Will Changing the Timing Belt Improve Performance?

Will Changing the Timing Belt Improve Performance? | Swedish Solution in Cleveland Heights, OH. Closeup image of timing belt with rollers installed on a car engine.

Will Changing the Timing Belt Improve Performance?

The timing belt is an integral part of what makes the engine run. The belt connects the crank pulley to the camshafts. As the crank turns, so do the camshafts—or one camshaft if you have a single-overhead cam four-cylinder.

Before installing a timing belt, the auto technician must ensure the vehicle is timed correctly. If it is not, the pistons could hit the valves and damage the engine. Heights Swedish Solutions in Cleveland Heights, OH recommend changing the timing belt about 1,000 to 2,000 miles before the manufacturer’s recommended mileage duration.

Timing Belts and Interference Engines

A crankshaft converts the linear motion of pistons into a rotating motion. A camshaft controls the opening and closing of valves. These two components must be synchronized so that a valve fully opens when a piston is not in the top position. A timing chain or timing belt synchronizes these two components.

If there’s a gap between a fully open valve and the piston in the top position, the vehicle has a non-interference engine. If none, it’s an interference engine. Many Subaru, Volvo, VW, Audi, SAAB, BMW, Mercedes, and Porsche models in Cleveland Heights, OH have interference engines.

Knowing this engine type is important when it comes to the timing belt.

  • For non-interference engines, you rarely see engine damage if a timing belt stretches too far or breaks.
  • For interference engines, you must stay on top of the timing belt and ensure it’s changed when the manufacturer recommends. Should the belt stretch too much or break, the valves will try to occupy the same space as the pistons. You could bend a valve or, worse, damage a piston.

Timing Belt and Engine Performance

As an interference engine cannot be out of time, there won’t be an increase or decrease in performance due to the belt’s age.

The timing belt is routed around a tensioner. This keeps the belt tight enough around the pulleys so that it doesn’t slide or come off the teeth of the camshaft pulleys. But if the belt stretches longer than the tensioner can accommodate, the belt could come off. If the belt breaks, it often does more damage.

This stretched timing belt does not affect performance because of the intolerance (no gap). The interference engine just quits. However, a vehicle with a single overhead cam can just have a stretched belt and no damage to the engine.

If the belt is not stretched enough to pull the timing so far out that the engine stops, you’ll most likely notice a decrease in horsepower. In this case, changing the timing belt does improve performance.

Watch Out for Timing Belt Symptoms in Cleveland Heights, OH

A timing belt past its useful life can cause a noticeable drop in vehicle power. If the timing belt is far enough off, the service engine soon light may come on, showing various codes to do with the timing. If you have an interference engine and notice these warning signs, we suggest you stop immediately and not restart it.

If the timing belt breaks or skips one or more teeth, the engine might not start. If it’s an interference engine, we do not recommend trying to start it.

If you need a new timing belt for your vehicle, contact Heights Swedish Solutions in Cleveland Heights, OH for an appointment. We are conveniently located at 1815 Taylor Rd., Cleveland Heights, OH 44118. You can reach us by calling (216) 371-5100.