Your car's timing belt is sealed in its own housing, making it extremely difficult to check on your own. Timing belts should be left to an experienced technician who has experience dealing with them. An experienced mechanic will know the tell-tale signs of wear, as well as other potential issues that could affect the condition of the timing belt, operation, and other engine systems and functions.
What Does A Timing Belt Do?
Think of it this way, your engine won’t run without a fully functioning timing belt.
The timing belt rotates the cam and crankshaft of the engine in unison to ensure that each piston burns at the right time. The timing belt controls the movement of the pistons and valves inside the engine cylinders to ensure that the pistons open the valves in perfect time. If this pacing is off, the engine can run unpredictable, if it's running at all.
The timing belt is usually located inside a casing, or a cover, which protects it from all the gas, dust, and dirt that can flow into and around the engine compartment. It is usually made of industrial-strength rubber with nylon-reinforced cords inside. It is subject to a lot of stress and strain as it works to keep things moving, all regulated in good time. Even if it is made to last, it will eventually have to be replaced.
Rubber timing belts are used in the vast majority of engines found in small cars and SUVs, especially 4 cylinders–but some cars do not have timing belts. For larger engines with more power, the timing belt is replaced by a timing chain that looks like a bicycle chain. Metal chains serve the same purpose as belts, but last a long time. Some manufacturers recommend changing the chain at certain intervals, but not the same as the rubber timing belts. Many vendors say that there is no need to remove the chain and that it will last as long as the vehicle. The downside to the chains is that if they break, they will cause a lot of harm than a rubber belt failure.Both scenario aren't great, and both may require costly repairs–but a failed timing belt may only result in engine header repairs, while a failed timing chain may require a complete engine overhaul (or a new car, if you prefer).
How Do You Know If It Will Fail?
Even though it's tough to get a visual or physical check on the timing belt, there are some signs that you can be aware of that hint of trouble with the timing belt. Pay attention to these indicators so that you don't end up with costly repairs or, worse still, a ruined engine.
Ticking/ Clicking Noises In The Engine
When the timing belt is worn out, it can cause a ticking or clicking sound to emanate from the engine. Because the belt is attached to the engine cam and crankshaft by means of a series of pulleys, and these complex systems are regulated by the timing belt, if there is something wrong on either side–the belt or the cam / crankshaft–this sound is a sign of trouble. This sound can also indicate low oil pressure, which can, in turn, affect the timing belt. There is a tensioner that holds the belt steady, and that tensioner is pressurized by the engine oil. If the tensioner does not have an oil pressure, the belt will loosen and possibly disengage from the pulleys and/or break. Also, if the camshafts end up locking up, which will result in breakage of the timing belt
Engine Runs Misfires/ Runs Rugged
A worn out belt may affect the pacing of the engine, and may cause it to misfire. As stated earlier in the article, the timing belt controls the precisely timed operation of the pistons and valves inside the engine cylinders to ensure that the valves are opened in accordance with the pistons. If the belt is dirty and loose, it slides and allows the valves to open and close faster than they should. If this pacing is off, the engine can run unpredictable, if it's running at all. Engine misfire is a sign of trouble that should be tested as soon as possible, otherwise you risk serious engine damage.
Engine Won’t Start
There are a lot of reasons the engine won't start, and a broken timing belt is one of the more expensive ones. Luckily, it's hard to ignore the fact that your car doesn't function, so the odds that the timing belt will be identified as a source are much higher than if you continue going or ignoring the problem until it becomes serious. Of course, if the timing belt breaks while you're riding, you'll definitely notice! So simply put, a damaged timing belt ensures that the vehicle will not start, and there may be other damage to the engine. The starter engine will engage, but the car won't turn over–it won't tease you, there won't be any response.
Sharp, Squealing Sounds
Squealing can occur at different times, such as accelerating, decelerating and braking, or just idling. Whenever that irritating noise happens, a mechanic should pay attention to it and check it out. There are a few possible causes for such sounds to come from your vehicle, and all of them may mean repairs–but if it's a damaged timing belt on the verge of cracking, it's best to know! Get your car to a mechanic right away.