Home » If Your Car Has A Timing Belt, It’s Not Really ‘Reliable’

If Your Car Has A Timing Belt, It’s Not Really ‘Reliable’

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The legendary Toyota Land Cruiser, the unstoppable XV20 Toyota Camry, generations of Honda Accords, the smooth and trusty Lexus LS — these are often mistakenly considered some of the most reliable cars of all time. I say “mistakenly,” because all of these vehicles are expected to grenade themselves after ~100,000 miles unless you tear their engine apart and spend four figures on a major repair job. That major repair job is replacing a timing belt, a part whose presence — in my opinion — disqualifies any vehicle from being considered truly “reliable.” Here’s why.

I realize this is a smoking hot take that might send Land Cruiser and Honda fans fuming, but it’s actually quite straightforward; it’s time for those of us hypnotized by factory maintenance guidelines to snap out of it. A timing belt does not fall under “regular maintenance” any more than a head gasket swap does (on a pushrod motor). It’s a major job, it’s not cheap, and it should be considered a substantial repair. Because the manufacturer decided to include an unnecessary consumable in the bowels of the engine, a 100 Series Land Cruiser or Camry or Accord has to go into the shop for a $1,300 repair after only seven years on the road; nothing about that is “reliable” (unless we take the word literally — in which case you can reliably expect to lose lots of money every 100,000 or so miles).

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Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s take a step back and talk about what prompted an even spicier edition of David’s Takes (my op-ed that runs every Sunday) than last week’s “It’s Time To Stop Hating On Fancy Pickup Trucks.” A few years ago, I was the proud owner of a 2001 Lexus LX470 — the Lexus version of the 100 Series Toyota Land Cruiser. The vehicle is, almost universally, considered to be one of the most reliable SUVs of all time. You’ll see it on safaris in Africa, on 15,000-mile overlanding trips through South America, and bouncing all over the Pacific Northwest and on Rocky Mountain trails; the 100 Series Land Cruiser is rough-and-tumble, and the vast majority of its reputation has been built on its longevity.

The Unstoppable Land Cruiser Is Stoppable. Every 90,000 Miles

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My 2001 (shown above) had 265,000 miles on it and ran beautifully. It towed my Jeep Forward Control across the country while keeping the Lexus’ cabin almost perfectly silent; the LX was really a no-bullshit SUV for me, and I enjoyed driving it.

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But as I wrote more and more stories about my adventures in that vehicle and read comments from Toyota fans stating how unstoppable that 4.7-liter V8 is, I decided to do a bit more research into the smoothest V8 engine I’d ever heard, and that’s when I spotted this in the Scheduled Maintenance Guide:

Replace Belt Schedule

 

This changed my whole perception of the motor.

This engine, known to be one of the most reliable of all time, has to have its timing belt changed every 90,000 miles. Since the average American drives around 13,000 miles per year, that means the belt has to be swapped every seven years. That’d be like buying a 2017 car today with 90,000 on it, and then the engine blowing up. Would anyone call that a reliable engine? No.

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But that’s what could happen if you forewent that timing belt job.

For those of you who don’t know, a timing belt is what connects the rotation of the crankshaft — which dictates the position of the pistons in their cylinders — to the camshafts, which dictate the positions of the intake/exhaust valves for each cylinder. It’s extremely important that the timing of the valves relative to each piston’s position in its stroke is precisely managed.

With a cylinder’s exhaust valves shut, the intake valves have to open as the piston goes down to suck in air; intake valves have to close as the piston moves back up to compress that air charge; both sets of valves have to remain shut as the piston is shot down during its combustion stroke; and then the exhaust valves have to open as the piston rises to expel its exhaust, ultimately out of the tailpipe.

If the valve timing — which is set by the timing belt spanning the sprockets at the ends of the crankshaft and camshafts — is altered, and, say, the intake valves are open when the piston rises up during its exhaust or compression stroke, the piston can hit the valves and destroy them. This could require a major engine repair. This happened to my colleague Jason.

