Did you know that timing belt is important in keeping the crankshaft and camshaft turning at the right rate? The belt has a lighter weight which means that the car will have increased mileage. Learning what is a vehicle timing belt, how it functions and when you should replace it will help you in reducing the expensive vehicle breakdowns. However, you should remember that not all vehicles have timing belts. Due to the durability of timing chains, some manufacturers are now using them, and you should, therefore, remember to check your car’s manufacturer guide to know whether you have a chain or a belt.
What is the purpose of a timing belt in a vehicle?
This belt is necessary as it keeps both the crankshaft and the camshaft turning at the right rate. Crankshaft pushes pistons up for the compression and exhaust cycles while the pistons move down for the power and the intake periods. Depending on the make of your vehicle, the timing belt may also run the car’s water pump, injection pump, and the oil pump.
The camshaft, on the other hand, controls both the opening and closing of your vehicle’s valves for the intake and exhaust. For fuel to enter into the chamber, the valves must open at the right time. They should also close for compression to take place. Fuel may fail to get into the cylinder when timing cycle is off. At such instances, the fuel can also escape through the exhaust valve. This means that whenever the valves aren’t completely closed, most of the engine’s power is lost.
When should you change the timing belt?
Most car owners wonder on how often they should replace their timing belts. Before, the general rule was that the driver should replace a timing belt after driving for 60,000 miles. But due to technological advancement, most manufacturers recommend that drivers should do a replacement after they have driven for over 100,000 miles.
However, to be safer, you should check what your manufacturer recommends and be sure to remain within that mileage. There are also signs you can look for to know whether your timing belt is faulty. These symptoms include engine vibration, misfiring, and decline of your vehicle’s fuel economy. Today, timing belt noise is not among the most obvious indicators of a potential belt failure. It was a universal sign when vehicles had timing chains.
The earlier cars would get noisier as the timing chains loosened and started chattering. And because most manufacturers use timing belts, you will hardly hear when these belts are loose or have cracked. Even though the belts produce a sound, the noise is negligible as compared with that the timing chains provide.
You can also decide on whether to replace the timing belt or not if you have any other work which requires removal of the timing belt or the cover. In most vehicles, when replacing the water pump, the belt has to be replaced. Reinstalling old belts isn’t a good idea as they will have already stretched and it is hard to set the timing in the proper way. The labor cost forms the largest part of the expenses related to replacing a water pump or a timing belt and therefore you should consider investing in a new belt. When replacing the timing belt, you should also remember to change the water pump at the same time. If the water pump is closer to the end of its lifecycle, you will have saved a significant amount on the second service.
What will happen if the timing belt breaks?
In the best case scenario, the engine of your vehicle will stop running when the timing belt has broken. There will be no connection between the crankshaft and the camshaft. This is exactly what happens in a non interference engine. The overall effect of broken timing belts depends on the exact type of the vehicle’s engine. Your vehicle engine may be an interference engine or a non-interference one. Interference engines get more compression and as a result, provide more power.
For this reason, the smaller engines are the interference type. Their valves extend more into the cylinder compared with those on the non-interference type. This means that when the valve isn’t properly timed, the valve won’t be out of the way whenever the piston is moving entirely upwards. And when the timing belt of an interference engine breaks, one or even more valves may get stuck in open position. As a result, the pistons move upwards forcefully and crash into the open valve. This may damage the valves and pistons. Pistons can also push through the oil pans if the crankshaft happens to twist and break in the process.
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