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Dear Driver: Should I worry about my car's timing belt?

Got a motoring question or looking for some advice? We’re here to help.

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Got a question? Need advice? Submit your queries to melanie@thejournal.ie.

THIS WEEK, A reader asks:

When should I change my car’s timing belt?

The answer:

Timing belt replacement intervals can vary hugely – from 96,500km (60,000 miles) up to 170,500 (106,000 miles). Your car’s manual should say when the belt should be replaced – but they can break and need replacing before the recommended interval.

A mechanic can check the condition of your car’s belt to see if it needs replacing sooner rather than later. Noel Geraghty of NDG Motors in Rathfarnham Village tells us this:

“The intervals vary greatly from one engine to another. There is a mileage indicator – for example ‘replace at 100,000km’ – and a time interval too, like ‘replace every eight years’.

“However, this also depends on variables like the climate and conditions your car faces, how long the engine runs in traffic etc. Although the car may not be eight years old and may not have done 100,000km, the engine is still working hard so it may have done eight years of work in just six years, for example.

Why should it be checked?

“If the timing belt breaks on an interference engine you can do an awful lot of damage,” Noel says. “It could even mean game over for the engine. Sometimes you might not notice if the timing belt breaks so it is best to bring the car in before the recommended intervals and get it checked out.”

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How long does it take to replace?

Says Noel:

About 90% of timing belts can be replaced in a day, but some larger SUVs may need a bit longer.

How much does it cost to replace?

Timing belts are one of the more expensive items to replace. On average you are looking at around €500 – but again this depends on the engine.

Have you got a Dear Driver question? If so, email melanie@thejournal.ie and we’ll do our best to answer it!

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About the author:

Melanie May  / https://www.melaniemay.com

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