So your mechanic has rung you and told you your car is due for a timing belt, you blindly approve the work and then he tells you the price and you are nearly blown off the seat. How can a belt cost so much?
Let us explain to you.
There are two components to this, first what is the timing belt?
The timing belt is a toothed belt that links the crank shaft and the cam shaft together. It keeps the engine running in perfect harmony (mechanically that means in time).
Basically your engine running is like a well rehearsed ballet, everything spinning in many pirouettes in beautiful sequence and perfect synchronisation.
There is a video at the end of this that helps explain that.
Then comes our second component. Why does the belt need replacing?
This belt is made of rubber and perishes. It perishes over time, and it perishes after a certain number of kilometres. This means that even if a car is parked for a few years or only has very low kilometres on it, it will still need a timing belt replacement every 5 years or 100,000Kms.
If this belt brakes it does catastrophic damage to the engine. Its now a fat clumsy kid interfering with our beautiful ballet.
Replacing the belt is a bit of an exercise as there is often quiet a bit of labour involved in getting to the belt and once in there, more than just the belt gets replaced. There are some seals in there, a few bearings and any decent mechanic will change the water pump whilst he is in there too.
Be mindful of dealers who will sell you a “timing belt replacement” and only replace the belt. In six months time you may be paying all that labour again for a water pump replacement or for oil leaks from cam seals. These are all items that could be done whilst the timing belt is getting replaced.
So whats the cost of this? it depends on the car. Most Japanese cars, this job should cost between $800-$1300. If you are unfortunate enough to own a Peugeot or a Citroen or any other foolishly made European vehicle, you can comfortably double this price and then some.
The moral of the story? Don’t skimp on this repair. If it fails, in most cases the motor will need major overhauling. Saving $1k now could cost you many thousands later down the track.
Above is a short video made by a mob of knowledgeable Americans. Unfortunately they can’t seem to make educational videos without making it “American” in some way. World dominance in all areas, including youtube.