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It’s Too Risky To Skip 90,000 Mile ‘Service.’ But It’s Not An Easy Job

Jason owns a VW Tiguan 2.0T; when the car was 10 years old with 120,000 miles on the clock, its engine blew up (the pistons hit the valves and bent them) because the timing chain failed (see video above). Google “VW Tiguan timing chain failures” and you’ll see that this is a rampant problem that has, in many people’s eyes, ruined the first-gen Tiguan’s reputation. Meanwhile, the Toyota Land Cruiser and my old 1995 Honda Accord and various Toyota Camrys behave in exactly the same way; after 10 years or 120,000 miles, their timing systems can fail (their belts snap), and the interference engines can grenade themselves. And yet, these vehicles have a great reputation while the Tiguan doesn’t. Why? Simply because Toyota/Honda writes in their manual that the timing belt is a maintenance item? So all VW had to do it write in its service manual: “Replace timing chain at 90,000” miles and the Tiguan’s rep would have been saved?

Does this mean that all GM had to put in the Saturn Vue’s service manual was “replace JATCO continuously variable transmission at 120,000 miles” and the car would have a sterling reputation? All Subaru had to write in its service manuals is “replace head gaskets at 90,000 miles” and it’d change the way people see Subarus?

On some level, the answer is “yes,” because knowing when things are about to fail is pretty darn valuable. These cars with timing belts tell you: “Your engine is about to fail. Take it in to have the engine serviced,” and that’s useful. Having a transmission or head gasket or timing chain fail suddenly and unpredictably makes driving a car miserable. I’m also being a little facetious, because swapping a transmission, timing chain, and even a head gasket is typically harder than changing a timing belt, but still! It’s not like changing a timing belt is easy; it’s a job! (One that I’ve done too many times).

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On the Land Cruiser — which is among the easier vehicles on which to swap out a timing chain, as it has a longitudinal engine layout —  you’ve got to drain the cooling system, remove the radiator, take apart the accessory drive, undo the crankshaft pulley (which usually requires a HUGE breaker bar), and on and on. Some novice wrenchers say the job takes them 10 hours, though some who have done it before seem to be able to do it in half that time. Either way, it’s rough.

‘You’ve Got To Be Kidding Me’

Check out the video above and listen to this quote by YouTuber “The Car Wizard.” In the background is a relatively new Honda that needs a timing belt. The Car Wizard discusses a typical interaction with an owner who has to have this “service” done:

“So [customers] call up and say ‘How much is it gonna cost to do my timing belt service?’ And I look it up and figure it all up and I say ‘It’s gonna be $1300.’ And I hear the phone hit the ground. And they pick it back up and they’re like: ‘You’ve got to be kidding me!'”

That owner’s response makes perfect sense. Here’s this car known for its reliability, and it has to have a $1,300 engine service done every seven years. Meanwhile, many cars with timing chains have to do nothing. Zero. Nada. Timing chains and their guides/tensioners — if properly designed (Jason’s Tiguan proved that not all of them are) — are meant to last the entire life of the vehicle. In the case of a pushrod engine, they pretty much never fail, and engines with timing gears? Even better.

Well-Designed Timing Chains Never Have To Be Replaced

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So coming back to my Land Cruiser — it has a great, buttery-smooth and torquey engine, and I love how it makes oil changes and other basic maintenance easy. But the reality is that, by the time I got rid of the vehicle, its engine was due for its third timing belt replacement. That’s three times $1,300 — almost $4,000 to do something that, in my view, you should never have to do in the first place.

Why would I ever consider an engine reliable when it needed $4,000 in repairs done to it to get to 270,000 miles? My Grand Cherokee above, which had similar mileage, almost certainly never needed a new timing chain. Granted, it wasn’t an overhead cam design (meaning the cam and crankshaft are quite close, so the chain is tiny), but the point is, if an engine requires a new timing belt every seven years, then I’m just never going to consider it reliable. I could have bought an entirely new engine for my Jeep and still come out ahead over the Land Cruiser 4.7-liter V8’s timing belt jobs.

