How Does a Timing Belt Work?

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The timing belt is a belt made of rubber that keeps your camshaft and your crankshaft synchronized so that your valve timing is always right. Some vehicles have a timing chain instead of a belt, but it serves the same purpose. If your valve timing is off, your engine won’t run properly. In fact, it may not run at all. The belt also regulates the power steering and the water pump.

If you have timing belt problems, your mechanic can identify the trouble and will probably recommend that it be replaced.

How the timing belt works

In the four-stroke engine, there are four strokes, or phases. They are:

  • The intake stroke: The piston moves downward, and the intake valve opens to allow the mixture of air and fuel to enter the cylinder. At this stage, the exhaust valve remains closed.

  • The compression stroke: The piston moves up and compresses the fuel and air mixture. All valves are closed.

  • The combustion stroke: The piston moves down, allowing the spark plug to ignite the fuel and air mixture, delivering power to the vehicle. All valves are closed.

  • The exhaust stroke: The exhaust valve opens, allowing excess fuel and air to leave the engine. The intake valve is closed.

While all this is going on, the timing belt works to turn the camshaft pulley (some vehicles have two camshaft pulleys) in conjunction with the crankshaft pulley. A bad timing belt can cause the camshaft and crankshaft to be out of synchronization, and this can be catastrophic for the car’s engine. It throws the valve timing off, and you can end up with bent valves, bent piston rods, or completely destroyed pistons.

You may notice problems in time. Timing belt noise can be a red flag – it usually sounds like squeaking in the belt, or rattling if you have a timing chain. A timing belt problem should never be ignored, so watch for signs that there could be something wrong. The last thing you want is to have to rebuild your engine. As a general rule of thumb, you should plan on replacing the belt every 60,000 to 90,000 miles, or at least have it checked.

For this reason, your manufacturer will have recommendations as to how often your timing belt should be replaced. Generally, around the 80,000 mile mark it is prudent to get a mechanic to replace your timing belt to ensure that the engine continues to run efficiently.


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Recent Timing Belt Replacement reviews

Excellent Rating


YourMechanic Timing Belt Replacement Service

Average Rating

4.9/5

Number of Reviews

1,152

Rating Summary
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1,077
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Chris

21 years of experience
1719 reviews
Chris
21 years of experience
Honda Civic - Timing Belt - Perris, California
Chris did an excellent job for replacing my car's water pump and timing belt. He explained everything and turns out great now i know that i won't have a leaky water pump no more.
Lexus ES330 - Timing Belt - Murrieta, California
Chris does a great job, checks his work and keeps me informed as to status. I request him when I use Your Mechanic. I feel like I can trust him.

Fred

16 years of experience
364 reviews
Fred
16 years of experience
Honda Odyssey - Timing Belt - Humble, Texas
Fred arrived on time and got to work immediately. He wouldn’t even take me up on my offer of coffee.....or lunch. He was very competent and efficient., and personable. We talked about a common interest, Air Force jets (I made sure not to distract him). Fred completed the work in less time than expected to my complete satisfaction. I will talk Fred and Yourmechanic up to friends and family and will definitely use Yourmechanic again.
Lexus SC430 - Timing Belt - Spring, Texas
On time. Polite. Competent. Willing to answer questions. Did great work. What else can you ask for?

Diego

20 years of experience
501 reviews
Diego
20 years of experience
Dodge Neon - Timing Belt - Tempe, Arizona
Our experience with Diego was excellent! Diego was here to replace the timing belt and water pump on one of our vehicles. Diego is a true professional and carries himself as such. His demeanor was pleasant and cordial; he was respectful and polite; and, he was communicative and took the time to explain his work and keep us apprised of his progress. Once the work was complete, Diego thoroughly explained all the work he did and the results of his inspection. I would use Diego again in a heartbeat and would also recommend him as he is truly a professional who know his stuff and his cars.
Mitsubishi Endeavor - Timing Belt - Phoenix, Arizona
Diego is an excellent mechanic. He was skilled, informative, and a pleasure to work with. I will definitely be using him again. Kudos, Diego!

Scott

21 years of experience
49 reviews
Scott
21 years of experience
Toyota Avalon - Timing Belt - Glendale, Arizona
Scott worked in the timeframe given plus, he was very professional in doing the job! Satisfied Consumer
Dodge Grand Caravan - Timing Belt Replacement - Phoenix, Arizona
Scott did a great job even in the 113 ' heat. He was courteous, conscientious, and knowledgeable. He went above and beyond to make sure my car was back to good running order.

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