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

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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.

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