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Basically, the function of a timing belt is to synchronize the movements of the camshafts and the crankshaft to keep your engine running.
The belt is constantly rotating, and as such, it is subjected to wear and tear. The maximum rated lifespan of timing belts is 100,000 depending on the type of rubber used. But why am I still having timing belt problems after replacement?
If you replaced your engine’s timing belt and you’re still experiencing timing-belt-related issues, it is either the belt is not properly installed (misaligned) or it is under tensioned (you need a new timing belt tensioner).
Causes of Timing Belt Problems After Replacement
Signs of a failing or broken timing belt include whirling noise coming from the engine, misfiring, engine not turning over, and quite many others.
If you’re still facing any of these symptoms even after changing your worn-out/broken timing belt, here are the possible causes of the situation.
1. The Belt Isn’t Installed Correctly (Misalignment)
The timing belt has to be installed in a specific manner; if it is not fitted correctly, you’d keep experiencing the signs of a bad timing belt. This is the commonest reason why you may face similar scenarios that made you go for timing belt replacement.
Here’s a tip. When installing a new timing belt, the new belt must match the old one in design, size/length, and fitting. Also, while installing the new belt, the mechanic must ensure that the pulleys (camshafts and crankshaft) are properly aligned with the new belt.
However, if this is not the case (in other words, the belt was properly installed), then the following are other possible causes of the awful experience you’re facing after timing belt replacement.
2. Faulty Belt Tensioner
The belts used in automobiles are guided and “tensioned” by a belt tensioner. This tensioner helps to retain a certain level of tension/pressure on the belt to keep it rotating at the expected speed/momentum. So, if the tensioner is bad, the belt won’t function as designed, even if it’s a brand new belt.
A bad belt tensioner can cause uneven wear and may even cause the belt to break (even though it’s a new belt). Most modern cars come with automatic belt tensioners, which makes belt tensioning easier for mechanics.
3. Ignition Coil or Spark Plug Problems
Another culprit here could be the ignition coil. If the coils are not fitted correctly after the fix, the new belt won’t function as expected, and that could be the reason for the issues you’re facing.
An experienced/professional mechanic would definitely examine the ignition coils and spark plugs when replacing a bad timing belt.
4. Bad Sensors
The bad sensors in your car could be the culprit here. In modern cars, virtually all car parts are interconnected.
Thus, when one component fails, it indirectly affects the performance of another one and could cause serious problems/damages if not fixed appropriately, earlier.
5. Damaged or Weak Pulleys
If the timing belt was showing signs of failure and you ignored them for a long time, it could be that a connected pulley was affected by the old (bad) timing belt.
Hence, even though you now have a new timing belt, you need to fix the pulley damaged by the old belt before your car can drive normally again.
6. Oil Leaks
Timing belts are not friendly with oils. If oil is leaking in the engine bay and gets to the timing belt, it can cause the belt to slip off and break.
In this case, you need to find what’s causing the oil leak and have it fixed as soon as possible.
What To Do When You’re Facing Timing Belt Problems After Replacement
Simply drive back to the mechanic’s workshop and have the technician recheck the belt installation.
If the installation wasn’t done properly, then it should be corrected, and if the issue is due to a connected pulley/component that’s already failing, it’s advisable that you replace the pulley/component right away.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why Does My Timing Belt Keep Breaking?
It could be that the installation wasn’t done properly. When a timing belt is not installed correctly, it would excessively wear off, then it’d snap and break. Also, some timing belts have a rated lifespan of 50,000 miles; so, if you’re on 50,000 miles when the belt broke, it’s likely assumable that it reached its lifespan.
Can Oil Damage Timing Belt?
Yes, oils and belts are not compatible. If oil is leaking in the engine bay and gets to the timing belt, the belt would soak the oil, and when it has soaked enough, it’d start failing. In most cases, an oil-soaked timing belt would slip from its position and cause damage.
If you’re facing timing belt problems after replacement, the points discussed above are most likely to be the causes. Once you have them checked/resolved, the issue may never occur again.