Summary: How is your car's timing belt? Have you checked it lately? Avoid being stranded or incurring a hefty repair bill by changing the timing belt before a problem arises.
So, how is your car's timing belt doing? Have you changed it lately? If, ever? If not, you must make certain that the timing belt hasn't been driven too many miles or you could be driving on borrowed time. Typically, a timing belt will last anywhere from about 60,000 miles to just over 100,000 miles; your owner's manual will spell that information out for you. A failed timing belt can occur at any time, but if you are on top of things you can avoid being left stranded.
A timing belt is used to turn the camshaft at precisely half the speed as the crankshaft. The camshaft causes the intake and exhaust valves to open and shut in time with the pistons as they move up and down in the cylinders. When the timing belt breaks, you aren't going anywhere as the engine can no longer run. In some cases a timing belt failure could damage or even ruin a car's engine. Unfortunately, too many motorists do not replace their timing belt until it has broken. This can be a real problem when you are miles away from the nearest help!
There is no absolute certain way to check that a timing belt has worn out. Instead, changing it at prescribed intervals will lessen the chance that the timing belt will break before it is replaced. In addition, many mechanics advise changing the water pump at the same time as the timing belt - even if it hasn't failed - as most of the labor related to replacing a water pump has already been accomplished when changing the timing belt. This is your call as a water pump could last as long as your car or it could fail at some future point. If the latter, you could be faced with a big repair bill in addition to the inconvenience of having your car out of commission for several days.
Many weekend mechanics feel comfortable enough to replace their car's timing belt themselves. With a trusty Chilton or Haynes auto maintenance and repair manual by your side you can pop the hood and remove and replace the timing belt in no time. Shop via a reputable online wholesaler such as the Timing Belt Pros to compare your replacement timing belt options and to find a product that is right for you. Save a bundle of money by doing the work yourself and avoid the hassles and expense of traveling to your dealer's repair shop.