The main symptoms of a bad timing belt

26 April 2019 / Lindleys Autocentres

A timing belt is located alongside your engine to keep the crankshaft and camshafts timed properly. When the crankshaft moves up for compression, the piston will move downwards for power and intake. This is why it is very important for you to uphold your engine’s timing belt maintenance.

As the symptoms include: loss of power, loss of fuel economy, and misfiring and engine vibration, we are going to cover the three main signs of a bad timing belt.

Damaged ‘teeth’

Located under a timing cover at the front of the engine, a timing belt is typically made with high-quality rubber and ‘teeth’.  As a vital part of your vehicle’s engine, when the timing belt snaps or the teeth are stripped away, the car will not work. The teeth are required to grip onto the heads of the camshafts and crank in order to transfer the power from one side of the engine to the other.  

Ticking sounds

If you begin to hear a ticking sound coming from your engine and it is not due to low oil pressure or lack of lubrication, there's a high possibility it is because your timing belt is worn out. As soon as you notice this sign, you must get your engine checked out by a mechanic sooner than later. If left to its own demise, the belt can completely break and stop the engine from working.

No ignition

When your timing belt snaps or is broken in some way, your engine will not be able to turn on. Now, you may hear your vehicle attempt to ignite as you turn the key, but if the belt is broken, it will not turn over the crank and camshaft (fully engage the engine).

Oil leaking

If you notice oil leaking from the front of your vehicle, there is a chance that the engine is leaking motor oil from the timing belt cover. Along with wearing out the timing belt, this leakage can cause the engine to overheat. You want to get your engine checked out as soon as possible to prevent further complications.

What causes your timing belt to wear out faster

Temperature changes

As timing belts are made from rubber, changes in temperature can cause the rubber to stretch when warm then contract when it cools down. In cases of extreme heat and coldness, cracks can form on the surface of the belt.

Oil leaks

When there's an oil leak, it can get in between the teeth of the belt. When this occurs it can cause the belt to slip. When left untreated, the belt can eventually slide off completely. Therefore, you must get your car looked at as soon as you notice any leaks coming from your engine to prevent further damage.

Water leaks

With similar effects as oil leaks, water leaks can be detrimental to your timing belt. Always be on the lookout to see if there is water leaking from your vehicle.

Irregular use of your vehicle

Annoyingly, when you don't drive your vehicle regularly, this can cause your timing belt to become stiff. This can lead to the timing belt needing replacing sooner rather than later compared to vehicles that are driven on a regular basis.

One great way to see whether your timing belt is still in good condition is through frequent visual checks. If the surface of the belt looks worn out or there are cracks forming, we recommend that you get it changed as soon as you can.  

We recommend that before you set off for a long journey, be sure to visit your local garage to have your timing belt checked.

If you believe you are having issues with your timing belt, a timing belt service is required in order to replace or repair the component. Please feel free to visit your local garage or contact us the meantime if you have any other enquires.

Further reading

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