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TIMING BELTS - How long did you go before changing?

wilcoxwilcox Posts: 584
edited April 2014 in Saab
The recommendation to change timing belts at 60,000 miles has been around for decades.

Service advisers have been know to quote it in their sleep!

Certainly belts of the 90's last longer than the old-timey belts of the 60's and 70's....?

What's your story?


  • 210delray210delray Posts: 4,722
    My old '80 Volvo 240 has a timing belt with a non-interference engine. Timing belt replacement interval is either 45K miles or 60K miles, depending on whether you go by the owners manual or the separate maintenance booklet.

    I changed the first belt at 57K miles, the next at 122K. That belt broke at 161K miles (only 39K miles and about 3 years after installation). Inconvenient, yes, and also totally unexpected.

    Luckily, it happened in a decent neighborhood in Baltimore where I was able to find a phone easily and have it towed to a Volvo dealer.

    The 3rd belt (to replace the one that snapped) was installed in 1990, and shortly afterward the Volvo was demoted from its primary status as family vehicle and turned into a commuter. I finally elected to have the belt replaced a month or so ago at 232K miles. That is, it went 71K miles and almost 11 years!

    So far, my '97 Camry has gone over 69K on the original belt.

    My '98 Frontier has a timing chain.
  • dpwestlakedpwestlake Posts: 207
    Saav V6 - every 30k - or else!
    Volvo 960 - every 70k
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    It's not 60K for every car out there.

    Honda called for 60K replacements until 1990 when it went to 90K. For 1997 and up models, it's 105,000.

    I think Toyota went to 90K in 1997.

    Last week, an 1991 Civic was towed in with a snapped belt. The car had something like 130,000 miles on it. No engine damage, but the guy got stuck in the middle of one of our floating bridges during rush hour traffic...not a good thing.

    Personally, I don't want to think about myself or my wife getting stranded because I want to push the manufacturers reccomendations.

    But...we are all different, I guess.
  • wilcoxwilcox Posts: 584
    dpwestlake - What does the "or else" mean? It must be a very high performance motor or something. fwiw, the Gates Rubber Co. site recommends Saab V6 being changed at 35,000 miles.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,496
    ...on an '88 LeBaron turbo. Recommended interval was 60,000 miles. We were really pressing our luck, but it was a non-interference engine, so I guess it wouldn't have been THAT big of a deal if it broke.

    The car didn't live long enough to see another timing belt change, though. Just about every component except for the transmission was shot by around 110-115,000 miles...and even the tranny was leaking!

    Just about everything else I've ever owned has had a chain. Even my 2000 Intrepid has a chain, although I didn't know it when I bought it. It still has a recommended interval of 105,000 miles.

  • dpwestlakedpwestlake Posts: 207
    The timing belt is a weak point in the Saab. It should be changed at 30k. Saab covers the first 3 changes for free.

    If the belt breaks is is about $5000 to repair the damage. Bent valves, cracked heads, etc.
  • wilcoxwilcox Posts: 584
    That's strong justification for learning some mechanic skills.

  • dpwestlakedpwestlake Posts: 207
    Nah, Saab pays for the first 3 changes. Just get rid of the car before 120k.
  • lokkilokki Posts: 1,200
    My friend and I both had 88 Integras. I did the timing belt change as called for at 60k miles. He didn't. For about a year and a half, I had to hear from my wife about wasting money (more than $500 bucks) on a timing blet change...

    Then at about 80k, my buddy's belt broke and bent those valves to the tune of about $1,200 bucks. I didn't look so foolish for spending the money after that!
  • bittoo106bittoo106 Posts: 6
    I got my timing belt changed at 98000 miles, The belt looked brand new. I am sure it would have gone another 60k.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    Really? 35,000 miles and Saab actually pays for the first three? Is this correct?

    Wow! You would think they could come up with a better design or something/
  • nygregnygreg Posts: 1,936
    My 92 Camry 4cyl asked for a change every 60K. I went 80K before the first change and another 100K before the second change. Both belts were in good condition when changed. My new Outback asks you to have it checked at 90K and replaced at 105K. I can live with that. Considering that belts break within a range of data, the manufacturers need to be on the cautious side so I expect that the average will last longer than recommended. However, do you want to take that chance? I did, but will probably not going forward.

