What Are the Causes for Timing Belt Failure?

Timing belt failure is one of the most dreaded car maintenance issues, and for good reason. Because of the timing belt’s location, the diagnosis is a time-consuming process. Additionally, when a timing belt breaks, there are probably several other parts that will need replacing as well. Knowing the causes of timing belt failure can help your clients avoid this expensive repair job.

What Makes Timing Belts So Important?

The timing belt is what keeps the crankshaft and camshaft in sync with each other, ensuring that the engine’s intake valve and pistons do not run into one another. When the belt fails, the engine parts are no longer in harmony, and both the valve and the piston can take damage.

Old Age

Contrary to what most people think, it’s not the mileage that determines when you need to replace a timing belt, but the belt’s age. Most timing belts are made from rubber, which has a limited life expectancy. To help remind car owners to get their timing belts replaced, most manufacturers will recommend a replacement time based on car mileage, but these number are only an estimate.

Letting a Car Sit

While use is eventually what causes rubber to break down, it’s also what keeps it flexible. If your client has a car that they haven’t driven in a long time, there’s a good chance any rubber parts are going to be dried out. Unfortunately, this includes the timing belt.

Worn Hydraulic Tensioner

Every rubber timing belt has a tensioner that keeps the belt taut and increases the accuracy of the engine shafts. When the tensioner begins to wear, it can actually damage the belt and hasten the need for a replacement.

When To Replace a Timing Belt

When your clients know the causes of timing belt failure, hopefully they can make it in for a routine repair before it becomes a serious problem. A car can’t run without a timing belt, so any driver who experiences a sudden breakage will be stranded.

In addition to the mileage recommendation from the manufacturer, you can assume it’s time to replace a timing belt whenever you see the oil seals from behind the timing cover start to leak onto the belt, which can cause it to break down. It’s also a sign whenever the exterior drive belts start to crack.

Rubber Alternatives

Next time a client needs a timing belt replacement, consider using a urethane belt from Texas Belting and Supply instead of a rubber one. While urethane has some similarities to rubber, it is much more resistant to abrasion, water, oil, and oxidation. Unlike rubber, it holds up very well to fluctuations in temperature. Check out our wide variety of belt sizes and styles or give us a call at 866-754-6747.