Automotive Tips from The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley: Knowing When Your Timing Belt Should Be Replaced
Aug 21, 2016
The timing belt in your engine controls the opening and closing of the intake and exhaust valves. Lancaster drivers need to replace it on a schedule to avoid failure.
Timing belts are very difficult to get to, requiring quite a bit of labor to access. Timing belt replacement is one of the more expensive maintenance services, but the cost at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley to correct an engine damaged by a broken timing belt is much, much more.
The timing belt has a tensioner to help maintain proper belt tension. The tensioner should be replaced along with the timing belt and any idler pulleys at the vehicle manufacturer’s specified service interval. Your The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley service advisor can help you with the timing belt.
Automotive Tips from The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley: Timing Belt Overview
Aug 15, 2016
In your engine, valves over each combustion chamber open to allow fresh air in, close during the combustion event, and then other valves open to let out the exhaust. All of this happens over and over thousands of times a minute when you are driving around Lancaster. The timing belt’s important job is to make sure that all of this happens as it should – at precisely the right time. If the timing is off, your engine won’t run efficiently or maybe not at all – so a good timing belt is important. If it should break, you could end up at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley with expensive engine damage.
Ask your friendly and professional The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley service advisor when your timing belt is scheduled for replacement.
Lancaster Car Owners Ask: Why Do I Need to Change My Serpentine Belt?
Jul 25, 2016
Any Lancaster driver who understands preventive maintenance knows that “if it ain't broke, don't fix it” is bad auto advice. Replacing a part before it breaks is much less costly for Lancaster residents than repairing the engine damage that comes after a part breaks or fails. A good example of this is the serpentine belt.
The serpentine belt gets its name because of its circuitous path around the engine. The serpentine belt is driven by the engine and powers a number of systems, as follows:
1. The serpentine belt spins the compressor that generates the cool air for the air conditioning system. 2. The serpentine belt powers the alternator. The alternator generates electricity for use in the vehicle's electrical systems and to charge the battery. Without the alternator, the battery wouldn't last more than a few miles. 3. In many Lancaster residents' vehicles, the serpentine belt runs the pumps for both the power steering and the power brakes. In other vehicles, the power steering pump may be electric and the power brakes may use a vacuum boost. 4. On many vehicles, the serpentine belt powers the water pump. The water pump keeps coolant circulating through to maintain appropriate operating temperatures. In some California vehicles, a timing belt runs the water pump.
When a serpentine belt fails, all of these systems fail as well, which can lead to engine impact.
Replacing parts before they break saves money for Lancaster residents by preventing more repairs and the frustration of having your vehicle in the shop for an extended period of time. If you're looking for an adage to apply to good car care, you might remember the old story of how “for want of a nail, the kingdom was lost.”
Ask The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley: What Happens When a Serpentine Belt Breaks?
May 23, 2016
The serpentine belt is aptly named since it snakes around under your hood. It may lack its namesake's fangs, but it sure packs a wallop when it breaks.
The serpentine belt powers a lot of engine systems. It runs the alternator, which charges the battery; the water pump (on some vehicles), which cools the engine; the air conditioning, which cools the driver and passengers; and the power steering pump, which allows for easier steering. When the belt breaks, all of these systems shut down.
Okay, so maybe you can live without air conditioning and power steering for a while, but your battery can't live very long without an alternator, and when the cooling system goes down, your vehicle engine will overheat. That's why Lancaster drivers should never wait to get a serpentine belt replaced.
Serpentine belts are fairly inexpensive at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley in Lancaster. And they look downright cheap when you compare them to the cost of an overheated vehicle engine, a tow truck, time lost on the road, inconvenience, and the potential safety consequences of being stranded.
Good car care means never putting off preventive maintenance. Do yourself a favor. Ask your friendly and knowledgeable The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley technician to glance under your hood and give that serpentine belt a quick look-over.
Combustion Choreography: Timing Belt Replacement at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley in Lancaster
Mar 13, 2016
Have you ever seen a ballet performance? Have you wondered how all of those dancers manage to travel all over the stage jumping and twirling and never crash into each other? That's the job of a choreographer.