  • dpwestlakedpwestlake Posts: 207
    Only the V6 had a timing belt, the fours have a chain. They dropped the V6 from the 900/9-3 and are using a different design V6 in the 9-5.
  • newcar31newcar31 Posts: 3,711
    The reason why some companies recommend the timing belt to be changed at 105,000 is because of a California law that states something about car companies not being able to require "major" services to be performed before a certain mileage. For instance, some cars recommend that you replace the belt BEFORE 105,000 miles unless the car is a California car.
  • lngtonge18lngtonge18 Posts: 2,228
    My mom's first 86 Accord went 105K before she changed the belt. Reason being that my dad didn't realize it needed to be changed because it was their first car without a chain. Apparently they were lucky since it was supposed to be changed at 60K. On her 92 Accord they changed the belt at 92k and 180k. Both times the belt looked perfectly fine. The water pump wasn't replaced until the 180k change and it was still working properly. The belt in my 84 VW GTI broke only about 15K after it was changed because they didnt replace the timing belt tensioner pulley and its bearing froze, causing the belt to be shredded. Thankfully, the engine is a non-interference design so it didnt hurt anything. It just idled funny and wouldn't start the next day.
  • spokanespokane Posts: 514
    Ingtonge18 makes a good point that the belt tensioner can cause valve timing to change or the belt to be ruined. I have changed a few tensioners but usually do not. Parts and labor cost for a tensioner replacement are modest but only if it's done at the time of the belt replacement. Does anyone have enough experience with this to suggest whether or not it's worthwhile to replace the tensioner when the timing belt is replaced?
  • gslevegsleve Posts: 183
    I've done many many timing belts and have changed the tensioner most of the time however if the person is dead set against it I'm not responsible, this situation is similar to wher the water pump runs of the timing belt many persons opt not to replace it, however such a choice is a bad idea, while you're in there it's only sensible to replace these parts given there use over time invariably they will go when you least expect it.

    If you're going to do the job logic will tell one to do it right the first time spend the xtra $ for the replacements
  • hmpowerhmpower Posts: 20
    I had an Acura Legend, they recommended changing it at 60,000 miles, but I let it go until about 110,000...definitely testing my luck according to the schedule, but it worked out for me, and when they pulled the belts, they said they didn't look too my Honda calls for it at 105,000, maybe manufacturers were just being overly cautious with the lower mileage intervals in older cars...but like anything else, if you go beyond what is recommended, and it breaks, you're on your own.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    Driving down the freeway with bald tires.

    Will you get a blowout? Probably not.
  • alchemy2alchemy2 Posts: 6
    I recently had our timing belt fail at 110K (original belt) on our 95 Plymouth Voyager 3.0V6. The dealer wanted to replace it at 60K although the manual stated to check the TB at 100K. Luckily the engine is non-interference and no damage occurred. Water pump was also replaced at the same time.
  • dpwestlakedpwestlake Posts: 207
    On Volvo's 2.9L I6 the manual says to replace the timing belt at 70k. After a $5k bill due to a timing sprocket failure on my Saab V6 I decided to take this one seriously.
  • alcanalcan Posts: 2,550
    Changed a timing belt on a '91 Passat last month. And all the intake valves. And the intake camshaft. And the intake camshaft sprocket. We ignored the divots in the pistons. Dealer estimate was $3,000, I managed to do it for $1,800 (aftermarket parts). The belt had just over 100K on it. You pay your dime and you take your chances....
  • 0patience0patience Oregon CoastPosts: 1,712
    You are hearing stories where people push their luck and get lucky. As Alcan said, there are those who don't. I have one vehicle in my garage where they didn't. Asked at 90,000 miles when it should be done, I told them it should have been done already. They just said "well, it is still working". It went at 100,000 miles. Cost - $2800.
    How much did they save to get that extra 10,000 miles? LOL!!
    Oh, by the way, it would have been about $250 to replace the belt. So you decide, do they put those intervals there for you to think they are just trying to get your money, or is there really something to it?
  • spokanespokane Posts: 514
    Gsleve makes a good case for tensioner replacement. I started replacing water pumps with timing belts years ago; as soon as I encountered my first timing belt. Since tensioners usually provide an audible warning, I haven't always replaced them - but I'm having second thoughts. Alcan, is it your practice to always replace the tensioner on a timing belt job - or does this depend on the engine model?