In my view, a reliable engine is one that’ll do 250,000 miles with basic maintenance. A good example is the Mazda MZR 2.5, also called the Ford Duratec 2.5; it’s a four-cylinder with a timing chain, and because it’s so well designed, the engine requires only basic maintenance. Basic. That means oil changes, maybe some new things on the accessory drive like the alternator or water pump, some filters here and there, new plugs, maybe a few ignition coils, and that’s about it. These are all relatively cheap and easy things to swap. A timing belt is not.

Compare a Honda F22B, which requires a pricy timing belt swap every 7 years to a Mazda MZR 2.5, which requires oil and filter changes, and you’ll understand why I consider the latter the truly reliable motor.

To Be Sure…

To be sure, timing belts can last longer than 90,000 miles (though some are expected to be changed at 60,000 miles). Heck, some have had them last 150,000 miles or more. But the reality is that the risk of blowing up the engine is too high, and this leads most folks to follow roughly the recommended service schedule. It’s also worth noting that Toyota Land Cruisers are known to survive timing belt failures, so even if you were to try to stretch that change out to 150,000 miles, there’s a chance that if the belt snaps, the engine will be fine. (Still, in general, timing belt failures in interference engines can often lead to bent valves or damaged pistons; it’s not worth risking it).

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It’s also worth mentioning that, while The Car Wizard’s $1,300 quote does line up with typical timing belt jobs you see posted to the web (especially recently, as labor rates have skyrocketed in the past few years), historically it’s been possible to do a timing belt at an independent shop for $600 to $700.

It’s also worth mentioning that some timing belts are easier to change than others. But I’ve done the job a few times, and it’s never been remotely fun. It’s easier to swap a head gasket on my Jeep 4.0.

Anyway, there’s a reason why timing belts are pretty much gone from modern engines. Expecting such an intensive and expensive service every seven or so years is just ridiculous. The weight/noise/cost reduction just isn’t worth it. As you can see in this table, Toyota has moved on from the clearly inferior technology:

I try to avoid engines with timing belts. In my eyes, they’re just not worth the worry, especially if it’s not clear when the latest belt-change was done. This isn’t a concern for a well-designed timing-chain engine.

Image credits: Toyota, Genems Systems via YouTube screenshot

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Baron Usurper
Baron Usurper
2 months ago
Reply to  David Tracy

I’m loving these articles DT! (serious)

J Money
J Money
2 months ago
Reply to  David Tracy

It’s so weird how mad everyone gets (I know, this is the whole point of comments/replies on the internet) when they hear an opinion that is different from their own. And in this case, it’s backed up by facts….you can love your timing belt time bombs, people — but the fact remains that they’re time bombs.

Bjorn A. Payne Diaz
Bjorn A. Payne Diaz
2 months ago
Reply to  J Money

The problem is his opinion is in theory. Most of the replies, mine included, are in practice. In practice the opinion is chains suck because of poor implementation. He can certainly have it, but it’s kind of like saying I’d be cute if I wasn’t so fucking fat.

Bjorn A. Payne Diaz
Bjorn A. Payne Diaz
2 months ago
Reply to  David Tracy

I know. I shouldn’t have said it that way. Apologies. All else Chains are better than belts yes. Modern implementation of chains I don’t like as the OEMs are cheap and belts are cheap enough to make them good and chains are pricey and lead to cost cutting and failure.

That said, I find it interesting that although they don’t have nearly the market share as chains, belt driven bicycles are far more reliable even in single speed form than chain driven bicycles. Now, a difference is you need a special frame (or to cut yours!) to use a belt drive on a bicycle.