Our auto engines are also highly choreographed. Pistons travel up and down inside cylinders. Valves at the tops of the cylinders open to let air and fuel in or exhaust out. These valves have to open and close at precisely the right time or the engine will run poorly if at all. The movement of the valves and pistons must be in harmony with each other. This choreography is the job of the timing belt or timing chain.
Timing belts, or chains, rotate the shafts that control the opening and closing of the valves. Timing chains are metal and durable enough that they may never need to be replaced.
Most vehicles, however, use a timing belt. Timing belts are tough and flexible, and considering the work they do, they last a long time for Lancaster auto owners . But they do wear out. If they break, the consequences for Lancaster drivers can spell disaster.
No matter what kind of engine you have, a broken timing belt will cause the engine to shut down or will lead to major engine damage. But in some engines, the valves protrude down into the cylinders enough that if the timing belt breaks, the pistons can smash the valves, bending or breaking them. If the engine is spinning fast enough, the broken parts can then shred the cylinder head. This adds to thousands of dollars of engine damage.
The only way the damage can be avoided by Lancaster auto owners is by replacing the timing belt on schedule. Most vehicle manufacturers recommend replacing the timing belt at 60,000 miles (100,000 kilometers), but others can go as long as 90,000 or 100,000 miles (145,000 to 160,000 kilometers). Check the schedule for preventive maintenance in your owner's manual. If you're due or overdue for a timing belt replacement, don't put it off. Get it done now at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley in Lancaster.
Your friendly and knowledgeable The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley technicians probably aren't great dancers, but they can offer you some great auto advice on how to keep your engine properly choreographed. Don't hesitate to consult them about replacing your timing belt or any other car care concerns you may have.
Automotive Tips from The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley: A Broken or Damaged Timing Belt
Dec 16, 2015
The timing belt rotates the cam shafts which open and close the valves that allow air, fuel, and exhaust to flow through the engine as it powers your car when you drive around Lancaster.
An old timing belt can lose a “tooth” in the belt allowing it to slip. The engine could stop or misfire. Timing belt slips – or a broken timing belt – can be disastrous on some engines. In “interference” engines, open valves can get in the way of the piston when the timing belt breaks or slips. When that happens one or more valves can be bent requiring expensive engine repairs.
It is important for Lancaster drivers to replace their timing belts as recommended in their owner’s manual to avoid unnecessary breakdowns. Ask the team of professionals at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley in Lancaster if it’s time for your timing belt to be replaced.
Good Timing: Proper Timing Belt Replacement Saves Money for Lancaster Drivers
Jun 05, 2015
Knowing how their engine works can help Lancaster drivers make informed decisions about auto care and prevent repairs to their vehicles. This is especially true when it comes to timing belts.
An engine's power is generated in the cylinders. Inside the cylinder is a piston that moves up and down while the engine is running. Power is generated in a cycle that includes four strokes of the piston. First, the piston drops and a valve at the top of the cylinder opens to let in fuel and air. The piston then rises, which compresses the fuel and air. At this point, the spark plug fires, igniting the fuel and pushing the piston down. This downstroke transfers energy to the engine, which provides the power it needs to run. The piston rises again, and a valve opens to release the exhaust.
All of this movement is orchestrated by a timing belt. The timing belt is so named because it keeps the pistons and valves operating in synch with each other, just as a conductor keeps all of the instruments in an orchestra in time with one another. Thus, the timing belt is critical to the proper operation of your engine.
Not all vehicles in the Lancaster area have timing belts. Some have timing chains. A timing chain is more durable and rarely breaks, but timing belts are cheaper, so many use them to save money.
Timing belts wear out and break, so part of preventive maintenance for Lancaster drivers is to replace the timing belt on schedule.
The results of failure of a timing belt depend on the type of engine in your vehicle, but they are always inconvenient and can be very costly for Lancaster auto owners. If your engine is a non-interference engine and the timing belt breaks, the engine simply stops running. Now that can be an incredibly inconvenient situation depending on where you are driving around Lancaster when it breaks, but it won't cause any engine damage. On the other hand, if your vehicle has an interference engine and the timing belt breaks, the valves on your cylinders will actually fall into the path of the pistons. Then things start getting chewed up by the motion of the engine and it will cost thousands of dollars to get everything sorted out again. Compounding the problem is that there aren't any warning signs before a timing belt breaks. A visual inspection of the belt is difficult also. In some vehicles, parts of the belt may be visible, but most vehicles hide the belt under a cover.
