Timing isn’t just something that you need to get right on your drive — when to stop, when to go and when to throw caution to the wind — it’s also important for your car’s engine. Engines depend on the timing belt to keep everything in sync and functioning normally, which can keep you safe on the road even while you’re oblivious to what’s going on under the hood.
In fact, the timing belt is an important maintenance issue, and any car owner should know at least the basics of how a timing belt works if you ever need to head in for timing belt service.
What’s a Timing Belt?
Similar to a bike chain on a bicycle, the timing belt keeps all the parts of your engine in sync. Depending on the make and model, the timing belt may also power the oil pump, water pump or injection pump, as well as other systems in your car.
But unlike the metal that makes up a bike chain, a timing belt is made of rubber with interlocking teeth that hook into the crankshaft and camshaft. It’s responsible for making sure that the engine opens the intake and exhaust valves in time with the moving pistons, which is important because if any of that gets out of sync, your vehicle won’t run properly.
For example, a timing belt issue could cause your intake valves to open too early, affecting the fuel-air mixture and causing a loss of power. On the other hand, if the valves open too late, you could be running too little pressure, also causing power issues.
At the far end of the spectrum, a badly out of whack timing belt could cause damage to internal components. If that happens you’ll be looking at much more than timing belt service — you could be headed for a complete engine rebuild or other costly repairs.
Timing Belt or Timing Chain
Instead of a timing belt, some vehicles actually have a timing chain that’s made of metal, not rubber. However, they’re louder, heavier and more finicky, at least for older model timing chains that were all but fully replaced by timing belts when they were introduced in the 1960s.
Today, some newer model cars actually have timing chains due to various design improvements and the goal of a more robust timing belt. If you have a newer make and model, you may actually have a timing chain, which means you can go longer in-between replacements.
Timing Belt Service in Austin Texas
Whether you know exactly what it is or you’re hearing something strange and you want to get in front of it before it becomes a bigger issue, timing belt service in Austin, Texas is something that everyone has to go through at one time or another. It’s usually part of a larger service initiative, but the timing belt typically has to be replaced every 60,000 to 100,000 miles.
Your owner’s manual should have the recommended maintenance interval clearly stated within its pages, but that’s just a suggestion. Since the timing belt is made of rubber, it will wear down and break at some point. If left unaddressed, that could affect your engine, causing costly repairs.
That’s why we suggest all drivers get timing belt service in Austin, Texas. It’s a small price to pay for the peace of mind of a properly functioning timing belt, and it also means that you won’t end up with broken or bent valves, cylinder head or camshaft damage or other problems with your engine.