Signs It’s Time to Replace Your Car’s Cam Belt
Replacing the cam belt is an essential part of the maintenance schedule for any car. If your cam belt breaks, then this could cause a lot of damage to the rest of the car, including causing the pistons and valves in the engine to collide with one another, which can lead to a total car breakdown and a huge repair bill. While replacing the cam belt is not one of the cheapest maintenance items on the list, it’s important to do so, especially if you have noticed some of the main warning signs that your cam belt might need replacing. It’s important to remember that replacing your cam belt, despite being costly, is always cheaper than dealing with a written-off engine that has completely broken down.
Cam Belt Change Cost in Australia – What is the Cam Belt?
The cam belt, often called a timing belt, is designed to help rotate the cam and crankshaft in the engine. It ensures that these two rotating systems are synchronised with one another, keeping the pistons firing at regular intervals when required. The cam belt is found under a timing cover that is usually located at the front or side of the engine. It is usually made from a durable nylon and rubber material with grooves to hold it in place. Some cars have timing chains instead of a belt. Both are durable but will eventually degrade due to the friction, before finally breaking if not replaced. Timing chains are usually able to last for a longer amount of time compared to a rubber cam belt but will also eventually need to be replaced.
Cam Belt Replacement Cost – How Often Should You Change the Cam Belt?
Most car manufacturers will recommend that you change your cam belt once every four to five years or every 60,000 miles, depending on which comes first. The best place to start is by checking your owner’s manual to find out the specific recommendations and details for your car. By sticking to this recommended schedule and getting your car serviced regularly to check the cam belt and the other engine components, you should be able to spot issues with the cam belt earlier rather than later. Along with this, it’s a good idea to be aware of the various signs that your cam belt is failing and may need to be replaced soon.
Cambelt Change Cost – Signs to Look Out For
These signs, especially if you notice a few happening at the same time, can be an indicator that you should either inspect your cam belt or book your car in to be checked by a mechanic who can determine and repair the issue.
Grinding, chirping, squealing, ticking, or hissing noises coming from the engine can be a major indicator that the cam belt is beginning to slip from its position. This is especially true if you have noticed a noise coming from the engine that tends to get worse when you are driving in wet weather. If your timing belt has been changed recently, then bear in mind that new belts might give off a squealing noise when the tension needs to be adjusted.
If the cam belt is worn out, this can cause problems with the engine’s firing sequence. Wear and tear of the belt can cause slips that lead to cylinders opening and closing too late or too early. If you notice this problem, it’s best to get the cam belt checked and replaced as soon as possible as it can lead to the engine blowing apart if left unchecked.
When the cam belt is loose, you might notice some unusual revs when you are driving your car. Strange behaviour from the engine as you are driving along the road such as revs between 2000 and 4000 rpm that might lead to other signs and issues can be a major symptom of a broken or loose cam belt that needs repairing or replacing.
Trouble Getting the Car Started
If your car is not starting at all but you can hear engagement of the starter motor when you turn the key, then this could be a main sign that the cam belt has broken. Open the hood and check to see if the crankshaft turns while starting the car, but the camshaft remains stationary. This will confirm that your timing belt has broken and needs to be replaced.
Oil Pressure Decline
When the cam belt’s timing is not right, it can skip, which in turn causes fragments of the camshaft to break off. Sometimes, these can fall into the oil pan, which leads to a drastic drop in pressure. If this happens, it can cause serious issues with the engine and might even warrant a complete engine rebuild.
Check the areas where you park for any patches of oil. When the cam belt is damaged, this can cause oil to leak from the timing belt cover, causing pools of oil on the floor and oil leaking around area in the engine when you open the hood.
Excessive Heat and Vibrations
As any issues with the cam belt will have an impact on the internal tensioner components, this will impact the engine performance overall. As a result, you may notice excessive heat coming from the engine when driving or unusual vibrations when you are driving.
Rough Engine Idling
When you are idling the engine, any spluttering and stuttering could be due to the loss of grip teeth from the cam belt, which causes it to slip away from the wheel. Detached cam belt teeth could even lead to severe engine jolts if they fall into the gears, so if you have noticed any of these signs it’s best to get the cam belt checked as soon as possible.
Increase in Exhaust Fumes
If you have a petrol car, your exhaust fumes should be clear and invisible, and fairly minimal. However, when the cam belt is failing the engine needs to work much harder to achieve the same level of acceleration when you drive. This can result in much greater volumes of exhaust gases coming from the exhaust than usual.
Cambelt Replacement Cost – Visual Signs to Look Out For
Along with looking out for the above signs that you might notice when driving, idling, or starting your car, you can also open the hood of the car and perform a visual check of the cam belt to see what kind of condition it is in and determine whether or not a replacement is going to be needed.
Cracking or fraying along the belt is a sign that indicates you will need to get it replaced immediately. When the engine is cold, press the end of your nail into the rubber to check the cam belt. If it does not leave a mark, then the rubber is not as flexible as it should be, and this is a sure sign that it is starting to wear out.
This occurs when the underside of the cam belt has a shiny look to it. It indicates that the rubber has become hardened and is lacking the flexibility it needs to perform well.
Broken Valves and Pistons
When the cam belt is completely broken, the crankshaft and camshaft will no longer be synchronised. This will result in the pistons and valves coming into contact with one another as they open, which causes damage. If this is the case, then you should avoid driving your car and have it towed to a mechanic for repairs to be carried out to prevent any further problems.
Look out for any lost teeth on the belt. These may also drop out to underneath the engine on the ground, so it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for them if you are checking for oil leaks.
When the cam belt is broken, the engine failing is the worst-case scenario. Your car may stop running completely or not start if the cam belt has broken and enough damage has been caused to the engine to prevent it from working correctly. If this happens, call a tow company to take your car to a mechanic to have the engine fully inspected. It is likely that a cam belt replacement will be required along with other repairs.
Timing Belt Replacement Cost in Australia
The cost of replacing a timing belt can vary depending on your car’s make and model, type of cam belt required, and whether your car has a rubber timing belt or a timing chain. The average timing belt replacement cost is around $500, although for some cars it might set you back more than $1000. While replacing the timing belt is not the cheapest maintenance job, it is much better to pay to get it done before the damage causes more serious and costly issues with your engine.
The timing belt or cam belt is an essential part of your car’s engine that should be regularly checked and replaced every few years.