- Do It Yourself Auto Repair
What happens When Your Car's Timing Belt Breaks?
It depends. Some cars like Subaru, have non-interference engines, which mean, if the timing belt breaks while you are driving, there is no damage to the internal parts of the engine. Other cars, do not have this sort of engine and damage results.
According to mechanics, the moment of the timing belt braking results in the all the damage that will occur to the engine and any additional trying to start it will not create further damage.
The timing belt is critical for all the internal parts to be in synch and if the timing is off, you will surely know it by how it runs. Most timing belts need to changed between 80-100K and the cost to do it varies but always expect several hundred. The parts themselves are maybe $50. Doing it yourself is possible but only if you know what you are doing, it only takes one bad move.
When my timing belt broke while on the highway at 60 mph, it was just an instant loss of power but no warnings, no noise, no warning lights on the dash (2006 VW TDI). When this occurs, it can be a harrowing event depending of when it occurs and what is around. I lost it going uphill and I was in middle lane, I tried to not to panic as I glided to the far right, nearly having two accidents because of other drivers. Once pulled over, even then it can be bad. I was in a precarious spot and my rear was still protruding out. It was drivers in other cars racing up that made be evacuate the car fearing a rear ender, which narrowly missed when a van swerved and fought to regain control. Having the emergency lights flashers did not seem to improve the situation. My guess was that a fuel pump was out, which is why it wouldn't start and why I lost power-so I thought. They go out with no warning or noise also!
That is not the end of it. Even though I have AAA premium towing, it took them one hour to get there (7 miles from SF). Upon arrival, the driver told us that he could only take two of the four passengers! This was because of seat belts and liability. Well, how about telling us 60 minutes ago so arrangements could be made? I mean, after all, our home was 70 miles away! I might have as well been in the middle of nowhere.
In my case, the $40 belt part broke, left me stranded, caused a chain reaction of issues, and will cost me at minimum $2000 for damage like bent valves. If the damage is more serious, we are talking of a rebuilt engine around $3400 minus labor.
The worse part for everyone is that there is absolutely no warning, no sound. The only guide is your mileage since the last time it was changed. Some belts actually can go to 110K, others fail at 25K.Go figure.
They say there is a first time for everything. This is my first time-ever. I hope it is my last.