How to Diagnose a Worn Timing Belt

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Trying to figure out if it's time for a new timing belt? Here's how to diagnose a worn timing belt that needs to be changed.

One of the most common repair and maintenance projects you will find with most modern cars, is changing your vehicles timing belt. It is an essential part that you car can not operate with out, which makes it an important one to be watchful for. Know the signs and symptoms of a worn timing belt can save you time and money.

How do you know what it's time to change your timing belt?


Open your hood and take a look at the belt. It should be to the left of your engine or directly in front of the engine. Does it look tattered? Cracked? broken anywhere? These can all indicate it's time to change your belt.


When you start your engine, rev up the gas pedal very quickly and release it. What do you hear? Any clicking? Popping (like popcorn)? These can also be signs of a worn out timing belt.

Does your engine squeal when you start it? This is another symptom of a worn belt.


What does it feel like when you drive your vehicle? Is it sluggish? Does it have a hard time going up hills? Is it slow to accelerate?

Go under the hood and give the timing belt a good hard yank. Does it slip or move at all? Is it really loose, a little lose or really taunt?


Do you smell burning rubber at any time? This can sometimes mean the belt is so worn it's starting to melt from the heat of the engine.

If all else fails, you can usually take your vehicle into a quick stop auto shop and have them tell you if it's time. As a general rule of thumb, you will want to change your timing belt at least once every 12 months or every 60,000 miles or so. This can save you half the worry of diagnosing a worn timing belt, as the manufacturers generally give them a year or around 80,000 miles before they might crack or break on you.

Having a timing belt break on you while you are driving or away from your home can be a traumatic experience, which makes it a wise choice to make sure your timing belt is as new as possible. Not only that, but by keeping up regular maintenance of your timing belt, you can save in the gas tank, on the breaks and in the wallet!


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