Like many essential parts of your vehicle, you might not think much about your cambelt – until it lets you down. Your cambelt plays an important part and if it breaks before you can replace it, it can cause serious damage to your vehicle. In this series, we look at the basics: what your cambelt does, how often to change it, and the potential consequences of failing to get your cambelt replaced.
So, what does a cambelt do?
Otherwise known as the timing belt, the cambelt is a thick rubber band which is usually ribbed or has “teeth”. Its job is to keep your engine running smoothly, ensuring that the pistons and crankcase work in harmony with the valves and cylinder head.
What happens if the cambelt breaks?
When it comes to combustion engines, timing is key. Your cambelt makes sure that the different elements of your engine work in time together. By controlling how the valves close and open in harmony with the cylinders, your cambelt ensures that the right combustion takes place to fuel your engine. If your cambelt breaks, the different parts of your engine won’t work in relation to each other – the moving parts could collide, resulting in potentially very expensive damage.
What does a replacement cambelt cost?
Accessing the cambelt can be a challenge, so the cost of replacing it will depend on your vehicle. Often the greatest cost is in the labour. As with any vehicle maintenance issues, it is cheaper to pre-empt the problem and replace the cambelt before it breaks; replacing a broken cambelt and repairing the damaged caused by the broken cambelt can sometimes cost up to four figures.
When should I replace my cambelt?
When you should replace your cambelt will depend on your vehicle, how long you have had it and how many miles you have done. Different manufacturers make different recommendations, but broadly, your cambelt should be replaced every 4-6 years and 40-60,000 miles. For newer vehicles, the cambelt tends to last more miles – around 100,000. If you are buying a vehicle with over 40,000 miles on the clock, it is worth checking to see when the cambelt was last replaced before you agree to buy. Assuming that you get your vehicle serviced regularly, your garage will be able to check your timing belt schedule and notify you when you need to start thinking about replacement. If you have had your vehicle for more than five years or done a lot of miles or you are unsure, check with your mechanic.
It is understandable that you may be reluctant to get your cambelt checked because you don’t want to be hit with a hefty bill – particularly if you drive an older vehicle. However, failing to replace your cambelt before it gives will result in potentially dangerous and definitely expensive damage. If in doubt, check it out! If you are unsure who to ask, check out Trust A Garage’s directory of trusted local garages to find a local mechanic that you can trust. Want more information? Follow us on Facebook or Twitter.