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What is a cambelt?

A cambelt (also known as timing belt) is a crucial part of your car's engine. It’s a rubber belt with teeth on it which keeps the crank and camshaft timed properly and ensures that the two halves of the engine are synchronised. It ensures that the engine’s valves open and close at the correct times during the cylinder intake and exhaust strokes. It’s extremely important that these valves open in time, so they don’t hit the engine’s pistons (which would severely damage the internals of the engine).

How long does a cambelt last?

Cambelts should be replaced at certain mileage or time intervals. This could be anything from 40,000 miles up to 100,000 miles or 5 years; your car’s manual should specify the recommended change frequency for your specific vehicle. We strongly advise that you adhere to this guidance, which varies from car to car. If you've purchased a second-hand car and are unsure about when the cambelt was last changed, don't delay - have a garage check its condition. On the BookMyGarage service schedule, which is followed by all garages booked through BookMyGarage, the cambelt is examined on the Full and Major service intervals.

What are the possible signs that a car needs a new cambelt?

Unfortunately there aren't any particular warning signs that a cambelt needs replacing; they can wear out over time or they can suddenly fail. However, if you do hear any strange noises from your engine, don't run the risk; use Book My Garage to find a reputable, trusted garage near you to check it out.

Some signs to look out for:

  • Your engine stops suddenly, and the engine will not turn over on the key.
  • Your car will not start, accompanied by a clunking noise from inside the engine.

What's involved with cambelt repair?

It is usually a straightforward job to replace a cambelt / timing belt, but it can be quite labour intensive, and you may find you need to have your water pump replaced at the same time. Furthermore, if your cambelt does break, it can cause major damage to other parts of your engine.

What causes cambelt problems?

There are many different reasons as to why a cambelt may fail. It’s important to have your cambelt examined for the following things:

  • Misalignment. This is one of the main causes of a cambelt failure. This can be caused by uneven or excessive tooth wear.
  • Under-tensioned belt. This can cause uneven tooth wear and excessive drive noise. A tension gauge can be used to set the correct tension on the timing belts.
  • Damaged belt. This will cause wear and/or damage of the belt and significantly reduce belt life. Have the belt inspected and replaced if it shows any signs of wear or damage.
  • Debris. This is often overlooked, but debris can cause many different problems. Dirt can rub on the belt and oil can attack the belt materials.

Can you drive your car with a snapped cambelt?

You will not be able to drive your car with a snapped cambelt. It is therefore very important to have your cambelt checked annually at the very least, as if your cambelt snaps it can cause serious irreversible damage to your car’s engine. You will need to have it fixed by a mechanic before driving the car again.

In most instances, drivers will have no warning that the belt is going to snap. When it does it happens suddenly, often resulting in an instant loss of power, as if you have run out of fuel, regardless of how fast or slow you are driving.

Although it can seem expensive to replace a cambelt, it will be a lot cheaper than trying to resolve any engine issues caused by a snapped cambelt.

How long does a cambelt replacement take?

It’s often a big job as it can involve taking part of the engine apart and putting it back together, so replacing a cambelt can take a few hours.

How much does a cambelt replacement cost?

The cost of a cambelt replacement can vary between £200 and over £1,000. It all depends on the make of your vehicle and the garage that you choose to do the work.

We strongly recommend booking your car in for a service at least once a year to ensure that your cambelt is checked annually (amongst many other crucial components of your car). As mentioned above, all of the servicing bookings made through BookMyGarage will follow our industry approved service schedules. You’ll see that cambelt checks are included in Full and Major services. Enter your car registration number and post code into our comparison tool and instantly compare prices from the garages in your local area. You’ll also be able to see their reviews, location, availability and other serviced offered. When you have selected a suitable garage, choose a day and book your service online. If your cambelt has snapped, select ‘A car problem or repair’ from the list and you can choose a garage to replace your cambelt, based on their hourly labour rates.

How can you save money (and the environment) while you drive?

As every garage owner will tell you, there are some tried and tested ways to cut down on your petrol costs (and consumption) while you’re out and about in Enfield or beyond. One is to shut your windows. If you can hear that wind noise in your car it’s costing you more to drive. This is because the car becomes less aerodynamic and has to work harder to motor along. Removing a roof rack will improve your fuel efficiency for the same reason. Another useful tip is to combine short trips into one; each time you drive after your car has been parked for a while the engine will be cold and need to use a lot more fuel for the first 5 miles or so. If you do one trip from school drop-off to supermarket to office you’ll use far less fuel than if you do all those trips individually.

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