What is the difference between a cambelt and a timing belt?


Timing belts, otherwise known as cambelts, and cam or timing change essentially perform the same jobs, but they are of a different design. 


A cambelt is made of rubber or polymer, and is toothed so that it sits on pulleys, tensioners and cranks. Generally, you'll be advised when you purchase your vehicle the rate that you will need to check and replace your timing belts, as the time scale can vary depending on the type of car you own. 



Like the name suggests, a timing chain is a chain that sits in place of the belt. Their different design and material composition means that cam chains generally need to be replaced less often. They are designed to work for a longer period of time, but will only continue to be reliable if the vehicle’s engine is serviced or checked regularly. It's recommended that you get your cam chain checked as part of your health check, as they can begin to stretch causing decreased performance, or even snap, and may require (depending on the engine configuration) an expensive engine rebuild which can end up being an incredibly expensive fix, which may not suit your monthly budget if it comes as a surprise. Cam or timing chains can become noisy and ‘rattly’, leaving them at risk of snapping. This is a good indication that your timing chain needs replacing. If your timing chain is stretched or you think it may be in poor condition, pop into any of our autocentres and we’ll carry out a health check.

Why do I need my timing belt replacing?

When it comes to car servicing, timing belt/cambelt replacement is without doubt the most important serviceable component of a car’s engine. It does what it says by keeping the camshaft and crankshaft in time with each other, but if left unchanged and could fail, potentially causing severe damage to your engine.

It is important that you know the replacement interval of your timing belt/cambelt as going over the manufacturers’ recommendation can lead to a potential failure. In many cases this requires a new engine or engine build costing hundreds if not thousands of pounds. Sometimes it may equate to an uneconomical repair.

If a timing belt slips or even snaps, in most instances, it will result in the internal workings of the engine crashing into one another. As soon as the ‘timing’ is lost, the moving parts inside the engine are no longer being controlled, so large and expensive failures can occur. Sometimes repairs can be made, but in some instances a completely new engine is required.

How do I know if my timing belt needs replacing?

More often than not, there are no warning signs of an impending failure of a belt, so it is hugely important to contact us to find out your belt change interval. Occasionally, timing chains can become noisy, so if your vehicle starts to make rattling noises, it is extremely important to get it checked out.

How often should I have my cambelt checked or replaced?

If you’re unsure of the last time your cambelt was replaced, let us know your vehicle details and we will advise you of your timing belt interval. If your timing belt change is due either by the age of the vehicle, or the miles covered (whichever occurs sooner), we would strongly recommend you book in with us as soon as possible to have the replacement work carried out. We’d be more than happy to help!

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