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Should I replace the timing gear after buying a used car?

If you have bought a used car with more than 100 km, there is a very important, often overlooked obligation to take into account. Maybe you have found a suitable car in your price range. One of the next steps is to check if your vehicle has a timing chain or belt as timing belt repair is a significant expense.

What is a timing belt?

When we talk about timing belts, we do not mean serpentine or accessory drive belts that drive the generator, power steering, air conditioning and the like, but rather the timing belt that drives the camshaft. A timing belt or chain is an engine component that connects the crankshaft to the camshaft and controls the opening and closing of the valves. Sometimes the timing belt also drives the water pump and / or the oil pump. It is an extremely important part of your engine.

Timing belt and timing chain

It can be difficult to try to find out if your vehicle's engine has a timing chain or belt. However, with some effort, you should be able to figure it out. You can check the maintenance schedule in the owner's manual if it is still available. In many cases, the owner's manuals are available on the car manufacturer's website. You can also use the Internet to search for information about your vehicle. 

Replace the timing belt according to the mileage specified by the manufacturer

There is a fundamental difference between a timing chain and a timing belt. If the vehicle has a timing chain, there is no specific time to replace it as part of the normal service procedure. However, if the vehicle has a timing belt, there is a very specific time limit for replacing it. Timing belt replacement is generally recommended every 90 to more than 000 km depending on the vehicle manufacturer. 

Why is it important to regularly replace the timing belt?

If the timing belt is not replaced as recommended, it could break. For malfunction engines that are manufactured to very tight tolerances, a cracked timing belt will cause the valves to strike the pistons, resulting in severe internal engine damage. Even if you don't have an interference-fit motor, a broken timing belt can leave your car stuck, causing huge headaches and costly engine damage.

Engine damage due to broken timing belt

Replacing the timing belt, which usually involves replacing the water pump (since the timing belt also drives the pump), can cost anywhere from a thousand zlotys and up; it is an expensive and extremely important service procedure. 

How to determine if the timing belt has been replaced

There are several situations to consider when buying a used car. If you've found a car you like and has a timing belt, the next question to ask is "has it been replaced?" If the dealer determines that the belt has been replaced, request proof such as a parts receipt if the repair was done by a DIY enthusiast, or a service report if the repair was done by an independent repairer or dealer.

Bidding when the timing belt needs to be replaced

If the timing belt has not been replaced and your vehicle is close to replacing the timing belt, think about how that might affect the value of the vehicle when bidding. Chances are that the owner is unwilling to pay the cost even if the car appears to be in good condition and the dealer is offering it at a low price. If a timing belt replacement is imminent, adjust your bid for the cost of replacing the timing belt.