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The cambelt, or timing belt, is a vital engine component with a key role to play in keeping your motor running smoothly. It ensures the top and bottom halves of your engine rotate precisely in time with each other.
Essentially, this ribbed rubber belt with teeth synchronises the crankshaft and camshaft’s rotation. It controls sequencing and timing of the opening and closing of the valves on the cylinders in your engine to provide the right combustion.
Camshafts, made up of the main journals, the lobes (or bulges) and the ends, control the valves in the cylinder head. A rocker head takes the spinning motion of an overhead camshaft and turns it into the movement that opens and closes the valves.
Timing chains essentially perform the same function as cambelts, but may be slightly noisier. The chains generally last as long as the vehicle (and generally require less frequent replacing), although the plastic guides they run over may not.
Like most car parts, your timing belt will wear out eventually due to cracking, snapping or tearing. But there’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach for how often to replace yours – a lot depends on your motor’s age and condition. Timing belts are also unpredictable, with few warning signs of damage. (Although starting issues and noise may offer clues.)
Driving your car infrequently, oil leaks and temperature changes, among other factors, can all play their part.
There’s also huge variation between manufacturers and different engines. So you might need a new belt after four years, or six, or after driving 40,000 or 100,000 miles. Consult your car’s manual – most manufacturers’ recommendations are based on time passed or miles driven, depending on which elapses first.
However, we’d always suggest treating these recommendations as a maximum, and erring on the side of caution.
A broken timing belt is potentially highly damaging to your vehicle, not to mention your wallet. Especially in an interference-type engine, valves can bend, cylinder heads and camshafts can become damaged, and the pistons and cylinder walls too. But whatever kind of engine you have, ignoring recommended cambelt change intervals is a never a great idea.
Replacing a timing belt is a labour and time-intensive process that you wouldn’t want to undertake yourself. It’s the skill needed from qualified mechanics, and the time involved, that tend to push up the bill.
That’s because several other parts usually have to come away from the engine before the belt cover can be accessed.
At Fixter, we have unique access to a network of independent partner garages, all of which we know personally and which have passed a strict 25-point inspection. We also offer door-to-door car collection, a 12-month warranty on parts and labour, and transparent, affordable pricing, so you know you’ll be in safe hands. Pop in your registration details to book a timing belt replacement today.
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