A timing belt is one of the most crucial components of an engine. If bad timing belt symptoms turn up, engine performance may decline.
With a faulty timing belt, the camshaft and crankshaft rotation system cannot function harmoniously. In return, engine valves could fail to open and close as scheduled.
Although timing belts are sturdy and efficient, they do not last long due to running in high heat and pressure environments.
Identifying faulty timing belt symptoms is vital if you want your truck to run efficiently.
Table of Contents
- Timing Belt Issues- Bad Timing Belt Symptoms: A To Z
- Solutions For The Bad Timing Belt Symptoms
- Drive Belt Vs Timing Belt: Face-to-Face Comparison
- How Long Can You Drive With a Bad Timing Belt
- FAQs On Bad Timing Belt Symptoms
- How can I replace my bad timing belt?
- Can I distinguish the sound of a failing timing belt from other engine noises?
- Can a damaged timing belt cause the engine to misfire?
- What will happen if I never bother to check the timing belt?
- What if I want to replace my timing belt at home and avoid installation costs?
- Can the above symptoms only arise due to a bad timing belt?
Timing Belt Issues- Bad Timing Belt Symptoms: A To Z
Before replacing a timing belt, you should first notice the symptoms of wear and tear. They include the following:
01. Engine having a ticking or clicking noise
Never assume a ticking or clicking sound from your truck engine as it may indicate a damaged timing belt. Often, this belt uses a pulley system that goes into the crankshaft and camshaft.
A crankshaft runs the connecting rods attached to the pistons in the combustion chamber.
A camshaft powers the cylinder head valves and rocker arm assembly to deliver fuel to the combustion chamber. After the combustion process, fumes leave the engine via the exhaust manifold.
If the timing belt wears down, you might notice some ticking or clicking noise inside the engine. Still, the sound may indicate a low oil pressure.
See more: can low oil cause camshaft position sensor?
02. No ignition
If a timing belt has irrecoverable damage, the engine might refuse to ignite when you turn the key.
Instead, the engine starter might respond but not complete the action because the timing belt cannot run the crankshaft and camshaft system.
A broken timing belt also means you can no longer drive your car. If the engine ignites, the timing belt might rip apart when the vehicle is working.
And if that occurs, the cylinder head pushrods, valves, and rocker’s arms could sustain severe damage.
03. Oil begins to leak
Have you noticed that your engine is leaking oil? If yes, check the timing belt cover for signs of looseness. A few nuts and bolts tighten the timing belt cover.
They can loosen over time. If the gasket between the engine and timing belt cover begins to break apart, it can allow the oil to leak.
Oil leakage causes the engine to overheat, triggering other costly issues.
04. The exhaust manifold removes black smoke and makes noise
Have you recently noticed that your vehicle’s exhaust pipe is removing a lot of black fumes? If so, the problem could relate to issues with your timing belt.
Excess smoke shows that the engine is working harder than necessary to combust fuel, but it is not burning all of it.
A mixture of fumes and non-combusted fuel may ruin the catalyst within the manifold.
05. A truck’s RPM meter acts differently
Each truck has its normal RPMs (revolutions per minute). If you have noted that your RPM meter is acting differently, the timing belt might be the cause.
Chances are that its teeth are missing or the belt has broken. Do not be surprised to find out that the timing belt has no signs of damage. If that is the case, you should still replace it.
06. A timing belt looks torn
If you inspect the timing belt and notice it is worn out and tired, it is time to change it. A worn-out timing belt will have some tiny cracks.
If you ignore them, they will enlarge and expose the internal threads. Still, as the timing belt continues to crack, fragments might get into the engine.
After that, the engine might start to act up. Not everyone knows how to check a timing belt’s working condition.
Usually, there are two ways mechanics use to see if a timing belt is fine. They either conduct a visual inspection or use a timing gun.
- Visual inspection – Unfasten the two bolts used to secure the timing cover. After that, inspect the timing belt closely to see if some of its teeth are missing or if it has tiny or large cracks. Teeth loss is the top reason a timing belt fails to function well. Also, spin the timing belt slightly to see if it is loose and noisy.
- Timing gun or light – After connecting the gun light to the battery terminals, place the inductor sensor on the first plug wire. Then, ignite the engine. Use some bright paint to mark a spot on the pulley. When you flash the gun light on the pulley, as the engine runs, check the position of the painted area. If the mark sticks on a single place, the timing belt is fine and vice versa.
Solutions For The Bad Timing Belt Symptoms
- Engine noises – Inspect the timing belt immediately. Install a new timing belt if you do not see signs of damage but have covered at least 60,000 miles. Simultaneously, check if the engine has other issues and repair them.
- Engine won’t start – A timing belt is seldom the only reason an engine may refuse to ignite. Nevertheless, it is the main suspect, and you should inspect it to learn if it is functioning. If it is not, replace the belt as soon as possible. Should you not see any damage to it, allow an expert mechanic to help diagnose other engine issues.
- Oil leaking – If you notice oil around the engine, that is a bad sign. Again, check if your timing belt is operating fine using any of the two recommended methods. If it has been a long time since you changed your timing belt, replace it and see if the oil continues to leak.
- Black smoke – Examine the timing belt to see if it has signs of damage and replace it. Also, check the manifold system to see if the catalyst is okay.
- RPM meter – Replace your timing belt if one or more of its teeth are missing. Also, change whether it has some small cracks or seems fine.
- Looks worn out – Do you notice physical damage to the timing belt? No other sign is more direct than this. If you find small or large cracks, replace the timing belt immediately.
