How Long Does a Timing Belt or Timing Chain Last?

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How Long Does a Timing Belt or Timing Chain Last?
By: Luke Shaff ~ 3/16/2016

The belts, seals, and gaskets in your vehicle are not built to last forever; they're meant to be replaced.  Some automotive repairs give you warnings when they're needing to be taken care, like squeaky brakes or slipping tires.  Your vehicle's timing belt (or timing chain) isn't one of these components: you might not notice when it's wearing down.  And if you happen to have an interference engine, a timing belt failure can destroy your entire engine.  Let's learn about this little-discussed yet very critical engine component.

What is the Timing Belt/Timing Chain?

This timing belt is what keeps the crankshaft and camshaft, two of your engine's largest moving parts, spinning in sync.  Often, it's also responsible for opening and closing the valves of your engine to allow gasoline to enter the cylinder and exhaust to leave.  In an interference engine (like you'd see in mid-nineties American cars, among other eras and makes), without the timing belt to correctly stagger the valves opening and closing, the piston will actually strike the valves themselves, ruining the valves and seizing the engine.

Is the Damage Always that Bad?

Almost always. The timing belt or chain is incredibly important to your car's basic functioning.  Without it, your engine just won't work.

When Should it be Replaced?

Your vehicle's manual will tell you the factory recommended interval, which is often between 30 and 50 thousand miles.  You may find your timing belt or chain lasts a lot longer.  The thing is, you won't notice any kind of wear (and can't see it, since the timing belt is often deep inside the engine) until you're almost at the point of failure, and that failure could destroy your engine.  As frustrating as it is, it's best to replace it as part of scheduled maintenance as opposed to waiting until you absolutely need it. You might absolutely need a whole new engine if you do.

To get a professional opinion of how long you've got left and how expensive this kind of repair might be on your particular vehicle, you should get a professional estimate.  Places like Luke's Automotive in Redmond, Washington specialize in these intensive, scheduled maintenance services.  They'll be able to give you a fair, thorough estimate of all work involved in your vehicle's timing belt or chain replacement.  And they're not hesitant to tell you if you've got a lot of life left in your belt and send you on your way. Luke's Automotive does auto maintenance the old fashioned way: with respect, speed, and deep knowledge of the industry.

Schedule an appointment, or call 425-885-4333.