What is a Timing Belt

Written by Lee Wyatt (last updated March 29, 2012)

Have you ever noticed just how many different types of belts there are in an engine? While these belts may not look like they do all that much, they can often play such a huge role that if they run into some kind of problem it can easily affect the operation of the entire car. Of all the different belts in the engine, perhaps the single most important one is the timing belt. You may be asking yourself what is a timing belt, and why is it so important? Well the answers to these, and some other important questions can be found below.

  • What is it? Simply put, a timing belt is exactly that...a belt that is responsible for the timing of an engine. In more detailed verbiage, a timing belt is what keeps everything in your engine running in synch. The reason for this is that it creates a connection between the camshaft and the crankshaft. In the engine the camshaft is what opens and closes the engines valves, which allows air and fuel to go in and out of the engine; the crankshaft is what converts the energy from the pistons into energy that turns the wheels of the car. The timing belt is what synchs these two important things together, and allows it to work in harmony.
  • What is it made from? Timing belts are made of a nonflammable, synthetic rubber that is reinforced with some fiber corded through it. The belt usually has some notches on it to help catch on the teeth of the wheels that turn it.
  • Where is it located? To identify where your timing belt is, you will first need to open the hood of your car. Considering how the engine of most cars is similar, though still different, it shouldn't surprise you that you will need to learn how to identify a timing belt by sight, rather than by location. Typically a timing belt will be the longest of all the belts, and is usually laid out in a serpentine pattern that goes from the top of the engine towards the bottom. Again, most timing belts are located at or near the front of your engine.
  • Why is it so important? In the simplest possible terms, if your timing belt doesn't work then your car isn't going anywhere. Frankly, you can have everything else in your car working exactly like it should, but if the timing belt isn't working properly (or isn't there) then your vehicle is nothing more than an oversized paperweight or lawn ornament.

Author Bio

Lee Wyatt

Contributor of numerous Tips.Net articles, Lee Wyatt is quickly becoming a regular "Jack of all trades." He is currently an independent contractor specializing in writing and editing. Contact him today for all of your writing and editing needs! Click here to contact. ...


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