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.