Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Q: How Does a Car's Timing Belt Work?

asked by on

How does a timing belt work?

A: The timing belt keeps your camshaft and you...

The timing belt keeps your camshaft and your crankshaft synchronized so that your valve timing is always right. It also regulates the power steering and the water pump. If your timing belt isn’t working properly, your engine won’t run properly, if it runs at all. Timing problems can cause serious engine damage.

Timing belts have cogs, or teeth, that engage with the grooves in the crankshaft sprocket and camshaft sprockets that keep each of the sprockets synchronized with each other as the engine rotates. Each camshaft operates a set of valves that control the airflow in and out of the combustion chambers. One cam operates the intake valves while the other cam operates the exhaust valves. If you have a single camshaft, this cam operates both intake and exhaust valves. If these camshafts are not in sync with each other and in sync with the crankshaft, the valves will not open and close at the proper times and catastrophic engine damage may occur.

Timing belts may break prematurely which will cause engine failure. If not replaced on a regular basis, the cogs on the timing belt will break off, causing the engine timing to go out of time. This, in turn, will likely cause engine failure.

If you think you are having trouble with your timing belt, have a professional technician at YourMechanic check and/or replace your timing belt at their regularly scheduled intervals to help protect the investment you've made in your car.

Was this answer helpful?

Need advice from certified mechanic? Get help now!

Over 1000 mechanics are ready to answer your question.
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Ask a Mechanic
(100% Free)

Have a car question? Get free advice from our top-rated mechanics.

Ask A Mechanic
Over 10,000 questions answered!

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Save up to 30%

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: Timing and cam phaser

Hi there. Assuming, the cam phaser/timing chain component repair was properly performed. The rough idle within two hours of picking up the vehicle may be, something has come loose (ie; a vacuum line). The repair facility should be willing to...

Q: How do you deactivate or activate the Belt-Minder® system?

While the Belt-Minder® system in your car is designed to help ensure that you’re aware if a seat belt isn’t being worn, there may come a time that you need to deactivate (and then reactivate) the system. Here’s how: ...

Q: Service engine soon light

The code P0325 and P1447 may be problems with the evaporative emission charcoal canister and vent solenoid problem from charcoal getting into the solenoid and tripping the code P1447. Some owners also got the code P0325 for the knock sensor...

Related articles

How Long Does a Heater Control Valve Last?
Keeping the right amount of coolant in a car is essential in keeping the engine at the right temperature. Failing to have the right amount of coolant or even bad elements...
How to Renew Your Car Registration in Oklahoma(DELETED)
Having your car registered with the Oklahoma Tax Commission is an important part of driving legally in this state. You will need to do this within 30 days of moving to Oklahoma...
Rules of the Road For Iowa Drivers
Driving on the roads requires knowledge of the rules, many of which are based on common sense and courtesy. However, even though you know the rules in...