What Is a Timing Belt And When Should It Be Replaced?

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What Is a Timing Belt?

Nissan timing belt info.
Change your timing belt at these intervals. chart

The timing belt is a belt alongside your engine that ensures your car's crank and camshafts work appropriately. It keeps your engine running in sync. If it snaps, you can run into serious problems.

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Does My Car Have a Timing Belt?

If your car is 20 years old or more, you probably have a timing belt. Manufacturers started to phase out the timing belt in favor of a metal timing chain in the 1990's. Unlike the belt, timing chains can last for your car's lifetime. Timing belts, on the other hand, need to be replaced at certain intervals to keep your car working.

If you're not sure if your car has a timing belt or not, you can check your owner's manual or look up the maintenance schedule online. If you don't see a timing belt on your list of routine repairs, you don't have one. If you do, it's important to stick to the recommended schedule to prevent bigger issues. But timing belts can snap ahead of schedule, so having it checked during routine inspections is a good idea.

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When Should I Replace My Timing Belt?

Every manufacturer has a different timeline for when they recommend you replace your timing belt. However, you usually will need to replace it when your car hits 60,000 miles or after five years, whichever comes first. And having a professional replace your timing belt can cost hundreds, depending on your car's make and model. That's why it's a good idea to know ahead of time when you'll likely need to have it replaced, so you can budget and plan accordingly.

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What Happens If the Timing Belt Snaps?

If your timing belt accidentally snaps ahead of its replacement, it can have serious implications for your engine and car. Depending on what type of engine you have, a broken timing belt can cause bent valves and camshaft damage. You can end up spending hundreds or even thousands to repair the damage, or you may have to replace the whole engine.

​Find out ahead of time if you have an interference engine or a non-interference version. A snapped timing belt can destroy a non-interference engine, giving you a huge bill.

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Can I Replace the Timing Belt Myself?

While you can replace the timing belt on your own, it 's not an easy task a beginner should tackle. It requires some mechanical knowledge and specialized parts. However, if you have the skill and the time, it can save you a lot of money. Buying just the parts and doing it on your own will cost significantly less; the parts are usually around $200.

If you're not sure where to start or are not confident in your abilities, you may want to consider hiring a professional to do it for you. If you make a mistake in the replacement, you could end up with costly problems.

By being armed with information about the timing belt's purpose and replacement schedule, you can ensure your car runs smoothly.