The modern automobile engine is a very complex and highly engineered piece of machinery. There are gears turning, valves opening and closing, and pistons pumping. As with an orchestra, the timing has to be just perfect otherwise everything will come to a screeching halt and your engine will literally tear itself to pieces.
The Time Keeper of your Engine
One of the most important parts on your vehicle’s engine is the timing belt or chain that synchronizes the rotation of the crankshaft and camshaft so that the valves open and close at the right time. The valves are the things that allow gas to flow into the engine cylinders, and exhaust to escape once the fuel air mixture has been burned. If the timing gets thrown off because the timing belt or chain fails, the engine won’t run properly. In some engines, the pistons can slam into the valves, causing very serious and expensive damage to the engine.
The timing belt or chain is located at the front of the engine where it loops around some gears just like in the photo above. It’s hidden behind a cover so you can’t look at it just by peering into your engine compartment.
Nothing Lasts Forever
A timing belt is made out of flexible rubber reinforced with tough fibers like Kevlar. It’s lightweight, quiet, tough, and relatively inexpensive, but it doesn’t last forever. It’s subjected to friction and high heat, and eventually it begins to wear. Most vehicle manufacturers recommend that you have your timing belt replaced every four years or 96,000 km if you have an older vehicle. Many new vehicles can go up to 160,000 km before the belt has to be changed.
It’s important to know if you have a timing belt or a chain on your vehicle. A timing chain lasts much longer than a belt and can often outlive the rest of the vehicle.
Save Money and have other Work Done
Your owner’s manual will tell you if you have a timing belt in your vehicle and when you should have it replaced. It’s relatively inexpensive to have a timing belt replaced, but if you don’t do it and the belt breaks, the repair bill will be much, much higher.
When you have your timing belt replaced, it’s also a good idea to have other engine components like the water pump changed at the same time. The water pump is also prone to failure and it’s much cheaper to have it replaced while engine components and covers have been removed for the timing belt replacement.
When in doubt, read your Manual
If you’re not sure if your vehicle has a timing belt or a chain, check your owner’s manual. If you’re still not sure, ask your dealer. If you have a belt, refer to the manual to find out when it’s due for a replacement. If that’s right about now, don’t wait – have it done before the belt fails and you have an expensive engine repair on your hands.
For all of your auto servicing and repairs including timing belt replacement, contact Kelowna Nissan.