If you looked at a cutaway of a car's engine in action, you would be amazed to see just how many moving parts there are and how they all seem to work together in harmony to produce its power. Certainly, each component has its own role to play in generating that energy and transferring it towards the gearbox, but it would all simply be mayhem without one particular part. Just like an animated policeman is able to control traffic in the middle of a busy Sydney intersection, the timing belt makes sure that there is order in this crazy mechanical world. How can you do your part to help this component maintain its authority and keep your vehicle on the road?
How It Works
It pays to understand how the timing belt works, so you can focus your attention on its longevity. As you may know, energy is produced when fuel ignites within the combustion chamber and pushes each piston downwards. The piston will then turn the crankshaft and in combination, rotate the heavy flywheel. Of course, each piston has to move in sequence and at the right time and therefore, the explosions have to be carefully orchestrated. In order to achieve this, valves open and close in precise symmetry to allow air and fuel in and gases out, and all of this action is, in turn, controlled by a camshaft.
Bringing It All Together
Joining this all together and ensuring that it works with great precision is the timing belt. This is a very sturdy component made from high tensile cord and wear-resistant fabric and it has to be adjusted precisely so that it maintains the correct amount of tension. As the crankshaft turns a pulley on the front of the engine, the timing belt (which is coiled around the pulley) turns a secondary pulley, which is connected to the camshaft.
The Pressure Is On
When the engine fires, the entire sequence takes place within a microsecond and has to be repeated with a similar amount of precision under a great deal of stress. The timing belt is very well made to cope with these extremes, but it will not last forever and will eventually have to be changed. If it were to fail when the engine was under maximum pressure, then it doesn't take a fertile imagination to predict what may happen. You don't want to be dealing with a full engine rebuild and should ensure that you change your timing belt whenever recommended.
Taking a Peek
Take a quick look now to see if you can notice any problems. Open the bonnet and look towards the front of the engine and you will immediately identify the timing belt. If you can see any evidence of wear and tear, then take your vehicle into a mechanic before you do anything else.