Deep inside the engine of a car sits a rubber belt. It's circular and has grooves all along it like little teeth. This is the timing belt, and it is vital to the vehicle's performance. It connects the crankshaft to the camshaft, and in some cars it also powers the water and oil pumps. For those who are in need of this car repair service, it can mean the difference between a functioning car and an expensive piece of driveway decoration.
Typical signs of timing belt wear include a squealing from the engine while it's running, a shudder from the engine, difficulty in starting the vehicle and possibly smoky exhaust. It's best to replace a timing belt at the recommended mileage (usually between 40,000 and 70,000 miles), so it doesn't simply snap while you're driving down the road. This can sometimes cause damage to the engine itself, which leads to much more expensive repairs than simply replacing the belt. So, when your car repair service professional recommends you replace the belt, it's worth considering.
Timing belts themselves are relatively inexpensive, starting around $10. Replacing them, though, is the costly part. Because of where it's situated, it can take a few hours to do. The timing also needs to be checked to ensure that everything opens and closes properly. Don’t be surprised if your car repair services technician talks about replacing the water pump at the same time as the timing belt. It is located very near the belt, and most of the labor required to replace it is already done if they're going after the belt anyway. This step might save you some money on future repairs, should the water pump fail with age.