What happens when a timing belt breaks? Let your local mechanic, All Tune and Lube Total Car Care in Tempe clue you in.
I guess the first thing you need to know is what a timing belt is! The timing belt is a flat rubber belt with teeth or gears molded in to it that drives the cams at the top of your cylinder head. It’s not the belts you can see that drive your alternator and power steering but sits behind a cover on that same side. Not every car has a timing belt and they’re getting more uncommon as manufacturers go to the more maintenance free timing chain. If you don’t know whether you have a belt or a chain it’s easy to find out. Take a look at your owner’s manual and if there’s a recommended service for a timing belt then you have one. Duh. If you don’t have your manual you can always do a search on line or ask us. While a chain doesn’t need service very often a timing belt needs to be replaced every 60,000 to 105,000 miles. We often recommend timing belt replacement based on age as well. For example Honda says that timing belts on some engines should be replaced every 6 years regardless of mileage.
When the timing belt breaks the cams stop turning and your car comes to a complete stop. The really bad news is that on some engines there can be major damage to the engine when this belt breaks. In a case like that a new belt won’t fix the problem, you may need a complete engine. The engines that can suffer this kind of problem are known as “Interference Engines” due to the fact that the valves in the cylinder heads can meet with the piston if the belt breaks. These are two parts that are just not supposed to get together. You can Google search your car to find out if you have one of these kinds of engines.
We strongly recommend replacement of the water pump at the same time as the timing belt because in most cases the water pump is driven by the timing belt. If the water pump fails the whole job has to be done again.
OK, hope that helps. Call your Local Mechanics, All Tune and Lube Total Car Care in Tempe. Complete auto repair and maintenance.