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As a driver, you probably don’t know what half the parts in your vehicle do. Nor do you care as long as they work. That’s why when it’s time to replace the timing belt, you aren’t sure where to take your car.
Especially because it isn’t regular servicing or preventive maintenance that vehicles need regularly
Now come the questions. Who should you visit for car repair services? Can you replace the timing belt with a generic belt, and how much does it cost? Does a warranty cover the replacement?
These are just a few questions you’re asking yourself when the time comes to replace this part. Rather than idly sit back and wait for the timing belt to snap, it’s important to be proactive instead. Don’t put yourself, family, or other drivers in danger because you didn’t service your vehicle when it was necessary.
Take the time to read your owner’s manual to understand servicing needs. Or, you can rely on these tips to help you choose the right mechanic for services.
If you have a car then you need to have a safety kit in it.
This Emergency Preparedness Kit is a vital thing to carry with you in all of your vehicles as it will help not only in the case of a weather emergency but also in case of a breakdown.
What Is a Timing Belt
The timing belt controls the camshafts in a vehicle. As the name implies, it times the camshaft controls in the vehicle’s engine. It opens and closes the engine valves at the appropriate time to ensure smooth operation on the road.
Timing belts feature a rubber compound finish. They don’t require lube and are quiet while operating in the car’s engine.
When the timing belt fails, the engine valves stop functioning as they should. The valves remain open when they should close, and vice-versa. This defect may result in significant damage to the vehicle’s engine.
Although it is somewhat costly to replace the timing belt, it is much cheaper than engine services. So, it’s essential for drivers to know when to replace the timing belt, and spot defects before they occur.
How Often Do Drivers Have to Replace the Timing Belt
One reason many drivers don’t even think about replacing the timing belt is that it isn’t routine maintenance. It’s best to abide by the manufacturer’s suggestions as it relates to the frequency of replacing the belt.
This information is most accurate and protects drivers in the event the timing belt fails before this time. In general, most timing belts can last 60,000 to 100,000 miles. The more meticulous owners are about maintaining their vehicle, the longer it is going to continue running.
So, replacing the timing belt at suggested intervals is in your best interest as a driver.
Every mechanic, however, will suggest different parameters. And, the dealership where owners buy the vehicle from might have different suggestions, too. The cost of replacing the belt will vary for each car.
Make, and model, dealership vs. standalone mechanics, and original vs. generic parts are some factors that’ll result in pricing disparities.
Where Should Drivers Take Their Car to Replace the Timing Belt
Another critical question to ask when it’s time to replace the timing belt is where to take the vehicle. For some drivers, they strictly go to the dealership. Others go to significant chain mechanics, and others visit smaller repair shops.
So, what’s the best option?
For luxurious cars or those that need custom parts, it might be best to visit the dealership directly. In addition to having the parts in stock, they have mechanics with training to work on these vehicles. They have the proper equipment to replace the timing belt, and perform additional services, if necessary.
Cost of replacement is usually higher than it would be at a standalone mechanic. However, drivers also receive full assurances and warranties for the parts the dealership replaces.
Private mechanic or repair shop
A private mechanic or repair shop is suitable for an “everyday” commuter car. Vehicles that don’t need custom parts or use generic parts can visit a local repair shop. For the most part, mechanics have the requisite training to replace the timing belt.
Most shops will even warranty the belt for 50,000 miles (or the timing belt’s lifespan). As long as drivers visit a reputable repair shop that guarantees its work, they’re safe visiting it for repairs.
Generic vs. OEM Parts
When the time comes to replace the timing belt, drivers need to choose between OEM and generic (aftermarket) parts. In some instances, vehicles will only accept OEM parts (original equipment manufacturer).
For luxury cars and manufacturers, this is often the case. OEM parts are those similar to what the manufacturer produces and installs in vehicles during production.
The alternative is generic or aftermarket parts. These parts are much cheaper than the OEM parts, so the overall price to replace the timing belt is lower. The drawbacks are that they aren’t going to last as long, and drivers won’t receive the best warranties.
Lower prices sometimes mean cheaper material quality as well. That means the belt might require replacement more frequently.
Can Any Mechanic Replace the Timing Belt: The Best Shop to Visit
Most mechanics and repair shops advertise that they offer timing belt replacement services. So, technically, the answer is yes. However, some shops are better than others. Just because drivers can visit any repair shop, and pay half the price for services, doesn’t mean they should.
These are some ways to find the best shops or mechanics to replace the timing belt.
Word of mouth referrals
Referrals are a great indication of the quality of work customers can expect from a local repair shop. Like any purchase, most people read online reviews to find out about product quality. Why not do the same about a service provider?
This information can help drivers avoid visiting the wrong shop when replacing their timing belt. Drivers want to know their car is in good hands when they take it in for repair.
Word of mouth referrals are one of the best ways to guarantee this is the case.
Industry experience/amount of time in the industry
When selecting a mechanic, industry experience is an essential factor to consider. A mechanic with 25 years of experience is a better choice than one with 25 months of experience.
