The timing belt is the part of the engine that controls the rhythm and timing of the engine valves. Because it has a tendency to break after about 100,000 miles or so, this is one part of the engine that a responsible car owner should not overlook. In case the timing belt breaks at high RPMs, there is a tendency for pistons to bend and break, which would require a more expensive repair.
Replacing the timing belt can be quite easily done in the privacy and comfort of your own garage or driveway, as long as you have the right tools. Remember that you will usually need to lift the engine from the engine bay to access the timing belt. Most mechanics recommend that you also change the water pump as well since the pump also has to be removed in the process. Here's a step by step guide to replacing your timing belt.
- Detach the battery and remove the distributor cap. You will have to check the cam position center before proceeding if your car doesn't have a distributor cap. You can refer to your car's repair manual to know what the recommendations for your car are. The processes are different from car to car.
- Crank the engine and align the timing mark on the crankshaft pulley with the "0" mark on the timing scale. Do the same for the distributor rotor. This has to be on the same level as the index mark on the distributor housing.
- Disengage and loosen bolts, screws and belts that may hinder the removal of the timing belt. Again, this might vary from car to car. There might be slight differences on how these belts should be removed. Consult the manual of your car to know the next step.
- Loosen up the tension on the timing belt and mounting bolts but do not remove it yet. Move the tensioner away from the belt and increase the tension bolts used for mounting to hold the tensioner in its place.
- Simply slip the timing belt out and remove it from the engine rig. After all the loosening and unscrewing that you've done, it should be pretty easy to just slide the entire belt off.
- Take the new timing belt and do the removal steps in reverse to attach it back to the engine rig. Tighten the tensioner bolts with the same amount of tension as with the original setting. You can refer to your car's repair manual, if you are unsure. Again, keep the marks on the crankshaft pulleys aligned at all times to ensure a smooth ride.
- Replace all parts and the engine's cover. You might have to use silicon sealant on the engine cap's rubber gasket, to make sure it's tight enough for motor oil not to seep out.
After you've replaced the timing belt, you might have to adjust your car's timing accordingly. If you don't have a timing gun, you can pay your local garage a visit for a tune up. Replacing the timing belt is actually really inexpensive, especially compared to bigger repairs that you need, should the belt fail. It's a bit labor-intensive, though, and it requires some mechanical proficiency on your part.