It can be difficult to tell if your timing belt is worn out.

Your car’s timing belt is sealed in its own housing, which makes it extremely difficult to check on your own. Timing belts should be left to expert mechanics who have experience dealing with them. An experienced mechanic will know the tell-tale signs of wear, as well as other potential issues that could be affecting the timing belt’s condition, operation, and other engine systems and functions.

Related: Transmission Problems You Should Not Ignore

What does a timing belt do, anyway?

In a nutshell, your engine won’t run without a fully functional timing belt.

image of timing belt, closeup inside clean, new engine.The timing belt rotates the engine’s cam and crankshaft in sync to ensure each cylinder fires at the right time. The timing belt controls the action of the pistons and valves inside the engine cylinders to ensure the valves open in perfect time with the pistons. If this timing is off, the engine will run erratically, if it runs at all.

The timing belt is usually located inside a housing, or cover, that protects it from all the oil, grim, and dirt that can flow into and around an engine compartment. It’s usually made of industrial strength rubber with nylon-reinforced cords inside. It is subject to a lot of stress and strain as it works to keep things moving, all regulated in proper time. Even though it’s made to last, it will need to be replaced eventually.

Rubber timing belts are found in the vast majority of engines found in small cars and SUVs, particularly 4 cylinder – but some cars don’t have timing belts. In larger engines that put out more power the timing belt is replaced with a timing chain, which looks much like a bicycle chain. Metal chains serve the same purpose as belts, but last a lot longer. Some manufacturers recommend changing the chain at certain intervals, but not the same as for rubber timing belts. Some manufacturers state that the chain does not need to be replaced and will last as long as the car. The downside to chains is that if they fail, they cause a lot more damage than a rubber belt failure. Either scenario is not good, and both can require costly repairs – but a failed timing belt might only result in engine header repairs, whereas a failed timing chain might require a complete engine replacement (or new car, if you prefer).

Now that you understand the importance of timing belts…

How do you tell if it’s about to fail?

Even though it’s difficult to get at the timing belt to do a visual or physical check, there are some signs you can be aware of that hint at trouble with the timing belt. Pay attention to these indicators so you don’t end up with costly repairs or, worse yet, a ruined engine.

Ticking or clicking noises in the engine.

When the timing belt wears out, it can cause a ticking or clicking sound to emanate from the engine. Because the belt is attached through a series of pulleys to the engine’s cam and crankshaft, and those complex systems are regulated by the timing belt, if something is amiss on either side – belt or cam/crankshaft – this sound is an indicator of trouble. This sound can also indicate low oil pressure, which in turn can affect the timing belt. There is a tensioner that keeps the belt taut, and that tensioner is pressurized by the engine oil. If the tensioner has no oil pressure, the belt will become loose and possibly disengage from the pulleys and/or break. Additionally, if the camshafts don’t have enough to operate properly, they will lock up, which can cause the timing belt to break.

Engine runs rough or misfires.

image of clean, new modern car engine.A worn out belt will affect the engine’s timing, and possibly cause it to misfire. As mentioned earlier in the article, the timing belt controls the precisely timed action of the pistons and valves inside the engine cylinders to ensure the valves open in unison with the pistons. If the belt is worn or loose, it will slip and cause cylinders to open and close earlier than they should. If this timing is off, the engine will run erratically, if it runs at all. Engine misfiring is a sign of trouble that should be checked as soon as possible, otherwise you are risking serious engine damage.

Engine won’t start.

There are a lot of reasons your car won’t start, and a broken timing belt is one of the more costly ones. Fortunately, it’s difficult to ignore the problem of your car not starting, so the chances of the timing belt being diagnosed as the cause is much better than if you keep driving and ignore the problem until it became critical. Of course, if the timing belt breaks while you’re driving, you definitely notice! But simply put, a broken timing belt means the car will not start, and there is possibly other damage to the engine. The starter motor will engage, but the car won’t turn over – it won’t even tease you, there will be no response. Some damage that might occur can be to the cylinder heads, as well as to the crankshaft bearings, oil pump or water pump.

