Timing Belt Replacement

Oh the angst and misery caused by a snapped timing belt. That infernal rubber demon that lives by the law of sod, only ever breaking when it can cause maximum amount of internal engine damage and the utmost distress to your bank balance. Why oh why….??

Well lets start with what a timing belt [often referred to as a cam-belt] actually does, which may provide some understanding of why ensuring it’s upkeep is so important, regardless of the make or model you drive.

Simply put, your engine has a ‘top’ [cam] section and ‘bottom’ [crank] section and the job of the timing belt is to ensure those two bits run in perfect harmony with each other. Therefore it is attached to each part via toothed cogs so that [unlike a fan belt for example] it can never slip or move around and cause the two engine parts to become unsynchronised.

Now the problem is that the belt is made of rubber in a majority of cars [some do have a chain, which generally lasts much longer, but is also inherently more noisy and hence disliked] and like anything made from rubber, will suffer age related wear – perishing, hardening, splitting, cracking, etc. Not normally a problem if you follow your manufacturers guidelines for having them replaced [and of course assuming it doesn’t snap as a consequencial damage from something else], but if you don’t…..

….it is not a pretty argument when the pistons have risen in anger and given the valves a good slapping. The heads of the pistons will look like they did several rounds with Mike Tyson, whilst the valves will be very bent and sorry for themselves. That’s a seriously expensive trip to A & E to sort out.

Most Renault’s come with timing belt replacement schedule at 72000 miles, or 5 YEARS, whichever is soonest. ‘I only do low miles’ is no defence unfortunately. Think about those wellingtons you leave in the garden shed, only using twice a year, they have gone all nasty too – difference is, the worst one those failing can do is give you a wet foot. So, Check your service book, see what the replacement schedule is for your car.

If you haven’t got a service book, call us, or your own garage for other makes, and find out what it is. Timing belts are not something that can be done at home, but they are a necessary job that very much fall into the ‘prevention being infinitely less painful than cure’ category, and usually more convenient too, because of course that little blighter will only snap the day before you want to drive your car round Europe.

This doesn’t apply to all cars, but certainly for Renault’s, it also means we can check the condition of your water pump whilst the belt is off – the pump is driven by same belt and therefore it is worth replacing if there are any signs of wear or tear because no one wants to pay for the same job again 2 years down the line if the waterpump then fails.

So, go on, have a look, is your belt due replacement?