Monthly Archives: April 2017

Turn opens and closes the valves

The timing belt is a notched rubber belt, sometimes called a Gilmer belt. This belt allows the crankshaft to drive the camshaft, which in turn opens and closes the valves. Without this belt, the engine can’t run.

How do I know it’s time to replace my timing belt?
A loose or worn belt will cause ticking or rattling noises, poor engine performance and overheating, usually triggering the check engine light. If the timing belt breaks, the engine can’t run — and on some engines that break can cause internal damage. Most engines have timing chains, which typically don’t require replacing.

How often should I replace my timing belt?
The schedule for replacing a timing belt varies by manufacturer, with some saying it should be every 60,000 miles and others 100,000 miles or more. Changing the timing belt requires removing many other parts, adding to labor costs. If the timing belt drives the water pump, many mechanics recommend replacing the pump at the same time.

Why do I need to change my timing belt?
It’s not a question of why, but a question of how often, based on the recommendations of the vehicle manufacturer or a mechanic who finds the belt is stretched or damaged. See above for mileage recommendations, but remember: If it’s broken, you’re engine simply won’t work.

How much should I pay?
The cost of repairs can depend on where you are as much as it does on what you need fixed. To get an estimate for your repair, go to our estimator, plug in your car’s year, make and model information, add your ZIP code, and choose the repair you need. We’ll give you a range for what your repairs should cost in your area.

The Minimum You Should Drive

We recommend driving every two to three weeks to make it less likely that you wind up with a dead battery, flat-spotted tires or other issues that can be caused by letting a car sit for weeks.

We’ve heard many people say they let their cars sit for months with no problems, but you’re better off driving it a couple of times each month and for at least 10 miles, with some speeds over 50 mph if possible. You not only want your engine to get fully warmed up but for the entire car to get some exercise as well.

Letting a car idle for 10 minutes will get the engine up to normal operating temperature but accomplish little else. Driving the car for several miles wakes up the transmission, brakes, suspension, power steering, climate system (including the air conditioner) and all the fluids, seals and gaskets for those components that have been on a long snooze.

Batteries slowly lose their charge when they sit idle, and starting the car will drain it even more. That is one reason you want to drive several miles afterward, so the battery has a chance to recharge. If a car sits for a month or more, the battery may lose so much power that it will need a jump-start — or a  charge before the engine will start. To be sure your car will always start, consider a battery tender as described in our guide, “How to Store Your Car for Winter.” Unlike the rechargeable batteries in electronics, conventional car starter batteries don’t like to cycle deeply, so keeping them topped off could improve their longevity.

Here are more reasons not to let your car sit for several weeks or longer:

  • Tires slowly lose air under all conditions but especially during cold weather. As they do, the weight of the car keeps pressing down on the tires, which causes flat spots to develop on the segments sitting on the ground. Driving the car and adding air if necessary will usually make the tires round again, but letting the vehicle sit for extended periods on underinflated tires can cause permanent flat spots that you will be able to feel and hear when you drive.
  • Rodents might take up residence under the hood or even in exhaust outlets. If they get hungry, some may munch on the wiring harnesses and other parts made of soy and other organic materials that are used on modern vehicles.