Related: My Check Engine Light Is On

Squealing sounds.

The squealing might occur at different times, such as accelerating, decelerating and braking, or just idling. Whenever that annoying sound occurs, it’s something to pay attention to and have checked out by a mechanic. There are a few possible causes for such noises to be coming from your car, and all of them might mean repairs – but if it’s a worn out timing belt on the verge of breaking, it’s best to know! Take your car to a mechanic right away.

Related: Reasons Your Car is Squealing

image of girl smiling, sitting in driver seat, hand on steering wheel, looking at you over shoulder out window.AAMCO Colorado Can Diagnose and Fix Your Timing Belt

Visit an AAMCO Colorado transmission repair and total car care center near you. When issues arise and you need to have your timing belt checked or replaced, as well as any repairs needed due to damage from a broken timing belt, book an appointment.
If you have questions about your car’s road readiness, or about car repair and maintenance topics, AAMCO Colorado can help. You can also go online and use the AAMCO Colorado Ask a Mechanic feature to submit your auto repair questions. They will be answered by a real AAMCO Colorado mechanic as soon as possible.


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If you have an automatic transmission, you expect your car to stay in place when you put it in park. If your car rolls when in park, or your transmission is slipping or you’re experiencing other issues, bring your car to AAMCO for a complete multi-point inspection. This will help identify any possible issues that need to be repaired. Read more…

Change Your Transmission Filter

A transmission filter prevents dirt and debris from getting into the gears and other parts of the transmission system. It is positioned above the transmission pan, which collects excess fluid, and below the pickup tube that connects to the oil pump, which regulates the pressure of fluid in the transmission. Read more…

Why Does My Car Shake When Stopped or Idling?

Your car should run smoothly, whether moving or stopped. If it shakes while it idles, you could be in for a visit to the mechanic. When your car is functioning properly it should run smoothly in all driving modes – moving fast, slowly, stopped and idling. A sign that the engine needs to be checked, and possibly need some repairs, is when your car shakes as it idles.
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Find a Local AAMCO Colorado Auto Repair Center

 
AAMCO Greeley all north

2445 West 29th St. | Greeley, Colorado, 80631

(970) 330-4858
Hours of Operation:
Monday-Friday 8:00am to 5:30pm
Saturdays: 9:00am to 1:00pm
Also serving: Loveland, Windsor, Evans, Fort Morgan, and Johnstown.

At AAMCO of Greeley, Colorado you can expect the best quality service for Greeley transmission repair, Greeley oil and filter change, cooling and radiator service, Greeley brake repair and service, fluid service, strut and shock repair, Greeley car tune-up service, and all your other Greeley auto repair needs. Come visit a Greeley mechanic at your neighborhood Greeley AAMCO Center today and see why we stake our reputation on our award-winning customer service.

AAMCO Colorado Springs all south

432 W. Garden of the Gods Rd. | Colorado Springs, CO, 80907

(719) 599-8843
Hours of Operation:
Mon-Fri: 7:30am – 5:30pm
Sat: 9:00am – 1:00pm
Serving Colorado Springs, Manitou, Fort Carson & surrounding areas.

At AAMCO Colorado Springs transmission center we specialize in transmissions, but we can handle all your car repair and maintenance needs. From tune ups and factory recommended maintenance, to oil changes, brakes, exhaust system and muffler repairs, shocks and struts, radiators, cooling systems, and air conditioning, we’ll keep your car in top operating condition. Your vehicle will receive total car care and transmission repair by knowledgeable, well-trained, expert technicians.

Honda Acura Expert
AAMCO Colorado Springs has in-house experience in Honda Acura transmissions and repairs. Our expert can help you with any issues you have, from Civic to Pilot, ILX to MDX, Integra to Legend. Call or make an appointment today with our expert Honda Acura service technician.

