It depends on what type of engine you have in your vehicle. In an interference engine the damage could be extremely serious: the valves will fall down into the path of the pistons. On a non interference engine the vehicle will stop running. Now this can be extremely dangerous depending where you are when this happens, but there is usually no internal damage. (See the pictures below from a Kia which experienced a timing belt failure shortly after the recommended service interval mileage for replacement.)
Professional Auto Care
Damaged timing components cause the timing belt to slap. You will see the belt doing a slapping/jumping motion.
We partially removed the timing belt cover to perform a visual inspection of the components causing an awful noise. You can actually see the timing belt slapping. This was from a 2008 Acura TL with 135,000 miles. The regular service interval per Acura is every 60,000 miles. This belt is due for its second replacement. Belt manufactures recommend for the timing belt to replaced every 7 years regardless of mileage (this concept is familiar as tires are recommended to be changed according to age in spite of however much tread they have).
A standard timing belt replacement alone can range anywhere to a few hundred dollars to well over a thousand.It depends on amount of labor to remove your particular belt and the configuration of your motor and also whether or not additional hardware parts recommended per manufacture and auto repair shop are being replaced at the same time or not. Studies have shown by failing to replace additional hardware parts, the new timing belt life is cut in half. If those recommended-to-replace components fail in the future, they will require lots of labor to replace, which can cost quite a bit. If you have plans to keep the vehicle for a few more years, it is highly recommended to replace all related components in the same area. (Visit the "What are Timing Belt "Hardware Parts" page for more information)
Replacing the timing belt can be costly and by no means a simple maintenance procedure. You will be without your vehicle anywhere between half a day and a full day. Because there are so many different makes and models which are equipped with timing belts, it is difficult to say exactly or roughly how much one will cost you. It is typically a very labor intensive job. However, replacing your timing belt is MUCH CHEAPER than the repair costs caused by a failure.
To receive a quote to replace your vehicle's timing belt simply compete our Estimate Request Form.
Very rarely are there warning signs or noises indicating your timing belt or a timing belt related component is going out. Even if the belt slips one notch, it can cause as much damage as if it had simply snapped. In some cases a cover can be removed so a technician can visually inspect the belt. (See video further down this page where the top timing cover has been removed for a visual inspection of a defective timing belt).
The best thing to do is to check your owner's manual or call to speak with an ASE Certified Service Consultant to go over your options. If you do hear a slapping noise coming from your engine it is best to have it immediately examined by an automotive service professional.
Professional Auto Care is an award-winning family owned and operated auto repair shop located in southwest Houston. It has been run by the same family, the Serratos Family, for nearly 35 years. Professional Auto Care services Domestic, Asian as well as select European vehicles. We are known for our professionalism, transparency and quality of work. Since our humble beginning in 1983, we always strove to provide the best, most reliable service in Houston with a hint of the personal touch. The founders, Everardo and Claudia Serratos, are still involved with the daily operations of the car maintenance and auto repair shop.