What is a Timing Belt, and Why is it Important?

Timing belt repair is important but only needs replacement once about every 50 to 90 thousand miles. However, it is a key part of any car’s internal structure, and it’s important to know what it is, and what it does.

Generally speaking, a timing belt can be a gear and chain system (timing chain, right), or more likely a rubber strip with teeth (timing belt, left) that articulate with the crankshaft and camshaft. Its purpose is to keep the crankshaft and camshaft in sync, which keeps the parts they control (the valves and pistons in the engine) in sync as well.

Timing belts vary from engine to engine, however most new cars contain rubber timing belts with a metal or polymer cover. This reduces the weight of the timing belt overall and runs quieter than gear and chain systems. The flexibility of timing belts also allows for them to interact with the water pump or oil pump. However, if you’re looking at a commercial vehicle or an airplane even, you won’t find any timing belts. Rather, you’ll find a timing chain instead because of their durability compared to a timing belt’s potential to fail without warning.

So how do you know if your timing belt or chain is in jeopardy? If you’re hearing an uncharacteristic rattling coming from under the hood, the timing belt may be the culprit. It’s a safe bet to bring your car into a professional shop whenever you hear a disconcerting rattling from your engine in general. In addition, if it has been 30,000 to 50,000 miles since you last checked in, you’re due for a check up! Come into Auto Excel Lexington or give us a call to learn more and keep driving safe. Or, check out our web page on car maintenance to see what we can do for you! See you soon!

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