Is My Timing Belt Too Old?
courtesy of Bob, The Auto Answer Man
I am the owner of a 1998 Toyota Camry, which we bought new. The car has in all ways been well maintained. I have just taken it in for an oil change and was told that a car of this age should have the timing belt replaced. The car only has 16,000 miles on it. Should the timing belt be replaced because of its age? We are planning on keeping it for a long time.
Usually timing belts are replaced based on mileage not age. However, I can see their point of view. You see, everything ages (just sitting on a shelf, a belt can age). The rubber can lose its flexible qualities. However, with only 16,000 miles, I would doubt that your particular car would be in need of a change. You see, it is recommended to have it changed because if it was to break while driving, there is a possibility of serious internal engine damage. Pistons could slap into valves and cause a mess. There is also the risk of having someone change the belt, and the car does not run the same. I have heard this time and time again. If the cam and the crank are not perfectly timed, even if one sprocket is off by only one tooth, it could cause the engine to be out of time and not run as it did before. Most mechanics will shrug this off and state something about the age of the car or higher internal cylinder pressures or the like. In my opinion, it is all bull. The belt itself is relatively inexpensive, but there is a lot of labor involved to get to it. If the mechanic admits he did something wrong, 80% of the bill he will have to eat when he corrects the situation. If you plan on getting it done, please go to a reputable shop or the dealer (not an oil change place). Also, I recommend shopping the job first. Since the car is still operating, you (and the fact that it seems to be a secondary means of transportation considering the low mileage) have a perfect opportunity to find out what different shops in your area charge for that work.
Bob, The Auto Answer Man
Have a car care question? Visit our automotive center and see if we've already answered it or a similar question.
Also in Home
- 6 cheap, effective home security solutions
- 5 simple and affordable luxuries for your home
- 5 frugal ways to expand your living space
- Top 10 DIY mistakes made by home 'handymen'
- Tha basics of financing a home improvement project
- 4 secrets to budgeting for a home purchase
- 5 steps to saving money with a lasagna garden
- Buying a lease/option home
- Affordable fences
- Fixing up furniture the frugal way
- How a "time of use" meter could reduce your electric bill
- 10 ways to set up a home office without blowing your budget
- Find the best mortgage rates in your area
- 3 ways to use a mortgage calculator
- Mortgage calculator: Calculate your payment and more
- Home equity calculator: HELOC vs. line of credit
- Mortgage refinance break-even calculator
- How much money can I borrow for a mortgage?
- Who offers the most home insurance discounts?