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What Is A Timing Belt? Why Is It Important?

Written by Christian Mills /  Google+

As a car owner, it is rather helpful where it is not essential to know your car as you know yourself. This has very practical applications, namely in that if you take the time to study your vehicle and its workings, you can better work out what’s wrong with it and why.

This makes repairing it much easier, either because you know how to do it yourself or because you can tell a mechanic what’s wrong and help reduce diagnosis time. For the purpose of this article, though, we’ll focus on the timing belt. What is a timing belt? Why is it important?

Photo by Terabass

The Timing Belt and You

The timing belt is essentially the belt in your engine that controls the camshafts, opening and closing the valves at the right time during the engine’s exhaust strokes. Hence the name – a timing belt is essential for the timing of the engine’s moving parts, ensuring they move exactly when they are supposed to. It also plays a very important role in preventing the pistons from striking the valves.

While some engines use gears instead of a timing belt, use of it enables designers to place camshafts further towards the back of the engine, as well as space them further away from each other.

While timing chains have seen a resurgence in recent years, and gears are still sometimes used, most engine designers prefer timing belts made from composite rubber. This is because rubber belts are less expensive and much lighter than metal chains, and also – crucially – require much less lubrication. While gears and chains are more durable, timing belts are more economic in general, both in design and maintenance.

Why is a Timing Belt Important?

As noted, a timing belt is crucial for ensuring that the working parts of the engine are all synchronized with each other. This makes it essential for the overall running of your car’s engine.

Principally, a strong and new timing belt makes a marked difference in the engine’s performance. If a timing belt is worn down and cracked, you may notice that your car just doesn’t accelerate as quickly as it could do even if the accelerator is pressed flat against the floor. This is a good sign that it is time to be replaced.

A worn down timing belt will also have an impact on your vehicle’s gas mileage. When your camshaft and crankshaft are properly aligned and synchronised, your engine’s valves will give much better performance when driving.

Your car owner’s manual should tell you when a timing belt should be replaced, which is usually after every 50,000 miles for most vehicles, about the same distance as just under eight journeys around the Earth’s radius. It is important you replace the timing belt when specified.

Failure to do so will result in timing belt failure. A worn down belt will just cause your car to take a while to speed up. A broken one, however, could result in a complete breakdown or even dramatically damage the engine entirely. A broken belt can frequently result in broken or bent valves and pistons, which would render the entire engine almost entirely inoperable. In such situations, the car will need to be towed and probably need a new engine. This is very expensive, as you would probably expect.

Replace Your Timing Belt Regularly

As you can see, your timing belt is a very important part of your car’s engine. Without it, you will not get anywhere fast, and its replacement is a lot less expensive than the repair or replacement of your car’s engine.

If ever you find that your car just isn’t giving you as much acceleration as it should be, or driving up a steep hill causes the engine to suddenly cut out, always check the state of your timing belt. If it is worn and cracked, take it into an auto shop at your earliest convenience to get it replaced.
It is a lot cheaper, and a lot more convenient this way in the long run. Just because your car seems to run fine does not mean it is in top condition!
Christian Mills is an automotive enthusiast who strives to make sure his car is always in perfect order. Sometimes though, breakdowns do happen, and in those situations he recommends visiting

What Is A Timing Belt? Why Is It Important? Reviewed by Brandon on 12:54 AM Rating: 5

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