General Question

evsma77's avatar

Why is changing a timing belt such an expensive repair?

Asked by evsma77 (55points) April 22nd, 2009

my water pump went..which isnt such a big deal..but to get to it they need to remove the timing belt..and refuse to do that without also replacing the timing belt..bringing the bill to close to $700.00!! I just don’t get it.

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11 Answers

avalmez's avatar

back in the day it was due mostly to the amount of labor required as opposed to cost of the parts. times may have changed though

Russell_D_SpacePoet's avatar

It is in your best interest to do the timing belt if it has to come off anyway. Most timing belts are recommended to be changed between 70 and 100 thousand miles. Depending on the brand of car, it could have an interference motor. Which means the valves could be bent if the timing belt breaks while the engine is running. Besides that, shops are expensive.

cwilbur's avatar

Labor. Timing belts can require that several other belts be taken off, and then tightening them and tuning things properly. It can take several hours.

westy81585's avatar

Typically to change a timing belt you need to remove other belts, as well as parts of your engine. It’s arguably the MOST labor intensive maintenance that your car will ever need. If it’s done even SLIGHTLY wrong, your car will not function properly, and it can take a lot of trial and error to get it to the right spot.

Why they refuse to replace the water pump without replacing the timing belt is a mystery to me though. I mean if your belt is getting old you’d be kind of dumb not too, but it’s your call really. They’d probably be better off to fix the pump, leave the belt old, and wait for you to come back when it went out.

BookReader's avatar

…all things considered, a good mechanic can be hard to find and the work is not always that easy… if the engine is in close quarters, it can make it really tough to get to parts- sometimes, lifting an engine out just to get started may be required… aside from that, the price sounds high to me- i’ve replaced both as a DIY at cost of parts…

avalmez's avatar

and reading your question more carefully, it does seem to make sense to replace the timing belt if you’re going to incur most of the labor just to replace the water pump anyways. some surgeons will remove your appendix if they are having to go into your thoracic cavity for some other reason because they’re there anyways, might as well avoid having to go in later due to a bad appendix.

evsma77's avatar

its very close quarters..probably about as close as it gets..its a geo metro. Yes repairing the pump would work for the short term..though I dont know if they can..they say its a hole in it. So if anyone in in the south jersey area and would like to work for me for say 10–20 an hour let me know lol.

ragingloli's avatar

i heard, in case of porsche, that the positions of the all the parts of the engine must be perfectly aligned when you put on the new belt, or it would fuck up the engine.

westy81585's avatar

@evsma77 I had a geo-metro in high school and the timing belt went out at 80k. We tried to change it ourselves (my family is VERY automotively inclined, I have uncles that have had a hand in building virtually every American car of the last 20 years, etc, etc). It was a GIANT headache. We spent an entire weekend trying to get that damn thing to line up right and we still couldn’t get it (For some comparison, we’ve taken the ENTIRE ENGINE out of other cars and fixed something and put it back in a weekend before). We ended up having the dealer do it (and I still don’t think they did it right, it never ran quite right after that). I would STRONGLY suggest getting it changed.

BUT, their price seems a bit steep. I think we paid somewhere around like $300. Could be because of the waterpump too and the change in times (that was some 6 years ago). But shop around.

westy81585's avatar

I feel the need to explain what the timing belt does. Your cars engine has two shafts in it. The Cam shaft, and the crank shaft. The cam shaft is on the top of the engine and has grooves and bumps on it. As it rotates, those grooves and bumps open and close the valves to your cars piston chambers allowing in/out air/spent fuel-air. The crank shaft is at the bottom of the engine and is connected (via rods) to all of the actual pistons themselves. As the pistons are forced down and into a cycle by the combustion in the piston chamber, they rotate this shaft, which in turn powers your car to move.

The TIMING BELT connects these two just outside of the engine. They need to be PERFECTLY lined up so that when your crank shaft has one piston pulled all the way down, your cam shaft is allowing air into the chamber AND so that when the piston is pushed up the chamber is sealed AND finally so that when the piston is beginning to go down the right valves open to let the spent fuel-air out. The timing belt is what lines these up to happen at the right times. Hence the name “timing” belt. IF your belt is off in timing, you will SEVERELY damage your car (if it will run at all).

AtSeDaEsEpPoAoSnA's avatar

I am a mechanic, the serpentine is what they will be taking off to get the water pump out, not the timing chain (or belt depending on the car). The chain times the pinion, rods, and heads in a particular order. The serpentine belt, or accessory belt, operates water pumps, A/C compressor, power steering pump, harmonic balancer, and puller/tensioner. Depending on your vehicle, whether you went to the dealer (“sounds” like a dealership price), or a mechanic shop will make all the difference in price. Water pump will range and so will the labor. I say look around, if the price is around the same everywhere, you have a difficult car. If it drops quiet a bit, then is is the shop. Unless it is complicated work, like engine rebuilding or transmission work, don’t go to the dealership. It is there job to make you pay as much as you can.

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