Top 4 Symptoms of a Bad Timing Belt (Cost of Replacement)

How Do I Know When My Timing Belt Needs Changing

There are affiliate links on this article. If you make a purchase through any of the links, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

What are the symptoms of a bad timing belt? In most cases, you’d hear an unusual (ticking) noise coming from your engine bay. The check engine light may illuminate, and you may notice oil leaks from beneath the engine bay.

The timing belt is an important part of the engine, and it plays a vital role. Actually, the function of the timing belt is to ensure that the camshaft(s) and crankshaft move at the same time. It simply synchronizes the rotation of the camshafts and the crankshaft.

A bad timing belt would cause your car engine to underperform, and in worse scenarios, it can cause the engine not to start at all.

In this article, we will look at the various signs of a bad timing belt, what causes a timing belt to break, how to know when to change your timing belt, and cost of timing belt replacement.

How Do I Know When My Timing Belt Needs Changing?

A failing timing belt will show you different symptoms and signs. It is important that you know these symptoms; hence, when they start showing up, you can act quickly and salvage your engine.

Symptoms of a Bad Timing Belt

Symptoms of a Bad Timing Belt

When you start experiencing any of these symptoms, it is advisable to check on your timing belt immediately before the issue escalates.

1. Oil Leaks From Beneath The Engine Bay

Since a bad timing belt causes the camshafts not to move in unison with the crankshaft, it can affect the timing belt cover, which can, in turn, cause oil to leak from the cover. So to say, if a timing belt cover is bad, it is generally acceptable to say that the timing belt is bad.

Factors that could cause the timing belt cover to damage include overheating, wear, and hard impact. Getting a new timing belt cover isn’t too expensive, and the fix doesn’t take much time to be done.

2. Unusual Ticking Noise From The Engine

The timing belt is constantly rotating, and it connects to quite many pulleys. Thus, when the belt starts failing, you’d hear ticking noise coming from the engine bay. This unusual ticking noise is usually due to excessive wear on the belt.

It is a clear warning sign to draw your attention to check the engine. Normally, you’d hear this noise immediately start the car, and it may continue throughout the drive. The louder the noise, the more urgently you need to fix the failing timing belt.

3. Unsteady Check Engine Light

A bad timing belt is likely to turn on the check engine light; however, it’d mostly make the light blink (instead of staying steady).

So, when your check engine icon is blinking consistently, it’s advisable to take a look at your engine’s timing belt; the cover may have broken, or the belt itself is worn out.

4. Engine Does Not Turn Over or Start

If the timing belt is broken, it could cause the engine not to turn over, and in worst scenarios, the engine won’t start at all. Normally, if the timing belt is in good condition, it is triggered when you start the car (starter) to move the crankshaft, which in turn makes the engine ignite and start.

So, a bad timing belt would halt the process, and therefore your engine would be unable to start. At this point, the only thing you can do is to get a mechanic to work on the car – possibly replace the bad timing belt with a new one.

What Happens If Timing Belt Breaks While Driving?

It could cause fatal engine damage, which may send you to the market for a whole new engine. If the timing belt suddenly breaks while driving, the camshafts and crankshaft would stop working abruptly, and your case would be forced to stop.

The instant abrupt stop may cause damage to other crucial engine components; thus, leaving you with a more expensive repair to deal with. This is why you need to detect the signs of a failing timing belt earlier and have it fixed as early as possible.

Cost Of Timing Belt Replacement

The best way to fix a timing belt is to have it replaced with a new one. Actually, timing belt replacement cost is a little on the high side.

On average, it will cost you around $500 to replace the timing belt on a car, truck, or SUV.

However, the belt itself is not very expensive; it’s typically priced below $100; the majority of the amount you’re paying is in the labor. The timing belt connects different pulleys; all of them need to be properly realigned with the new belt.

How To Tell If Broken Timing Belt Damaged The Engine

A broken timing belt may damage core engine components such as the pistons, valves, and cylinder head.

If after replacing the timing belt, your engine refuses to start and work as usual, then you may need to troubleshoot the engine for potentially damaged components.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Causes a Timing Belt To Break?

Overheating excessive wear due to aging, and hard impact are some of the commonest things that cause the timing belt to break.  So to say, the two major causes of timing belt damage are excessive heat and stress (wear).

If Timing Belt Breaks Will Car Start?

No! The car won’t start because the timing belt works in hand with the starter to “crank” and ignite the engine, which then causes the car to start. You must have to fix the belt before your engine can start again.

Does Timing Belt Give Warning?

Yes, it shows you different signs and symptoms before it finally breaks or fails. A failing timing belt may give the following warning signs: ticking noise from the engine bay, oil leaks from the engine bay, misfiring, engine not starting, and engine not turning over.

How To Tell If Valves Are Bent After Timing Belt Broke?

To check for bent valves, remove the cylinder heads, and there you can clearly see if the valves are still intact or they are bent. Due to hard impact, a broken timing belt can cause the valves the bend.

Will a Broken Timing Belt Destroy My Engine?

Yes, a bad timing belt can wreck an engine completely. The belt connects many pulleys, which then helps to keep the engine running. A broken timing belt would force these pulleys from rotating, and also stop the synchronization of the camshafts and crankshaft, which could cause fatal engine damage.

What More?

Clearly, this article has explained the various symptoms of a bad timing belt and how it can affect the engine.

It is advisable to act quickly when you start seeing signs that your engine’s timing belt is about to fail. Without the timing belt, an engine would definitely not function as expected.

Scroll to Top