Timing Belt Maintenance

What is a timing belt?

Sometimes called a camshaft drive belt or cam belt: it is a reinforced, toothed rubber belt used in the engines of about 70% of today’s motor cars. It is propelled by the engine crankshaft and drives the camshaft which in turn opens the valves of the engine.

Where is it found?

It is at the front of the engine, usually under plastic covers to protect it from damage. It is behind the other more obvious drive belts such as the fan or alternator belts. As it cannot be seen without removing the covers and other components, it is often neglected.

Why does it wear?

The timing belt carries a very high load in the engine and, as with any rubber component of the vehicle, it perishes with age and is affected by heat and chemicals.

What will happen if it is not replaced on time?

If the belt is not replaced on time it may break or the drive teeth may strip. If this happens the camshaft in the engine stops rotating, leaving some valves open, protruding into the cylinders, the crankshaft continues to rotate and can push the pistons into the valves and bend them. This causes major engine damage which is very costly and time consuming to repair.

When should it be replaced?

Most car manufacturers recommend replacement from 60,000km to 100,00km. We strongly recommend replacement if the service history is not known. To replace the belt is only a fraction of the cost of repairing the damage caused should it break, not to mention the inconvenience of your car being out of use for many days.