The internal combustion engine in an automobile has a crankshaft and camshaft. These components must rotate together so that the combustion in the cylinders can occur at the appropriate timing. The only way the crankshaft and camshaft can rotate in synchronization is to connect a timing belt to them.
The timing belt is usually installed in the front of the engine. It works to sustain the rotation of the crankshaft and camshaft to keep the engine running and operational. A combination of durable rubber and nylon reinforcements are used to make the timing belt. These materials can resist wear and tear for quite a long time, but not forever.
Each time you drive your car, the timing belt gets a little bit worn. The continuous stress put on the timing belt will eventually cause its teeth to deteriorate. If the strain on the timing belt continues without any replacement, the belt will slip off track and slide into the gears. Sometimes the belt will snap altogether too.
Timing belt replacement costs are not as cheap as you might think. Most of the expense goes toward the labor costs because it requires the mechanic to access the inside of the engine. That is always a big job that takes a lot of time and effort.
The timing belt itself costs between $25 and $60. However, the labor costs could range anywhere from $200 to $700. It all depends on how easy or difficult it is for the mechanic to access the engine in your particular make and model vehicle. It also depends on how much they charge per hour for their labor services.
Overall, you can expect to pay between $225 and $760 for a timing belt replacement.
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The Top 4 Symptoms
Your engine cannot run without a stable and robust timing belt. That is why it is best to replace your timing belt before it becomes malfunctional. Just look for any of the following four symptoms of a bad timing belt. Then you will know it is time to replace it.
1) Ticking Noises
The most common symptom of a bad timing belt is strange ticking sounds coming from the engine. If your timing belt loosens from excessive wear and tear, it will make these ticking noises when it moves along the pulleys. The noises will continue to get louder and longer unless you replace the timing belt promptly.
2) Rough Idle
Many things can cause a rough idling engine. One of those things happens to be a bad timing belt. You’ll recognize a rough idle if your car shakes or vibrates after it stops moving. These symptoms indicate the timing belt probably slipped off track, causing the camshaft to stop rotating correctly.
3) Engine Misfire
The timing belt has a significant impact on the engine firing rate. If the timing belt is worn out, it will throw off the firing rate. In other words, the engine cylinders would not open and close at the correct times. That will lead to an engine misfire problem. You must replace the timing belt immediately to avoid permanent engine damage.
4) Smoky Engine
It is common for smoke to come out of your tailpipe. The smoke is often more visible whenever it is cold outside. You see it the most right after you start your engine. The smoke tends to become less visible a few minutes after your engine starts.
However, if you continue to see white smoke come out of your tailpipe or your engine itself, it means you could have a bad timing belt. The exhaust system will release exhaust fumes at the wrong times because the camshaft and crankshaft are no longer synchronized. Only a new timing belt can fix this problem.