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Q: How does a mechanic know the timing belt is broken

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The mechanic told me that the timing belt broke on my 1999 Honda Accord (although it was changed 50K ago). How does he know it is broken (with the concomitant likely engine damage) as opposed to slipping badly (big oil leak under timing cover which is supposedly what led to the timing belt breaking)? Car briefly hesitated twice on interstate and I got off the road onto the shoulder and stopped I mmediately; car would not restart; towed to shop that replaced the timing belt 50K ago. Water pump and balance shaft belt etc changed then too - but they did not change the cam and crank seals etc. at the same time. I now know I should have that had done then too but I did not know about the seals and they did not tell me about them. 242000 miles on the car; 3rd timing belt (recommended change every 100000 or so miles). Honda tells me high likelihood of valve/piston damage if belt broke. Car otherwise in good condition for a 1999 car.

A: Hello. I would need to know the specific en...

Hello. I would need to know the specific engine to be sure, but since Honda does use interference type engines, it may be possible that damage has occurred if the timing belt has broken. Interference type engines use very tight valve to piston clearances. This yields increased engine performance, however, leaves the engine susceptible to contact and damage if the timing belt breaks. Checking to see if the belt is broken should be a simple matter of removing the timing covers to check the condition of the belt. While not common, it is still possible that the belt broke, even if it did not yet reach the recommended mileage. I would check the the belt to see if it has broken and go from there. If you need help with a timing belt repair, a certified professional from YourMechanic can go to your home or office to perform this service.

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