The timing belt works to synchronize your car's crankshaft and camshaft's rotations to ensure your engine's valves open and close at the proper times. Essentially, when the timing is off, the top and bottom halves of your engine are no longer in sync.
At the moment a timing belt fails, the valves get stuck in the position they are in, but momentum forces the pistons forward directly into the valves, damaging them.
Even a loose timing belt can cause problems. The belt can loosen causing it to skip a tooth resulting in out-of-sync timing. Issues with timing can cause serious problems such as misfiring or a decline in power.
My timing belt snapped: Is my car a lost cause?
The main fear behind a broken timing belt is the need to replace the engine. Often drivers decide to cut their losses and invest in another car. But potential damage to your engine depends on your car's type of timing configuration.
The pistons and valves in an interference engine share space in the same cylinder, so when the belt snaps, there's no device in between to prevent friction. They can grind against each other, often causing irreparable damage to the cylinder wall and valves.
If you have a non-interference engine, the valves and pistons aren't forced into each other when the belt breaks because they don't take up space in the cylinder. There is no damage to valves, pistons, or cylinders, and timing belt replacement is relatively simple.
When should I replace my timing belt to prevent disaster?
It's best to be aware of upcoming timing belt replacement rather than risk a break. If you don't have an owner's manual to check the replacement interval, inspect your time belt for damage like cuts, cracks, or signs of excessive wear and tear.
Any indication of damage means a trip to the mechanic is necessary to save you time, money, and hassle in the future.
Want to know what type of engine you have or need a timing belt replacement? Bring your vehicle into our auto repair shop today.