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Timing Belts, Wet belts and Timing Chains

A timing belt, or cambelt, keeps essential components of your car engine (the camshaft and crankshaft) working in-sync. The reason the timing belt is so crucial is because any slight disruption to the synchronicity of these components can be disastrous for your car engine. Your engine’s camshaft lets fuel and air in and out of your engine, while the crankshaft moves the pistons up and down simultaneously. It’s vital that they work together in perfect harmony. The cambelt ensures the two are always aligned.

When should I change my timing belt?

It’s crucial that you have your cambelt replaced at the manufacturer recommended interval. Timing belts are always replaced dependent upon the interval, whether that be mileage, age or both, as determined by the vehicle manufacturer. These timings are also subject to change if a manufacturer updates the intervals based on technical recalls. Sometimes, your cambelt may need replacing earlier than expected. If you have just bought the vehicle and you have no service record to prove the cambelt has been changed then we would recommend getting it checked and changed for peace of mind.

Here are a few signs to look out for if you think there could be a problem with your timing belt. 

Engine noise, listen out for any odd noises coming from the engine. If a cambelt is about to fall, there will be a rubbing sound coming from the engine area. If you hear this sound, turn off the engine and get it looked at as soon as possible. 

Also, the car may not start, there are a few reasons why your car may not start but one of them could be an issue with the cambelt. Your cambelt naturally experiences wear and tear over time. Always take it to a professional garage if you think there may be a problem. For peace of mind that your cambelt is in order, always have your annual car service so that any problems can be identified and repaired.

Wet belts

Timing belts in oil, also known as wet belts, have been fitted to some engines to help keep noise levels down and reduce friction. The belt runs inside the engine constantly bathed in engine oil. A wet timing belt is a critical engine component that synchronizes the rotation of the crankshaft and camshaft. Unlike traditional timing belts, a wet timing belt is lubricated by the engine oil rather than running dry. The important thing for wet belts is using the right type of oil and not doing too many miles between oil and filter changes. There is no obvious indicator in the oil to detect issues with the wet belt. However, if the wet belt is wearing, the engine may be difficult to start or is likely to misfire, idle roughly, and perform erratically at high rpm. Wet timing belts tend not to snap, but their teeth become detached. Even if a severely weakened belt is still serving its purpose, these fibrous remnants can enter the oil pump strainer, causing a loss of oil pressure.

Timing chains

The timing chain is located in the car's engine and it is designed to synchronize the various parts of the engine so that they work together. Over time a chain can stretch to beyond its tensioner’s adjustment capability at which point it will rattle. From this point the engine's timing may become erratic and cause cam and crank sensor fault codes; if the vehicle continues to be driven, the chain can snap causing similar damage to that of a snapped timing belt. A common reason for this failure appears to be that the bolts securing the tensioner work their way loose. This slackens the chain which either rattles for a while before snapping, or sometimes fails very quickly with little or no notice. Lubrication, oil feed and low oil pressure due to lack of servicing and the wrong oil, can also cause chain and tensioner issues. The chain starts to rattle on cold start-ups which can lessen as the engine warms up. If your car is a diesel, the noise often goes unnoticed by the driver who thinks it is normal and carries on driving. The noise will only worsen until one of two things happen.

When should I change my timing chain?

Most engines fitted with timing chains don’t have a service interval change set by the manufacturer. If unsure it is best to check your handbook or check with your main dealer or we can also check for you just drop us a message or call. Things to look out for are nosey rattles from your engine especially on cold start up, if you think your engine sounds noisier than it should you should get it checked out as soon as possible. If left for any length of time it could do damage to the engine and your car not start.

Timing tools

When changing any timing belts, chains or wet belts it is important to use the correct tooling, with nearly all engines having variable valve timing fitted it is vital to timing the engine up correctly otherwise you may have engine warning lights flagging up faults, running faults or even worst damage to the engine. Over the years we have invested in many timing tools. When each manufacture brings out a new engine there is always new timing tool, if we don’t have the tool for your timing belt or chain then we will order one so we can set the timing up correctly.

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Established in 2013 Brake Fit and B.F PERFORMANCE has become one of Preston's leading car garages in vehicle maintenance, repairs, custom exhaust and upgrades. If you require a free quotation for any repairs or modifications or you just need some advice. Please feel free to contact us, head over to our contact page and check out where we are and find our contact details.

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Brake-Fit
2B Linton Street
Preston
Lancashire
PR23BJ
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Company number - 13407830
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