AAMCO Aurora - Hampden & Tower all metro

18355-A E. Girard Avenue | Aurora, CO, 80013

(303) 400-4842
Hours of Operation: Mon-Fri: 8:00am to 5:30pm

At AAMCO of Aurora, Colorado transmissions and car care center (located on E. Girard Ave, at Hampden and Tower Rd.) we care about your vehicle as much as you do. We specialize in affordable transmission rebuilds and replacements, but we also provide complete auto repair and maintenance services such as oil and filter changes, cooling and radiator services, brakes, shocks and struts, exhaust systems and much more.

AAMCO Aurora - E Colfax Ave all metro

14871 E Colfax Avenue | Aurora, CO, 80011

(303) 366-4842
Hours of Operation: Mon-Fri: 8:00am to 5:00pm

As your local, independent AAMCO of Aurora (East Colfax Ave.) we stake our reputation on our award-winning customer service and high-quality auto repair. Come in to your neighborhood Aurora, Colorado AAMCO Center today for affordable, reliable auto repair and maintenance. From cars and trucks to 4x4's and AWD's, we've got you covered!

AAMCO Arvada all metro

6437 Miller Street | Arvada, Colorado, 80004

(303) 431-1991
Hours of Operation:
Mon-Fri: 7:30am to 5:30pm,
Sat: 8:00am to 12:00pm
Also Serving: Westminster, Wheat Ridge, Golden, Idaho Springs, and Georgetown.

At AAMCO transmission and auto repair of Arvada, Colorado we know what it takes to keep your vehicle running smoothly. Let us provide you with the best transmission repair and service, oil and filter change, cooling and radiator service, brake repair and service, fluid service, strut and shock repair, car tune-up service, and much, much more.

AAMCO Lakewood all metro

8808 W Colfax Avenue | Lakewood, Colorado, 80215

(303) 234-1263
Hours of Operation
Mon-Fri: 7:30am – 5:30pm
Sat: 8:00am – 1:00pm
Also Serving: Golden, Evergreen, Wheat Ridge, Conifer, and Edgewater.

At AAMCO of Lakewood, Colorado, we work hard to provide you with the best transmission repair and auto maintenance services around. From oil and filter change, cooling and radiator service, brake repair and service, to fluid service, strut and shock repair, tune-ups and more, your locally owned and operated Lakewood AAMCO center is your one-stop shop for auto repair and maintenance. Whether you need exceptional auto repair or just want to talk with a mechanic, your local, independent AAMCO of Lakewood, Colorado dealer can help. Come in to your neighborhood Lakewood AAMCO Center today for affordable, friendly, and reliable auto repair and maintenance services.

AAMCO Brighton all metro

10500 Havana Ct Unit A | Brighton, CO, 80601

(303) 287-5181
Hours of Operation: Mon-Fri: 8:00am - 5:00pm

When you bring your car to AAMCO of Brighton, Colorado you'll see firsthand how much we care about giving you the best service possible for all your transmission and auto repair needs. We offer a full range of automotive maintenance and repair services, including transmission rebuilds, oil and filter changes, air conditioning repair, engine cooling system and radiator service, brake repairs and service, fluid service, suspensions, tune-ups, exhaust systems, and more.

AAMCO Littleton all metro

10168 W. Chatfield Ave. | Littleton, CO, 80127

(303) 933-1535
Hours of Operation
Mon-Fri: 7:30am – 5:30pm
Sat: 9:00am – 1:00pm

At AAMCO Transmissions of Littleton, Colorado, our mission is to provide the best customer service and auto repair in Littleton. We provide total car care – from oil and filter change, cooling and radiator repairs, to brake service, struts and shocks, exhaust systems, and more. Your locally owned and operated AAMCO of Littleton, Colorado transmission center is your one-stop shop for transmission repairs and auto maintenance and repairs.

AAMCO Fort Collins all north

3737 S. Mason Street | Ft. Collins, Colorado, 80525

(970) 226-4477
Hours of Operation:
Mon-Fri: 7:30am – 5:30pm
Sat: 9:00am – 1:00pm
Also Serving: Loveland, Estes Park, Windsor, Wellington, and Laramie.