    I have learned to distrust belt appearance as an indicator of condition. A name-brand belt with 30 K-miles on a Chrysler 4-cyl was recently found to be stretched so much that the tensioner couldn't reach it to apply tension. No cracks or visible wear - this overstretched belt looked great.
  • alcanalcan Posts: 2,550
    I usually recommend replacement of the water pump, tensioner (if spring loaded), and crank/cam seals, depending on what has to come back off to access them if there's a failure. Then it's the customer's call. But it's always the same old story. Replace the peripherals and you're trying to jack up the bill by replacing parts unnecessarily. Don't, and have something fail later, and you did shoddy work. C'est la vie. LOL

    P.S. You made a good point about belt stretch. I've had to replace lots of serpentine belts because they'd stretched beyond the adjustment range of the tensioner.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    You bring up a good point. It's always smart to look around and replace questionable items when you are "in there" already.

    But, as you said, this drives the price up.

    To the average customer, cheap is good but when the water pump fails three months later, that same guy will be upset because you didn't change it.

    When I ran a shop, I once tried to save a financially strapped customer a few bucks on a clutch job by reusing her old throwout looked good. BIG MISTAKE!!

    It failed six months leter and she raised so much hell that I got to do the job over for free.

    So much for doing favors!
  • mrdetailermrdetailer Posts: 1,118
    Don't forget a time element for those who have low mileage cars. Did you know that 85% of belts fail after 4 years. Replacing them every 4 years avoids the problem. I'm tired of the towing.

    I had 2 belts replaced in the last 4 years because the tensioner wasn't replaced. It only would have cost another $50.00. In both cases they said it appeared fine when the belt was changed. Next time I'll change the tensioner when I change the belt, whether it needs it or not. I would especially do this on an impact engine.

    If it's around 100,000 miles I'll also change the cam seals from now on. My Mazda at 90,000 had no cam and crankcase seal leaks. Now at 115,000 it does. I just got an estimate for the repair. $236.00. Of that only $30.00 for the seal parts and $40.00 for labor. The rest is for the @#$% timing belt removel to get to the seals. The belt is also swollen with oil so I'll just replace it again too.
  • alcanalcan Posts: 2,550
    You are exactly the kind of person to put forth an appropriate perspective on this issue. Not financially motivated, not brand loyal, no axes to grind. Just a couple of lessons from the school of hard knocks. Please folks, when it's time for service get ALL of it serviced. Thanks for the post, Mr D.
  • eharri3eharri3 Posts: 645
    I believe the recommended replacement interval is 60 thousand miles, I had it done a the dealer for just under 200 bucks at 65K. I take frequent 2 hour trips during which I would rather not be stranded, and need the truck to least at least another 5 years without major repairs beyond scheduled maintenance. I have no inclination to take my chances with that sort of thing. Had the fan belt or serpentine belt done at the same time.

    Currently at 71K, all dealer maintenance every 5 thousand miles, feels like it could go another 100K.
  • fivespeedfivespeed Posts: 42
    That statement is misleading.

    It is too generalized.

    It implies that in the fifth year of service, the probability of a timing belt failure to occur is 85%...even though the mileage is below what the manufacturers specifies! I said "implies"..

    IMO, changing low mileage timing belts out every four years is as useless as changing oil and filter every 2,500 miles on an everyday use vehicle.

    Actually the more often one lets "billy bob" the mechanic loose under their hood the greater the probability screwing up something else.

    Although several things were touched upon in that post, I'd like to focus on the "changes" mentioned. The clowns that changed out mrdetailer's belts w/o tensioner replacement probably messed-up more things up than they repaired (if the truth be known). You guys know this could very well happen...not everyone is "Mr. Goodwrench".

    Call this statement a "medaphor" if you want....but in the real world it is true. The more things are monkeyed with in key system areas, the greater exposure there is to screw-ups. That's likely to be true about...say 85% of the time, No?

    As far as timing belts go, my '91 Mazda went just over 6 years and 82,000 miles before I voluntarily had it replaced.
    My ASE mechanic specialized in Japanese vehicles. That was a plus IMO. The old belt was worn, didn't look that bad to the naked eye. Fortunately, the car sustained no accidental "injuries" during the operation.
    Wish I could say that for other repair experiences.

This discussion has been closed.