What is a timing belt?
A timing belt is basically reinforced rubber bands that are used to synchronize the turns of the crankshafts and camshafts in the engine. There are teeth located inside of some timing belts and these will match up to the gears of an individual engine.
What are they for?
In older vehicles were used to synchronize crankshafts and camshafts. Newer engines use timing belts to also drive the water pump. There function is to keep the valves and pistons in time with each other. The camshaft must reach a full cycle before the pistons and valves push down on it and the timing belt helps that happen.
When do I change it?
Most vehicle timing belts are supposed to last at least 60,000 miles. But some of the newer designs will last the whole life of the engine. As a vehicle owner you should replace your timing belts according to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations.
If the timing belt breaks, the engine will stop and the vehicle will not be able to run. Another possibility is that the valves and pistons can force themselves into the camshaft and cause them to bend and brake. There is no warning signs of the timing belt breaking so the best way to prevent this issue is to replace the belt when your vehicle is scheduled for it.
On average the cost of a broken timing belt costs about 3 times the amount of a scheduled replacement.
Another money saving strategy when having your timing belt replaced is to have the water pump replaced as well. Everything that needs to be done to replace the water pump will already have been done so you will not have to pay for extra labor.