There are two types of cars on the road today – most of the car engines have belts to make the engine and integral parts like the alternator, power steering, air conditioning etc work. More rarely some cars also have a chain that connects the crankshaft to the camshaft and essentially enables the engine to work.
Engines that use belts have two belts – one that is called a timing belt. That connects the crankshaft to the camshaft and basically makes the engine turn around and work the way it should be. The second belt is called a serpentine belt and that is used to make the alternator, power steering and air conditioning pump work.
What happens as the belt gets older?
Belts are made of rubber and while they can last for tens of thousands of kilometers, they will at some point need changing. Belts can wear, crack or begin slipping. A very notable way that says your belt needs changing is a squealing sound under the hood when starting the car.
Belts can also snap, if they are not changed in time. If a serpentine belt snaps, you will loose some of your car’s accessories like power steering. If a timing belt snaps, that is a whole bigger problem – that will on a good day leave your car inoperable. But as many engines are what’s called an interference engines – the snapping of a timing belt can actually leave your engine seriously damaged.
When should you change your engine belts?
The service intervals are specific per car models, but general rule is that belts need changing between 60 000 – 120 000 kilometers. However it is also adisable to change the belts every 5 years. Whenever you notice any of the following things, book an appointment to your Carstop service as soon as possible:
- Squealing noise from the front of the vehicle is a sure way to know one or both of your belts are in need of change
- Power steering and AC not working. If one of them breaks, it might not be due to the belt but another fault in the system at hand. But if both are not working, the serpentine belt should be checked.
- Engine is overheating – the serpentine belt powers the coolant pump. If the pump is not working, the engine will start to overheat.
- Cracks and wear on the belt. Belts are usually located in the front of the engine. If the engine is not covered and the belts are visible, check it regularly for cracks or wear.
Car engines that have chains
There are some cars that have chains instead of the timing belts. Typically the timing chain lasts longer and needs to be replaced every 100 000 – 150 000 kilometers, however timing chains are usually also costlier to change.
When there are early issues with the timing chain, your check engine light might come on. Or whenever you notice your car misfiring (you’ll notice excessive vibrations) or rattling sound, you’ll want to book a check as soon as possible. When a timing chain breaks, it will cause serious engine problems all the way to you having to order an engine rebuild.
Carstop services have the specific knowledge and instruments to perform a belt or chain change. We will order the spare part that is specifically suitable to your car and we will carefully change the belt(s) or the chain on your car. Part of the service includes synchronizing the camshaft and the crankshaft, which will also require specific instruments to ensure that the car engine works properly after the service.
The longevity of your car will depend on how fast any emerging issues are solved. Whenever you notice something different or strange with your car, bring it to your closest Carstop service where our professionals will diagnose and fix the issue.