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Auto Repair: Check the Timing Belt
Your timing belt is an essential maintenance item in your engine. It’s the one that keeps the engine running. If the timing belt breaks down or jumps a tooth, your vehicle’s engine will no longer run properly. In some engines, a timing belt can also drive additional components such as a water pump, balance shaft, intermediate shaft, injection pump and an oil pump. Finding out how to check the timing belt could save you an expensive repair.
If you have hit the recommended maintenance interval for the timing belt, it must be replaced, no matter what its condition. If you purchased a used vehicle, check the VinAudit Car History to be sure that the timing belt was changed according to the proper schedule, and if doubtful, have it changed.
The timing belt is usually located on the end of the engine under a small plastic or metal cover, which is held on by a couple of bolts or a few clips. To check the belt, first look at the outside of the belt to see if any tiny cracks are forming. One or two small cracks in the outer shiny coating of the belt are fine, but if you see lots of cracking on the surface this may signify extreme wear.
Next turn the belt over a little bit to check the teeth. A single broken tooth can be catastrophic. Also check the belt’s play by twisting it. If you can turn it much more than halfway around, it might have too much free play. Look at your manual to find out what your car’s specs indicate.
When you have completed checking the condition of the timing belt, be sure to replace any covers that you may have removed. These covers secure the timing belt and help shield it from liquids that could make it slip. If your timing belt fails any of these tests, it’s best to have it changed to prevent you from being stranded on the side of the road and a potentially expensive engine repair.