Drive Belt Vs Timing Belt: Face-to-Face Comparison
If you drive a modern truck or car, it probably has a timing belt and a drive belt. But are the two belts similar or different?
They are different in the following ways:
A timing belt ensures that the crankshaft and camshaft rotate in sync. Thus, it ensures that the two parts act on time.
In contrast, a drive belt moves different car accessories outside the engine. These accessories include the alternator, water pump, power steering pump, and AC compressor.
See more: can i drive my car with a bad ac compressor?
While the drive belt runs outside the engine, the timing belt is inside a protected place with a cover.
Due to their varying locations in the car, these components affect it differently when they break down.
One pays more to replace a timing belt than a drive belt. First, not every driver can replace their timing belt at home, and the component itself is expensive to buy.
Hence, you must account for the buying cost of the timing belt and the installation cost if you cannot do the task at home.
Besides, some people might find it hard to inspect the timing belt correctly at home.
04. How the damage impacts the car
If a timing belt wears down, you can be sure the vehicle will not work. A faulty timing belt might cause severe engine damage, explaining why it needs immediate replacement.
On the contrary, a damaged drive belt does not ruin your engine or stop the car from working. However, the parts it drives could fail to work.
In modern vehicles, there can be many drive belts at once. As a result, a drive belt can be a complicated pulley system.
On the other hand, any modern car will have only one timing belt. Hence, a timing belt working mechanism is direct to the point.
How Long Can You Drive With a Bad Timing Belt
A timing belt is sturdy enough to last 60,000 to 105,000 miles. However, this varies with the brand as some manufacturers have low-quality products.
Even if the manual states that your timing belt can last several miles, it may not be durable in the actual sense. Some of your actions can shorten the belt’s longevity.
For instance, how and where you drive your truck can trigger premature failure. Make sure you inspect your timing belt every 10,000 miles.
Regular inspections will let you replace a timing belt every 60,000 to 90,000 miles. Consistent belt replacements can protect the engine from damage and keep your truck working.
But how long can you drive a car with a bad timing belt? Once the timing belt fails, the vehicle will not work.
If you start the engine with your key, the starter will engage but will not finish the action. There can be a situation where a timing belt has not failed.
Thus, the car will start, but the timing belt could break while it is in motion. After that, you would not use a car before repairing it.
Bad Timing Belt Symptoms For Proper Diagnosis
FAQs On Bad Timing Belt Symptoms
How can I replace my bad timing belt?
If you feel confident enough to try this at home, there are specific steps to follow. These include:
Step 1: Gather the correct tools, including your torque wrench, a new timing belt, work light, sockets, and ratchet. Park the car on a firm and even ground and activate the handbrake.
Step 2: Detach the battery terminals to eliminate electricity flow. Remove various engine accessories that run via a drive belt together with it.
Support your truck with a jack stand and remove the engine mounts.
Step 3: Detach the crankshaft pulley system by unfastening the bolt with a removal tool for sale. Remove the timing cover bolts with your torque wrench and socket.
Create the timing marks on the crankshaft, camshaft, valve cover, and oil pan.
Step 4: Let go of the timing belt tensioner to remove the worn-out belt easily. Once you remove the belt, install the new timing belt. Restore the timing cover, crankshaft pulley, and drive belt systems correctly.
Finish the exercise, start the engine, and let it idle for a few minutes.
Can I distinguish the sound of a failing timing belt from other engine noises?
Yes, because the noise will be in the front area of your car. As we said earlier, this will be a ticking or clicking noise.
When the timing belt finally breaks, the engine will have no compression. Hence, the noise might change to a whining one.
Can a damaged timing belt cause the engine to misfire?
Yes, the engine can misfire if the timing belt becomes faulty.
As it is the component that makes the crankshaft and camshaft spin in tandem, a damaged belt can directly affect the engine.
What will happen if I never bother to check the timing belt?
Most timing belts are durable and reliable for several kilometers or miles. Even so, manufacturers recommend checking your timing belts after driving every 10,000 miles.
If you ignore this rule, you could easily go beyond the recommended timing belt replacement date.
By then, it might have many small and large cracks and could be about to break.
What if I want to replace my timing belt at home and avoid installation costs?
Even if a timing belt is a single rope running via the crankshaft and camshaft assemblies, it is pretty complex.
Unless you are an excellent DIY mechanic, you would be best engaging a professional.
Can the above symptoms only arise due to a bad timing belt?
While a ruined timing belt can trigger engine misfires, it is not the only cause of this problem. Hence, you should replace the belt if you have surpassed the recommended period.
If symptoms persist, locate other engine issues.
We have discussed various bad timing belt symptoms and the solutions. If you noticed any of these signs, inspect the timing belt to be sure it is fine.
Also, replace the belt if you have covered more than 60,000 miles without changing it. Sometimes the timing belt will appear perfect yet that does not mean it is okay.
Replace it if you have not done it for a long time.
Originally from England, I’ve been repairing cars for over 16 years and am an automotive journalist. I’ve been working on cars for as long as I can remember, and it’s one of the best jobs I’ve ever had.
It is my intention to be your mechanic friend, that person who will assist you with any problem you may have with your vehicle and explain in detail how the problem can be fixed to you as soon as possible.
I produce and anchor a weekly auto news program. As well as providing insights into all things automotive, including expert analysis of the latest trends in the automotive industry, and ensuring you always know where to go for the latest automotive news, I also provide insight into all things automotive before the news breaks.
If I am not working, I am a riding motorcyclist and I do volunteer work with local charities whenever I have time. When I’m not riding my motorcycles or volunteering at local charities, you will find me at home in Portland, Oregon.