When Should I Replace My Timing Belt?

By Julia Freeman

The timing belt - also sometimes referred to as the cambelt - is a crucial component of many engines. Its function is to synchronise the timing of the ignition and the valves with that of the pistons.

Cambelt

Incorrectly adjusted timing, due to the belt or its pulleys being worn can lead to rough running. If the belt snaps or jumps, then the valves can hit the pistons and land you with a huge repair bill. There are a couple of important points to note here. Some engines have a failsafe or ‘non-interference’ design so that they’re not damaged if the belt breaks.
 
Some engines don’t have a belt for the timing at all but use a chain instead. In our experience timing chains generally have a much longer life, provided that the chain and its tensioners are kept well lubricated.

Replacement intervals

Manufacturers recommend that the belt and its ancillaries such as tensioners are changed at a specific mileage or time interval. These vary between models so it’s best to check your handbook. As a few examples, Audi recommends a belt change on the A4 2.0 TDi at 75,000 miles or 60 months, on a Peugeot 307 1.4 Hdi the interval is 144,000 miles or 120 months, on a Fiat 500 1.2 it’s 72,000 miles or 48 months.
 
These manufacturer intervals are a hard indicator as to when you need to change the belt. Go beyond them and you dramatically increase the risk of failure. If you are buying a used car with a high mileage, you should always check the service history to see if a cambelt change has been carried out. A good rule of thumb is to replace at five years or 60,000 miles unless the manufacturer recommends otherwise.

Warning signs

Even if the car hasn’t reached its recommended replacement interval, there are some signs to watch for that indicate it should be changed anyway.
 
If the belt is visible under the bonnet - some are hidden by covers - check to see if it’s in good condition and not frayed or worn. If you are in doubt, bring it to your local Protyre garage and our qualified fitters will be happy to advise.

It’s important that timing belts are kept at the correct tension. This should be checked at services, but if the belt appears to be loose, then it’s time to get it attended to. Any squealing noises from belts are also a warning sign that they need attention.
 
When you get the belt changed, you should always change the tensioners at the same time as well as the water pump and any auxiliary belts as these are likely to be worn too.
 
At Protyre we are happy to advise you on changing your timing belt. We can do lots of other jobs too; we supply a range of new tyres from brands like Falken and Sumitomo, carry out services, wheel balancing, and much more. Give your local Protyre garage a call or visit our website to book an appointment.

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About the author

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By Julia Freeman
Julia is Head of Retail Marketing for Protyre and loves engaging with customers and the business as a whole to make sure Protyre is more than just a local garage.
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