What does a timing belt do, anyway? | Raleigh, NC | King’s Auto Service

What does the timing belt do?

Your Timing Belt: The piece that brings it all together

In any engine, the timing belt is the key to perfect harmony, and timing belt repair is the key to keeping in sync.

If you’re researching auto repair, chances are you want to have more information before you bring your vehicle into a shop. The more you understand about your own vehicle, the better you’ll be able to make sure you’re getting the services you need. Unfortunately, if you’re researching timing belt repair, chances are there is more urgency to figure out the problem than something less problematic.

The timing belt isn’t the most commonly known engine part, so its function can be a little bit obscure. In fact, the key is in the name! Your timing belt is the key to making sure the moving parts of your engine move in time with one another. Here’s how:

In a combustion engine, small explosions are set off without your engine to power that is transferred to your wheels. Air control for those small explosions is very precise, and if it’s off even slightly, your engine will fail to run at all. Your timing belt is a rubber belt with hard teeth at intervals that interlock with the crankshaft and the two camshafts. Because the timing belt contacts all three, they have to work in unison.

Straight out of the factory, the timing belt, crankshaft, and camshafts should be moving together smoothly and uniformly. However, as your vehicle ages, as you put on the miles, the timing belt will begin to wear. The rubber teeth may dry and crack meaning it will lose their grip or the belt itself may stretch and loosen. This will cause one of two mistakes in the engine. If the intake valve opens too early, there may be too much air/fuel mixture in the chamber to ignite properly. If the exhaust valve opens too early, it will prevent the combustion process and your engine will have no power.

Don’t worry! Timing belt failure isn’t something that happens overnight. The wear and tear happen over the life of your vehicle. If you’re keeping up with preventative maintenance appointments, your technician will be able to tell you when it may be time to consider replacing your belt. Don’t wait until your engine loses power altogether!

Written by King's Auto Service