|$ Timing belt kit: $100-$800+||$ $ Professional replacement: $150-$1,000+||$ $ $ Timing belt package: $300-$1,800+|
A timing belt is responsible for connecting the crankshaft at the bottom of the engine with the camshafts at the top of the cylinder head.
Its job is to control the “timing” of the pistons that have to open and close at a certain interval synchronized in harmony.
Timing belts are often confused with timing chains, but they can be considered as cousins, as they serve the same purpose in your vehicle.
Timing belts have a critical job and are put under heavy pressure, but they are vulnerable and can break and provoke expensive damage to the engine if car owners don’t give them the proper scheduled maintenance.
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Are Timing Belts And Timing Chains The Same?
Timing belts and timing chains are often confused by car owners.
They do the same job inside all vehicles, but they differentiate one from the other because of their material and location inside the vehicle.
While timing chains are made from strong metal, timing belts are made from a rubber composition, like serpentine belts.
Due to the rubber composition, timing belts are cheaper, but they make less noise than timing chains, so they are often preferred for quiet and efficient engines.
The downside of timing belts is that they are also more vulnerable and weaker, and the rubber wears and degrades faster, so they need to be replaced more often; in most cases, they break without warning, which is a risk as the engine could be damaged severely.
Also, timing belts and timing chains are located in different places; the timing belt is located outside the engine and doesn’t need any lubrication, while the timing chain is within it and receives lubrication.
Check out this video made by Driving 4 Answers that explains the history, evolution, and differences between timing chains and timing belts.
How Long Does A Timing Belt Last?
Timing belts are made from rubber, which means they don’t last long as they degrade with time.
Depending on the quality of the timing belt, it can last more or less, but manufacturers recommend having the timing belt inspected and replaced every 60,000 to 90,000 miles or after five to six years.
For each specific vehicle, the owner’s manual will tell the recommended service schedule for the timing belt, which is often replaced with other related parts simultaneously, like the serpentine belt or water pump.
Failing to do maintenance when it’s recommended could lead to the timing belt breaking, and although some signs will tell you the timing belt is failing, it usually breaks without warning, which could lead to severe engine damage.
What Are The Signs Of A Failing Timing Belt?
Timing belts aren’t as strong as timing chains; they wear relatively fast, and more often than not, they break without showing signs.
But some specific signs will let you know if your timing belt is failing:
- You Hear Odd Noises Coming From The Engine
- Your Check Engine Light Is On And Flashing
- Your Car Starts Hard And Occasionally Misfires
- You Notice A Loss Of Power, And Your Car Runs Or Idles More Roughly Than Normal
This article made by Berryman explains these signs more in detail.
Car owners should be aware of these signs because if they are showing, it means the timing belt doesn’t have much time left.
Driving with a broken timing belt is impossible, and if it breaks while driving, it could provoke expensive damage to your engine.
What Affects Replacement Costs Of A Timing Belt?
Many factors affect the final costs of replacing a timing belt, like the make and model of your vehicle, how old it is, where you take your car for the job, labor costs, the parts that need to be replaced, and their quality.
Having the timing belt replaced by a professional mechanic can cost from $150 to $1,000 or more; this can include the replacement of some accessories and other parts like the serpentine belt or water pump.
Labor costs for replacing a timing belt go from $50 to $120 per hour, and this is a job that, depending on the parts that need replacement, can take from two to eight hours or more.
Typically, due to the intense labor that is accessing the timing belt and evaluating its related hardware, manufacturers recommend doing a “timing belt package” and replacing some other parts along with the timing belt, like the tensioner, water pump, serpentine belt, seals, gaskets, and others.
The price of a timing belt package will vary depending on the parts included in it, and it can cost from $300 to $1,800 or more.
A more affordable way to replace a timing chain is by a DIY, but this is a complex project that requires some knowledge and mechanical skills; just buying the timing belt can cost from $25 to $80 or more, and a timing belt kit that includes other parts can cost $100 to $800 or more.
You can get your timing belt professionally replaced at national auto care chains like Midas, Goodyear, and Pep Boys, car dealerships, which are more expensive, or your local mechanic, which is usually the most affordable option.
And, you can get just the timing belt at online retailers like Advance Auto Parts, Buy Auto Parts, and Amazon.
The following comparison shows the price difference and parts included between some online retailers:
|Company||What Includes||Price Range|
|Advance Auto Parts||Just the timing belt||$10 – $100|
|Advance Auto Parts||Timing belt kit||$50 – $610|
|Buy Auto Parts||Timing belt kit||$35 – $500|
|Amazon||Just the timing belt||$15 – $ 100|
|Amazon||Timing belt kit||$50 – $ 550|
Things To Consider
- First, check your car’s owner manual to know if you have a timing belt, type, and the recommended maintenance schedule for a replacement. Don’t wait for the signs of a failing timing belt to appear.
- Check the different auto care shops around you and ask for a budget and what’s included in the job. Buying a timing belt from an online retailer and hiring a professional mechanic to replace it’s one of the most affordable options.
- Timing belt kits are a great option if you have passed the schedule maintaining service for your timing belt, so you can be sure to change the related hardware that could be worn out as well.
- When replacing the timing belt, the mechanic will need to gain entry to the engine’s timing cover, so he will need to remove various accessories to do it.
- The mechanic needs to analyze the timing belt and its related hardware to conclude what other parts may need replacement.
- The new timing belt and accessories, once installed, will be tested.
- DIY jobs to replace the timing belt are not easy if you lack mechanic experience, as the timing belt could not be the only part that needs replacement. Auto Zone has a great video that shows how to replace a timing belt.
- Typically, the water pump and the serpentine belt are replaced simultaneously when the timing belt is replaced, along with other accessories. Replacing the water pump and the serpentine belt simultaneously as the timing belt costs less than doing them separately, and the average price for both is about $200.