Is It Time to Replace Your Timing Belt?

timing belt
Don't wait until it's too late to replace your car's timing belt. amazon.com

Most responsible car and truck owners know that at some point in their vehicle's lifetime they will need to replace the timing belt. Mechanics talk about timing belts like they are the loop of rubber that holds the entire universe together. That's because if your car's engine is your universe (or at least your galaxy), the timing belt is just that.

What is a timing belt?

A timing belt is a rubber belt similar to your alternator or power steering pump belts, usually reinforced and with more teeth.

Like many things in life, a well-tuned engine is all about timing. Everything needs to happen at the right time in order for the engine to purr like you want it to. The spark plug needs to spark at exactly the right millisecond, that moment in time when the cylinder is being compressed and is full of air and fuel vapor. If any of these things happen at the wrong time, you get spits, sputters, pops or an engine that won't run at all. If the spark comes too late, the exhaust valve might have started to open and instead of that tiny explosion being used to make your car move forward, it exits the tailpipe as a loud backfire. Since timing belts are made of rubber, they do wear out eventually.

Does my car have a timing belt?

You might be thinking your vehicle must have a timing belt, but some don't. These engines are kept in time using a chain, which is far less likely to wear out and are generally not replaced at a specific time interval like a timing belt.

The best way to know whether your car has a timing belt or a timing chain is to consult your repair manual. You can also call the dealer parts department and ask for a timing belt for your car or truck. If you get a smart comment as a reply, you'll know you don't have one.

When should I replace my timing belt?

The problem is knowing when it's time to replace it.

You can inspect your timing belt, which is a good idea to do at every maintenance check, but if you want to really stay on top of your engine maintenance, you should replace your timing belt at the manufacturer's interval. These intervals vary from car to car and engine to engine. The good news is we have a database that can provide you with that information for most vehicles. Check out the Timing Belt Info Page to check up on your next timing belt replacement.

​Need to order a timing belt for your car or truck? Order now from Amazon.com and have it at your doorstep in time for the big maintenance day!