Car Care Tips

Tips to keep your car on the road.

Maintenance August 29, 2017

What is a Timing Belt and Why is It Important?

What is a timing belt?

Timing belts are a vital part of your engine. Without them, the moving components of your engine would not be synchronized, and ultimately, your car would not be powered adequately.

It’s important to understand exactly how timing belts work, why they are important, and how to tell if it’s time for a replacement.

Read: The Car Mainentance Checklist Every Driver Needs

What is a Timing Belt?

Think of a timing belt like a bike chain for your vehicle — it functions to keep all internal moving parts of an engine working together in time. The timing belt has hard teeth that interlock with the cog wheels of the crankshaft and the two camshafts. As you drive, the belt rotates the two camshafts which open and close valves. This allows fuel-air mixture to enter and leave the engine combustion chamber. While the fuel-air mixture is in the combustion chamber, a piston drives upward to compress the gas. A spark ignites the gas and pushes the piston back down, which drives the car.

For a comprehensive visual overview, check out our video where a Virginia Tire & Auto service manager explains your timing belt.

Why are Timing Belts Important?

The timing belt ensures that the intake and exhaust valves open and close in time with the piston going up and down by driving the cogs of both camshafts at the same time of the crankshaft.

If the crankshaft and camshafts are not operating in unison, the vehicle will not run correctly and can potentially cause serious damage. If the intake valves open too early, there may not be enough fuel-air mixture flowing into the combustion chamber. If the exhaust valves open too early, the combustion chamber loses pressure and causes a loss in power. If the engine components are very out of sync, they can potentially collide and damage each other, leading to a costly repair.

Timing Belt Replacement

With the potential for dangerous driving conditions and costly repairs,  it’s important to replace your timing belt at the mileage intervals your vehicle manufacturer recommends. Every manufacturer is different, but typically, they are replaced between 70,000 and 100,000 miles. Because the timing belt is rubber, it eventually wears down and breaks. When it breaks, the engine components run out of sync. If the engine components are damaged, replacing them requires intensive and expensive engine repair.

Read: Do I Need to Replace My Timing Belt?

There are quite a few benefits of keeping your timing belt in tip-top shape. In addition to avoiding expensive auto repair costs, replacing your timing belt can help increase horsepower and acceleration and give you better gas mileage.

Timing Belt Repair & Replacement at Virginia Tire & Auto

Replacing the timing belt before it breaks will prevent potential engine damage and save you money in the long run. If you’re unsure about when your timing belt needs to be replaced, stop by Virginia Tire & Auto today. Our ASE-certified, expert technicians will examine your vehicle, identify any damage to your belt, and replace it with quality service at an affordable price.

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