The timing belt doesn't even have to break to cause major engine damage. If it slips, even one notch, the result could be engine damage with repair costs in the thousands of dollars.
Our only car care option is to simply replace the timing belt periodically. You can check your owner's manual to find out how often your timing belt should be replaced. Many vehicles need a replacement at 60,000 miles (100,000 kilometers), but the recommended replacement mileage could be as high as 90,000 or 100,000 miles (145,000 to 160,000 kilometers). If your owner's manual recommends replacement at 60,000 miles (100,000 kilometers), however, don't wait until 65,000 miles (105,000 kilometers) to get it done. Remember what you're risking.
Replacing a timing belt is not a cheap part of preventive maintenance for Lancaster vehicle owners. The belt is usually difficult to get to and often requires removal of some of the engine accessories. The cost of the replacement, however, is a lot less than what the repairs may cost if the timing belt fails.
For more auto advice on timing belts and other engine components, you can always consult with your service advisor at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley. When it comes to car care, ignorance is not bliss. It can end up costing you in a big way.
Timing Belt Service to Save Big Bucks in Lancaster
Aug 01, 2013
Your engine is like a finely choreographed dance. All the parts have to work together. If the timing is off at the ballet, dancers crash into each other and fall down. It the timing is off in your engine, it may not run at all. One of the most intricate dances in your engine has to do with the combustion cycle.
Your vehicle engine has cylinders in which a piston travels up and down. At the top of the cylinders are valves that open to bring in the air and fuel. And there are valves that open to let out the exhaust after the fuel has been burned.
Call The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley at 661-949-8484 for answers about your timing belt, or drop by our Lancaster, California, service center on 226 West Avenue I.
It's critical that the values be timed to open and close at precisely the right time in the combustion cycle, or the engine will run poorly or not at all.
The timing belt is responsible for rotating the shafts that control the valves. It's vital and precision work. Timing belts are made of very tough, flexible material. They can last a long time. But they eventually wear out and can break. The consequences can be disastrous.
In some engines, the valves actually protrude far enough into the cylinders that they could come in contact with the piston. If the timing belt breaks, the pistons will smash into the valves. Valves get bent or broken. If the engine is spinning fast enough, the broken parts will shred the cylinder head as well. Repairing this damage can cost several thousand dollars.
It's a sad day when this happens; especially since it usually can be avoided. Manufacturers have issued recommendations for when you should replace your timing belt. For some engines, it's at 60,000 miles/97,000 km. For others it's at 90,000 miles/145,000 km or more. If you're approaching 60,000 miles/97,000 km or have passed it, make sure you check your owner's manual or with your Lancaster auto service advisor at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley for when the timing belt should be replaced. Don't let this one slip by.
Now some timing belts are visible and can be inspected. Others are hidden under a protective cover and are hard to get to. Some timing belts also drive the water pump. If you have a leaky water pump, the coolant will contaminate the timing belt and could make it fail sooner. So if you have this kind of engine, get it in to The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley for an inspection right away if you have a coolant leak.
Most people in the Lancaster area with this engine design end up with a new timing belt when they replace the water pump. And when you're having your timing belt replaced on schedule, check with your The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley auto service advisor to see if it makes sense to install a new water pump, even if it isn't currently having problems, since most of the labor is already being done any way for the timing belt replacement.
As a heads up; larger engines will often have metal timing chains rather than belts. The chains don't need to be replaced like belts.
We've already told you how very expensive it can be to get your car running again after a timing belt fails. You also need to know that replacing the timing belt is very labor intensive and is one of the most costly maintenance services you will have. So if you will be at the point where your timing belt should be replaced in the next year or so, ask for an estimate from The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley in Lancaster, California, so you can begin to prepare for the expense.
We at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley, your Lancaster service center, can be a valuable partner. Please take advantage of our knowledge and experience.