Seek out industry experts and shops that employ the best mechanics in their respective area of specialization. Mechanics with more knowledge are less likely to make mistakes when completing repair services.
Specialized vs. general repair shop
If possible, visiting a shop that specializes in timing belt replacement and repairs is also advisable. These mechanics have more industry-specific experience, resulting in higher quality services. The shops also have the right equipment to complete repair services.
Most service shops have a specialist for repair services. So, at a minimum, choose a repair shop that has an expert working with timing belts.
Experience working on the specific make and model of the vehicle
Any mechanic drivers choose to visit to replace the timing belt, should have the requisite expertise to do the job. Drivers shouldn’t trust their Mercedes-Benz or BMW to a mechanic who works on Honda vehicles. Additionally, some cars have factory parts and require original manufacturer parts when replacing them.
So, vehicle owners must choose a service shop that has the parts in stock to replace the timing belt.
Many higher-end or luxury cars also feature distinct parts for the model and year of a particular vehicle. If this is the case, drivers might choose to visit the dealership. Alternatively, drivers can visit a mechanic that specializes in that luxury manufacturer brand.
That guarantees they’ll have the right equipment and parts to work on the vehicle in their shop.
The price of repair or replacement services is essential. However, it shouldn’t be the only determining factor in deciding where to service the vehicle. So, shop around, and research accordingly, to know the mechanic you decide upon is the best for the job.
Warranties and Guarantees on Parts and Services When You Replace the Timing Belt
When choosing a repair shop to replace the timing belt, drivers must learn about service shop guarantees and warranties. If you visit the dealership, they’re going to guarantee the timing belt. Most dealerships will also include a five-year or 50,000-mile warranty.
Each dealership’s warranty will differ. It’s best to find out about the guarantees a service shop provides before visiting.
For drivers who visit a mechanic, warranties and guarantees will vary significantly from one shop to the next. Additionally, OEM parts might have more extended warranties than that on cheaper aftermarket parts.
So, drivers should consider investing a little more to extend warranties in some cases.
Warranties and guarantees aren’t the same at every service shop or mechanic drivers visit. Every service shop, mechanic, and dealership, have their own rules and standards for timing belts and mechanical services.
However, drivers should expect some warranty on the belt and guarantee period on the services. The best approach is to visit a few local mechanics before servicing the vehicle.
Does the Repair Shop Have Necessary Equipment to Replace the Timing Belt?
Drivers don’t want to visit a repair shop that doesn’t have car lifts in place. Nor do they want to visit a mechanic without the equipment to remove and replace the timing belt. It’s imperative that the mechanic has all the necessary equipment and safety equipment in place to perform repair services.
Not only timing belt replacement, but all general mechanical services and repairs.
Some shops are going to have better equipment than others. And, larger shops will usually have more equipment in place to do the work quickly. Drivers should be mindful of how mechanics handle their vehicle.
They should also demand the best services when doing any mechanical work on their car. If a mechanic doesn’t have the appropriate equipment, it’s impossible for them to do the job properly.
Most drivers wouldn’t trust their car in the hands of a mechanic who isn’t ASE certified or isn’t competent. Drivers should have the same expectations for the service shop and equipment mechanics use to repair their car.
Don’t just settle on any service shop that offers the lowest price. Take the time to find a shop that has all the necessary equipment in place. Also, look for a shop that emphasizes safety and precision, rather than one-hour guarantees, when choosing a mechanic.
Final Thoughts: Timing Belt Replacement
Repair services and maintaining your vehicle are some things you can’t brush off. Most people need a car, daily, for commuting. Driving the kids to school, grocery shopping, and getting to work are just some instances in which you’ll drive every day.
You want to make sure it’s safe for you to drive. If your car isn’t functioning as it should, this can cause safety concerns for you and your family. Most drivers do routine maintenance like changing the oil and fluids regularly.
But, when the time comes to replace the timing belt or other major repairs, they push repairs off. Avoid this at all costs.
You can’t brush off service needs
You can only push repairs and maintenance off so much before it’s too dangerous to drive. If you don’t replace the timing belt in a timely fashion, it can cause significant engine problems.
You’ll find it’s cheaper to pay $500 to $2,000 replacing the timing belt than $5,000 for engine problems. So, don’t let that “check engine” light sit idly for months at a time. Tend to repairs as soon as possible.
Professional Replacement vs. DIY Timing Belt Replacement
When the time comes to replace the timing belt, visit a professional if at all possible. It does cost more to visit a shop than replace the timing belt yourself. But, the assurances, warranties, and guarantees are worth that price.
And, your peace of mind in knowing the car is safe is reason enough to visit a mechanic. Mechanics stand behind the work they perform and warranty the timing belt they install. Additionally, if you have issues with the car after service, you can return to the shop for follow-ups.
If you do the work yourself, you don’t have this peace of mind.
If you’re a mechanic, by all means, replace the timing belt yourself. Or, if you have a high understanding of timing belts and have the equipment, you can do the job yourself. But, if you don’t have the experience, tools, or knowledge, the best option is to consider visiting a professional.
For those who want the best guarantees and warranties, going to a mechanic is your best option.