Can you visually check a timing belt?

Can you visually check a timing belt?

What happens if the timing belt breaks a tooth?

Although these are the main factors that a buyer should consider when purchasing a used car, there are other aspects to take into account before deciding on one vehicle or another. One of them is to choose whether you want a timing belt or a chain. Do you know what the differences are between one and the other? Is it better to have a timing belt or a chain? Do they have the same maintenance?

At SM Motor we want to help you find the used car that best suits what you are looking for and to know all the advantages and disadvantages of having a timing belt or a chain.

When you go to look at used cars you want it to be a car that will last as long as possible and have the least possible maintenance, right? Well, one of the fundamental factors for this is to know beforehand if it has a timing belt or chain, as well as to know beforehand if it has been changed previously or in what state it is in.

Each type of timing belt has its advantages and disadvantages, you just have to know what they are and each buyer can make the decision that best suits his needs. Although chains are reputed to be durable, logically they are not unbreakable; it must be borne in mind that the chain wears out and stretches. In fact, when it fails, it is not the chain that usually breaks, but other elements involved in its operation.

How do I know if a vehicle has a timing chain?

To find out if our vehicle has a timing belt or chain, we must make a visual identification of components that will really indicate the system it incorporates; or check if the maintenance book specifies something about it.

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What happens when the timing belt breaks while running?

The main problem when a timing belt breaks while the engine is running is that the other elements of the engine lose synchronism and start to rub against each other (valves, pistons…). Failures in this situation are quite serious, and in many cases require engine replacement.

How long can the timing belt last?

A timing belt can last up to 10 years, but these are more isolated cases. It is always recommended to have it checked every 4-5 years and, depending on the condition of the belt, decide whether to change it or not.

Misplaced timing belt symptoms

Unfortunately, one of the most common symptoms of a worn timing belt is a belt that has already failed.  That is why it is very necessary to visit your mechanic periodically for a check-up and change it within the allotted time to avoid a timing belt breakage.  If the timing belt breaks, the pistons violently hit the valves, twisting or breaking them.

It consists of the tensioners, guide roller and water pump in addition to the belt.  It is also recommended to replace the water pump in addition to changing the timing belt.  You may have heard that the water pump needs to be replaced at the same time as the timing belt.  The water pump is a moving part driven by the timing belt.  If the water pump breaks, it can cause the engine to overheat or even break the timing belt, so it is essential to change the water pump at the same time as the belt.  Especially since most of the time it is imperative to move the belt to remove the water pump, the store or mechanic will take the opportunity to replace it.  Keep in mind that a belt that is removed can never be reassembled on your vehicle due to the deformation caused during removal.

What happens if the timing belt is too tight?

In some engines, improper belt tension can cause misalignment problems. And finally, if a car is involved in an accident, damage to the timing belt, which is not visible, may go unnoticed until it is too late.

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How long does the timing belt of a Spark last?

Recommended every 70,000km or when indicated by the manufacturer.

What type of straps are most commonly used?

Flat belts and V-belts are the best known and most commonly used in the general field, however, there are occasions when specific jobs require belts with special characteristics.

What it sounds like when the timing belt breaks

When we think of an engine, pistons, connecting rods, cylinders… usually come to mind, but there are other elements that are just as important and that, without them, our car’s engine could not work.

The timing belt does not usually give symptoms that it is in bad condition, except when it becomes loose and starts to play. In this case, it can make a noise when it hits against the cover that protects it from dirt. This can happen when the timing belt tensioner has broken.

It can also happen that the timing belt is incorrectly positioned. In this case the symptom is clear: the car will not start. If it is only one tooth that is not correctly positioned, a warning light will come on on the instrument panel and the engine will not work correctly, since the belt has only one point of positioning and there is no possibility of error. It has to be correctly positioned (all the parts must be at their mark). If instead of one, there are several misplaced teeth, the pistons will collide with the cylinder head, something that should never happen.

What if the alternator belt is missing?

Without it, only the engine would work, as long as the battery that starts it has enough charge beforehand. In addition, if we dare to drive it ignoring the engine failure warnings, it could be a very complicated and dangerous task due to the difficulty of moving the steering wheel.

What can damage the timing belt?

When the belt breaks, this synchronization is lost, and the pistons – traveling at enormous linear speeds and with tremendous force – end up impacting the valves. Valves break or bend, pistons are damaged, and even the cylinder head can suffer extensive damage.

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What is the timing belt?

The timing belt transmits the crankshaft movement to the camshaft in charge of opening and closing the valves that allow the fresh air-petrol mixture to enter and the combustion gases to exit.

Incorrect timing belt

As we already told you in, the timing belt is changed preventively, before its wear is such that it can break, to avoid a serious breakdown, or problems in valves and cylinder head.

In the manual of the car you will find the exact information about the mileage at which it is convenient to carry out the operation of changing the timing belt. Depending on the manufacturer and the vehicle model, this mileage can vary between 60,000 and 160,000 kilometers.

There are some indications that can help us to identify that a timing belt is worn. Therefore, we should pay special attention and go to a reliable workshop to check if it is necessary to replace it if we notice any (or several) of the following symptoms.

On the other hand, another typical symptom that the timing belt may be failing is that the engine vibrates and the vehicle shakes while driving. Keep in mind that the timing belt was designed to synchronize the operation of the valves and pistons and when this does not occur, shaking can be felt.