means that it makes good financial sense to replace the entire kit in one go. Otherwise, you may find yourself doubling up on labour costs down the track!
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