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Timing Belt Issues And Repairs on A Toyota Tacoma in Denver

Hi there. I’m Saul Reisman here at Saul’s Autotek in Greenwood Village. And today, we’re underneath the hood of this Toyota Tacoma.

This vehicle has hundreds of thousands of miles. It’s been on the road for 20-plus years and it’s still in fantastic shape, and it’s worth keeping it running and keeping it on the road.

Now, the reason that we’re here today is we’re replacing the timing belt and water pump component kit in the vehicle. Now, a timing belt is a regular maintenance service in most modern vehicles and it’s something that is typically replaced every 70 to a hundred thousand miles depending on the service interval from the manufacturer. In the case of this vehicle, it’s actually been about 120,000 miles. So, we’re a little bit beyond that service interval. However, we want to make sure it gets the proper care and maintenance that’s going to keep it alive for a long time.

Now, many of you own vehicles that have a timing belt that needs regular service. Unfortunately, many owners never replace the timing belt in their vehicle and drive it until the timing belt fails, resulting in catastrophic engine failure. This is not something you ever want to be up against. If it is, you’re looking at cost of engine replacement or replacing the vehicle. Now, we know timing belt replacements are a very cost-prohibitive repair. They can typically be $1,000 service or more. However, we want you to understand the technical expertise required on this job. So let’s take a quick look.

Now, if we look in the vehicle, we can actually see that where the belt rides on the pulleys, it has to specifically engage at individual marks. Now, the technician that’s working on this vehicle has these marked at the top dead-center indicators. There are paint marks to indicate that it’s been through service before, and the new belt that we’ll be installing has corresponding marks so that we can line it up. Now, we’ve got it lined up on the top camshaft pulleys, and he’s just getting started. We can see this one’s off by one tooth because we’re just getting the belt laid onto the vehicle so that we can get it installed and tensioned properly.

Now, if we take a look at the actual diagram that tells us where these marks layout, it’ll also tell us how many teeth are between each of the marks, how long the gap should be accordingly, how much time it should take to install them, and how much play we should have in the belt afterward. Now, the reason this is so important is that if that belt is not 100% perfectly clocked in rotation, inside your engine where valves are moving up and down, they can strike the piston or strike each other and cause irreparable damage inside that motor. So, if you’re thinking that you don’t need to change your timing belt because “It ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” you might be risking the damage that could cost $5,000 or more. Additionally, if you’re thinking that this might be a maintenance service that you want to bite off and take care of yourself at home in the driveway, while you might be able to take care of your oil changes, your air filters, and your basic odds and ends, this is a job that needs to be done by a skilled technician.

If one gear is off by one tooth, the engine could be destroyed. This is not something that could be taken lightly and it’s something that an ASC technician should be servicing on your motor vehicle. So, if you’ve to a vehicle that needs the timing belt serviced or you’re not sure if it was ever performed in your vehicle, maybe you just bought a used vehicle and there’s no service record to tell you if it’s been done, you’re literally driving on borrowed time.

Come see us at Autotek and we’d be happy to check the condition of your timing belt.

We don’t charge any inspection or diagnostic fee, and we can put a scope camera inside that housing to find out how long it’s been, what the condition is, and make sure that you’re prepared for the appropriate repairs. Come and see us seven days a week here at Saul’s Autotek.

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About the Author

Saul Reisman

Saul Reisman

Saul Reisman has been helping the residents of the Centennial State with their automotive needs for over ten years now. He finished his Associate Degree in Physics at the Community College of Denver. Saul is an active member of the Specialty Equipment Market Association and a board member of the Young Executives Network. He undergoes constant educational training through GMC, MOPAR, Ford, Snap-On, Borg-Warner, and Ozark Automotive, with an emphasis on diagnosis, repair, and improvement.

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