The timing belt is a critical component in many vehicles. This strip of rubber is responsible for driving the engine and keeping it running efficiently. Most modern cars with an overhead cam engine will run off a timing belt and a few models have chains. When these belts or (rarely) chains break, some models may need a complete engine replacement. When looking at purchasing a used car, it is important to pay extra attention to this component of the car.
Since belts are more likely to break than chains, it is important to know which models have which. When you have decided on which model you want to buy or you see a particular car in a lot that you want to purchase, check if it has a timing belt. If the salesperson is not sure, look it up or call the manufacturer. Many manufacturers use both belts and chains on different models. Usually higher-end or heavier cars will have chains, but it is not always the rule. It might also help to know if the car has an "interference" type of engine. "Interference" engines become unusable if the belt breaks and have to be replaced if it does.
It is usually recommended that timing belts need to be changed at about 60,000 miles. Some models may need to have them replaced sooner. Many models are covered by the manufacturer's warranty if they break before that time. Check on your model's recommended replacement intervals and any warranties. Also, check for consumer complaints of belts breaking before this time. Timing chains require little maintenance and have fewer problems. Most chains will stretch over time and will show signs of timing issues before breaking.
If the car you are considering is coming close to 60,000 miles or higher, find out if its timing belt has been changed. If there is no evidence of it being done, consider having it done just in case. No matter what the amount of mileage on your car, have it inspected by a mechanic. Be sure to mention that you are concerned about the condition of the timing belt. Though the entire belt is hard to check without taking the cover off, there is usually an easily accessible inspection area.
Buying and owning a car that has a timing belt and interference engine is nothing to be fearful of. But, it's important to be aware of the issues and special considerations they have. When buying a used car, it's important to know more about them because their repair history is unknown. Being prepared will mean thousands of miles of worry free driving. For more tips, contact a company like Gagel's Auto Sales.