Car Mechanics (UK) - - Instant Expert -

Re­plac­ing a tim­ing belt for the first time, or on an un­fa­mil­iar en­gine, can be daunt­ing. The key is re­search. Find out if there is suf­fi­cient space for you to un­der­take the op­er­a­tion at home with­out a four-post ramp. While some cars are straight­for­ward, oth­ers might re­quire sig­nif­i­cant dis­man­tling be­fore the belt can be ac­cessed.

Also es­tab­lish if any spe­cial tools are re­quired to lock the camshaft or crank­shaft, or to ten­sion the new belt, be­fore you start dis­man­tling. In some cases, you can im­pro­vise, such as sub­sti­tut­ing the cor­rect-di­am­e­ter bolt to lock the crank­shaft, for ex­am­ple, but this is not al­ways pos­si­ble, es­pe­cially on newer cars. Buy­ing the cor­rect tools is an in­vest­ment and their cost is a small price to pay con­sid­er­ing the labour charges saved by do­ing the job your­self.

As labour tends to be the largest cost of a pro­fes­sional tim­ing belt change, it is not worth cut­ting cor­ners on parts. In­sist on brand-new, orig­i­nal equip­ment (OE) qual­ity parts from proven sup­pli­ers, such as GSF Car Parts, and not a cheap on­line pur­chase that might have been sit­ting on a damp garage shelf for five years. As it is al­most im­pos­si­ble to as­sess the con­di­tion of a tim­ing belt ac­cu­rately by sight, it is not worth the risk.

Never for­get the im­por­tance of torque wrench set­tings for all bolts that se­cure pul­leys, ten­sion­ers and idlers to the en­gine. Should any bolt loosen, cat­a­strophic en­gine dam­age is likely to re­sult.

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