Bad Timing Belt Symptoms


What is a timing belt?

Depending on the type of car, you may either have a timing belt or timing chain. Both are important in rotating the crank shaft so that the cylinders in your car can move up and down. If the timing belt were to break, then the cylinders do not move which completely immobilizes your car. Without a timing belt, cylinders wont move, air can’t get in the engine, and exhaust can’t escape.

It is recommended that you replace your timing belt every 60,000 miles or about every 5 years. Timing chains are more durable than belts and are meant to last the entire life of the engine. This is why many car companies are switching back to timing chains. But if you have a specific type of vehicle, such as an Audi, you still need to worry about timing belts. Replacing a timing belt can be a difficult job to repair since a mechanic will many times need to take off the water pump and possibly the radiator. Many mechanics will also recommend when you change your timing belt that you also replace the water pump since it will save you in labor costs. Like the expression goes, you’re killing two birds with one stone.

Symptoms of a Bad Timing Belt


Timing belts have teeth to grab onto the gears that rotate different parts of the engine. When a belt starts to lose teeth it will make the timing belt slip. This slipping causes the engine to jolt from the force of the timing belt teeth catching on the gears. This process also throws off the timing of the opening and closing of the exhaust and fuel intake causing the engine to stall or sputter.

High Pitch Squeal

Much like your brakes when they wear thin, you will start to notice a high pitch squeal when you start or run the engine. If you think that you are hearing unusual noises coming from the engine, keep the engine running and open up the hood. This will help to pinpoint where the sound is coming from. If the sound is coming from the front of the engine, where the timing  belt is located, you may need to get it checked by a mechanic.

Exhaust Issues

Excessive smoke coming from your tailpipe can be hard to diagnose as we roll into winter. However, if you see far more smoke than usual, it could also be a timing belt issue. There are two holes in the top of each cylinder which releases exhaust and takes in air. These holes open and close in sync with the motion of the cylinders and rotation of the camshaft. If the timing is off due to a bad timing belt, the two holes may release exhaust or take in air at the wrong times. This can cause excessive smoke to be released from your exhaust.

You can visually inspect the timing belt for any worn down teeth or cracks in the belt. Make sure your engine is off before you begin inspecting the condition of the timing belt.

Many times if your engine has had problems with oil leaks where your timing belt is located, it can cause the belt to wear out faster. Oil that is leaked onto the timing belt will soften the belt over time which means more frequent timing belt replacements.

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Is your car over 5 years old or has more than 60,000? Feel free to give us a call and set up an appointment to change your timing belt. specializes in European auto repairs and maintenance. We strive to keep our service cost 40% less than dealerships. Schedule an appointment for your Audi, BMW, Land Rover, Mercedes, Mini Cooper, or Volkswagen with us

Written by Spotlight Automotive