What You Can’t See, Can’t Hurt You, Right?

Wrong! Many of today’s vehicles have timing belts. Like other components, timing belts wear out. But they are hidden behind a cover on the front of the engine. This makes detection of imminent failure improbable.

If the timing belt breaks on a free-running engine, the engine stops and you will need a tow to the repair shop. Usually no mechanical damage occurs and the installation of a new belt is all that is needed to get you on your way.

If the timing belt breaks on an interference engine, mechanical engine damage occurs. It most commonly involves open valves being struck by pistons, resulting in the need for expensive repairs. In extreme cases, a replacement engine may be required.

How do I know if I have a timing belt? Most manufacturers have a recommended service interval for this critical component. Your owners’ manual may tell you – but you should ask your technician.

Keep your engine running strong by eliminating potential problems that may leave you stranded.☺

© Copyright 09/30/2015 Pat Goss all rights reserved


January 3, 2016 at 4:15 pm

Pat. When it’s cold, it is OK to leave the car idling with the heat on while looking at Facebook? Does it hurt or damage the engine?

Marcy said:

January 13, 2016 at 1:02 pm

Hi Linda:

That depends how long and how cold? If it’s really cold and only five minutes or less and not done every day it would be okay. But one of the worst things you can do to a car is let it idle especially when cold.

When an engine is idling you are only warming the coolant inn the radiator not the engine oil, transmission oil, power steering fluid, etc. In order to warm them equally to the coolant the parts have to be working. The downside to cold oil is more water in the oil. Oil needs to get hot to be able to dissipate moisture and if it doesn’t get hot enough the water just keeps accumulating. This causes the oil to become thicker and thicker oil moves through a cold engine more slowly leading to more wear.

This would not be a problem if you have a long commute (30 to 45 minutes or more) but if your commute is shorter than that it could over time shorten the life of the engine.

The ideal warm up is 60 to 90 seconds then drive gently until the car is warmed.

Pat Goss

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