The timing belt is one of the most important components of any engine, it is also one that very few people actually understand or realize it’s important. The most part, more and more people today have taken a less hands on approach to their automobiles. In other words, they know less about functionality of various components and therefore don’t really truly understand or appreciate the importance of timing belt replacement.
The timing belt controls, essentially, the timing of the spark plugs, when they fire, and the order in which they fire. If the timing belt is loose it can have a direct impact on engine performance. If it is to loose or breaks, it will cause the engine to completely stop working.
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Back in the older days, when timing belts were actually chains, and you were driving down the road when the chain broke, it could create enough force within the engine so that the cylinder piston could drive through the chamber and cracked the head gasket. It could even cause significant damage to the engine block.
Today, if the timing belt breaks, there is still always that risk of doing an incredible amount of damage to the engine. However, more and more vehicles are equipped with sensing equipment that will shut down the engine as soon as the timing belt begins to fail. This can save a considerable amount of money when you consider how much it costs to replace an engine block or repair a head gasket and all of the components that go along with it.
Ask yourself a simple question: do you pay attention to the fluid levels, condition of the hoses, and condition of the belts under the hood of your car? If you are like more than 80 percent of the people who drive in Sacramento or the rest of the country, then you will answer no. That’s because most people have a tendency to rely on auto repair facilities and service centers throughout the area for these issues, and that includes timing belt replacement.
If you bring your car into a service center on a regular basis for oil changes and general inspections, then the service technician should be able to tell you when the timing belt is beginning to show signs of potential wear. This can include cracks and even ships coming out of the timing belt.
One common point of confusion for some people is the difference between a serpentine belt and a timing belt with regard to replacement. Some vehicles rely on a serpentine belt as the only major drive belt in the engine. This would also be the timing belt, so replacing it needs to be done with precision and that includes tightening the pulleys and making sure that the belt is not too loose or too tight to throw off the timing.
More cars today rely on computer technology to enforce the timing, ultimately. However, the timing all begins with the belt and any time it needs replacement, it should be done as soon as possible.
Below are three reasons why timing belt replacement is so important for your vehicle in Sacramento or anywhere else.
- Timing belt controls the engine.
As we noted, the timing belt is responsible for all of the cylinders and sparks from the spark plugs in the engine. In a four-cylinder engine, you will have four pistons that move up and down cylinders and ultimately compress the fuel and air mixture that gets fired by the spark plugs. As the piston rises and compresses the chamber, the intake valve opens to allow fuel and air to enter the chamber. When the piston reaches its highest point and compression is at its peak, the spark plug ignites the fuel and air mixture. The exhaust is vacated through the exhaust valve and power is generated.
This occurs in every single cylinder of the engine many times per second. When you consider just how fast these components are moving, if the spark plug ignites before peak compression, the fuel might not ignite. If that happens, the car can run incredibly rough, get poor fuel efficiency, and lose power.
A timing belt that is loose because it is old may be causing performance issues that could not only be damaging the engine, it could be costing you money with regard to gas and fuel efficiency.
- Without it, the engine simply won’t run.
If the timing belt breaks, the engine will stop running. If you are lucky, no damage will result from this if you are driving when it breaks. If you are parked in the driveway and a timing belt has just broken, then you can turn the key and the engine will turn as a result the starter motor, but it won’t run. That is because the sparks are not igniting as a result of the timing belt not turning.
- If it breaks while you’re on the highway, it can be dangerous and damaging.
As we mentioned, the amount of force that is generated within the engine while you are driving is intense. If the timing belt breaks, it has the potential to cause the piston to be shoot through the cylinder and break the head gasket and it can even crack the engine block. An engine block that gets cracked will need to be completely replace, which could be several thousand dollars, depending on the car you drive, the size of the engine, and the availability of a replacement engine block.
Usually, there is absolutely no reason why timing belt replacement should be ignored. Yes, it can be an expense, but like most other auto repair jobs, it is important. It is one of the most important things you can do when a mechanic tells you that the belt is beginning to show significant signs of wear and that you should seriously consider replacement of the timing belt.