As your local, independent AAMCO Fort Collins, Colorado transmission repair dealer, we promise you’ll find the help you need and a local Fort Collins auto repair experience you’ll want to repeat. Come in to your neighborhood Ft. Collins AAMCO Transmission Center today to visit an expert mechanic for honest and affordable auto repair and maintenance services.

AAMCO Evergreen all metro mountain

27659 County Hwy 74 | Evergreen, Colorado, 80439

(720) 708-6954
Hours of Operation:
Mon-Fri: 8:00am to 5:00pm,
Also Serving: Kittredge, Idledale, Morrison, Idaho Springs, and Georgetown.

AAMCO transmission and auto repair of Evergreen, Colorado provides you with the best local transmission repair and service, oil change, brake repair and service, cooling and radiator service, fluid service, struts and shocks repair, car tune-up, and much more. We know what it takes to keep your vehicle running smoothly - in the mountains or down in the city. Come to AAMCO Transmission Repair and Auto Service Center in Evergreen, CO for the best service around.

AAMCO Pueblo all south

1910 W US Hwy 50 | Pueblo, Colorado, 81008

(719) 542-8040
Hours of Operation:
Mon-Fri: 8:00am – 5:00pm
Sat: 8:00am – 4:00pm

At AAMCO transmission and auto repair of Pueblo, Colorado we know what it takes to keep your vehicle running smoothly. Let us provide you with the best transmission repair and service, oil and filter change, cooling and radiator service, brake repair and service, fluid service, strut and shock repair, car tune-up service, and much, much more.

AAMCO Northglenn all metro

11450 Huron Street | Northglenn, Colorado, 80234

(303) 451-5400
Hours of Operation
Mon-Fri: 7:30am – 5:30pm
Sat: 9:00am – 1:00pm
Also Serving: Dupont, Westminster, Welby, and Henderson.

When you need affordable, expert auto repair, visit your local AAMCO of Northglenn, Colorado. We work hard to set the standards in tranmission repair, rebuilds, and auto repair by offering you superior service, technology, and expertise at a price you can afford. From oil and filter changes, cooling and radiator services to brake repairs, fluid services, struts and shock repairs, tune-ups and more, your locally owned and operated Northglenn AAMCO transmissions and total car care center is your one-stop shop.

AAMCO Longmont all metro

1611 Vista View Dr | Longmont, Colorado, 80504

(303) 651-0443
Hours of Operation: Mon-Fri: 7:30am – 5:30pm

When you visit your locally owned and operated AAMCO of Longmont, Colorado, you’ll see why we stake our reputation on our award-winning customer service and superior auto repair. With high-quality service in areas like transmission repair and auto maintenance, we are your #1 shop for oil and filter changes, cooling and radiator service, brake repair and service, fluid service, strut and shock repair, and tune-ups, and more. We offer the fast, reliable maintenance you need at an affordable price.

AAMCO Denver all metro

187 W. Alameda Ave. | Denver, CO, 80223

(303) 462-2626
Hours of Operation:
Mon-Fri: 8am – 5pm, Sat: 9:30am – 1pm
Also Serving: Edgewater, LoDo, Cherry Creek, Glendale, Park Hill, & Stapleton.

At AAMCO Denver Transmission Shop we take the difficulty and hassle out of your Transmission Repair. We have a simple mission: provide the highest quality transmission repair, rebuilds and customer service in the Denver metro area. When you visit your local AAMCO center in Denver, Colorado you can be sure your auto repair is in the hands of experienced, well-trained auto mechanics. AAMCO Denver also serves the greater metro area, including Glendale, Cherry Creek, Park Hill, and Englewood.

Foreign Car Transmission Experts
AAMCO Denver has in-house experience servicing transmissions for many makes and models of foreign cars. Our mechanics can help you with any transmission issues you have, from Audi and BMW to Mercedes and VW, Honda and Hyundai to Kia and Toyota. Call or make an appointment today with our expert service technicians.

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