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What actually happens when your cambelt is replaced?

Ellie Dyer-Brown, 11 months ago

5 min read

  • Advice
  • Repair
cambelt change mobile-2-1

WhoCanFixMyCar explains exactly what happens when your cambelt is replaced.

The cambelt - also known as the timing belt - is an important component in your car's engine. Unfortunately, despite cambelt replacement being inevitable at some point during a car's lifetime, many drivers are in the dark about what a cambelt is and what it does, which is why we've created this guide.

Contents:

What is a cambelt?

What does a cambelt look like?

Where is the cambelt on a car?

When should a cambelt be changed?

What actually happens when your cambelt is replaced?


What is a cambelt?

Simply put, the role of a cambelt is to control the timing of your car's internal combustion engine - it determines when the valves to cylinders open and close. These valves let fuel and air in and out, while the crankshaft moves the pistons up and down at the same time.


What does a cambelt look like?

The cambelt is designed to be strong, which is why it's made of sturdy materials like Kevlar. It has teeth on it which help to keep the camshaft and crankshaft in time. That's why it's also sometimes called a timing belt.


Where is the cambelt on a car?

To make sure that the timing is correct, the cambelt is carefully placed down one side of your engine. The best way to find out whether your car has a cambelt and where it is placed is to look in the owner's manual.


When should a cambelt be changed?

Like most components of a car, the cambelt will wear itself out eventually. However, it is such a key part of kit that its decline can cause a lot of further engine damage.

Much like clutch replacement, it's better to get the job done quickly to prevent any further damage.

On average, mechanics state that your cambelt will need replacing every 4- 6 years, however this varies depending on your car make and model.

The most common time when a faulty cambelt is identified is during your annual MOT servicing. Replacing it can be quite costly as it involves a lot of labour.

Your car’s manual may also give a recommendation of cambelt replacement intervals.

Unfortunately, there are often little to no signs that your cambelt is dying, as it is hidden deep within the engine. Occasionally, you will hear a rattling or slapping noise prior to cambelt failure, or you may notice some corrosive damage upon a visual examination.


What actually happens when your cambelt is replaced?

The exact location of your cambelt varies depending on your car make and model. How easy the part is to access will also affect the cost and labour time.

  • The first step is to take off the fan belt by loosening the nuts and pushing the alternator down. Remove the bolts from the cambelt cover, then take both the top and bottom cover off.

  • After unscrewing the bottom cover, you should then be able to see the timing belt.

  • The mechanic will typically mark the cogs at this point in order to remember where they line up for piecing it all back together at the end.

  • The bolt on the tensioner pulley is loosened. The mechanic presses down on it which will cause the belt to come off.

  • The next step of the process is to put the new belt on.

  • The new belt is slipped over the cogs then loosened on the tensioner pulley which actually tightens the new cambelt up.

  • A wrench is then used to ensure that the bolts are super tight in order to keep the tensioner in place.

  • The final stage is then to put the rest of your timing belt back together again in reverse order.

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As you’re probably thinking, this process is not simple and is therefore best left to the professionals.


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