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James, I hear that today’s cars need to change timing belts on a regular basis. I have a 1999 Honda Accord and my owner’s manual says that I need to change my timing belt after 7 years or 60 thousand miles. My question is: What would happen to the engine if I waited till the timing belt broke or started making noise before I changed it? Wayne H. St Joe

Dear Wayne, If you decide to wait till the timing belt starts making noise or breaks, you will be very, very sad. In fact you may want to replace your car when this happens due to the high cost that it will take to fix it to pre-broken timing belt condition. When it comes to timing belts you must be pro-active and change it before it is time to change it. The timing belt replacement guide is just that, a guide to when it is suggested to replace it. I have seen timing belts break before it is due to be changed, and I have seen them last years past the point of needing to be changed. Of course to do the job correctly (so that you will get your money’s worth) other components need to be changed. Such as the timing belt tensioner, the water pump and camshaft and crankshaft oil seals. (Or anything that is driven by or behind the timing belt) Too many repair shops only change the timing belt, then 6 months to a year later when your warranty has expired, catastrophic engine damage may occur( if any of these parts I mentioned above were not replaced when the timing belt was replaced.) Now, not all cars will damage the engine when the timing belt breaks. These engines are called non-Interference engines. When the timing belt breaks, you need a tow into you local repair shop to replace the timing belt and all the other related parts needed. This problem is an inconvenience and does not do any engine damage. However, most of today’s vehicles are interference engines. And when the timing belt breaks, things get bent and twisted along with your checkbook. And your Honda is one of those expensive interference engines. So don’t delay, replace it as soon as you can or get ready to ride the trolley to work.


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