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
2 months ago
Reply to  David Tracy

David, I feel like it’s not really the issue of the points you make in the article, but more of the issue of using the word “unreliable” in comparison to timing belts, and then using images of a Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, and 100 series Land Cruiser/LX. Three vehicles known for their reliability, unless you skip the timing belt service interval, and/or cheap out on parts (i.e. not paying for a new tensioner(s)… that’s the owners, and maybe the technicians fault.

Doing a timing belt service isn’t fun, some are really easy (i.e. Ford Pinto Motors in Rangers) some look to be a fucking nightmare (Ferrari 360 Modena).

However, timing belt service IS part of routine maintenance. If you don’t want to buy a car with a timing belt, that’s understandable. But I feel like you should respect reliable cars that did use belts as, what they are…reliable cars. Much like the cheap Sienna you purchased that made it to >230k miles on a timing belt system, maybe it was even the original belt? Probably not though…

Side-note: go ahead and search the internet for what owners are saying about their timing chains (and associated hardware) needing replacement on Ford 3.5/3.7Ls (ecoboost or not), GM 3.6Ls, VW/Audi I4’s/V6’s/V8’s, various BMW motors, JLR V8/V6 post-2009, etc…

MOPAR switched from a belt drive SOHC to a chain drive DOHC arrangement going from the 3.2/3.5L to the 2.7L…. and we all know the 2.7L is garbage vs. it’s close relatives.

Why am I so adamant (borderline being a turd) about this issue? If you were a dealer tech (or independent) who got paid to work on enough OHC motors with timing chain issues, and stupid timing chain designs, I promise you, you would understand my position better.

I hope you feel that you aren’t being attacked, because that’s not cool. And at the end of the day, it’s all just opinions, and a matter of preference.

david kenney II
david kenney II
2 months ago

I agree with you and have done the chain replacements on some of these vehicles. unfortunately there may be an audi 4.2 chain service in my future, (customers car, not mine).

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
2 months ago

Yikes…sorry to hear that. Unless it pays good flat-rate and you’ve done it before so you know how to do it quicker?

Would you rather have to do the timing belt service on an older Audi 4.2 V8?

Col Lingus
Col Lingus
2 months ago
Reply to  David Tracy

Good story DT. Thanks. Learned my lesson about 35 years ago. No more timing bels ever. Never had a big issue, but I refuse to buy another car with a timing belt.
Thanks again.

MP81
MP81
2 months ago
Reply to  David Tracy

Tell that to Audi S4 owners with timing chains on the back of the engine, against the firewall that definitely requires service.

Ok_Im_here
Ok_Im_here
2 months ago
Reply to  David Tracy

As a Honda Odyssey owner, I’ve been waiting for someone to say this. I love this minivan, but this is the thing I literally have to bank money for. And I know a few people who have said “we had all kinds of serious engine problems with ours” and the first question out of my mouth is, “did you do the schedule timing belt and transmission fluid changes?” Honda’s are particularly finicky about both. I swear the only reason why the timing belt is there is because Honda makes money on it.

Anonymous Person
Anonymous Person
2 months ago
Reply to  David Tracy

We just bought the new 2024 Trax LS with the 1.2L Turbo 3-cyl. The owner’s manual says to change the timing belt and oil pump at 150,000 miles. Of course, you never have to touch the transmission fluid (6-speed auto) for the life of the car (transmission) unless it’s used in a “severe duty” application.
Our local stealership included the “Warranty Forever™ program in the MSRP of the vehicle. As long as I bring it to the stealership (or any certified service center if I call a toll-free number and let them know first) for all scheduled maintenance and promise to never personally do any oil changes or scheduled service on the vehicle, they will, in turn, cover the entire powertrain from the turbocharger all the way to the front wheel bearings for the life of the vehicle or until the cost of the repair exceeds the NADA book value of the vehicle.
I’m skeptical, but does this make it more “reliable”?

Rick Wurtz
Rick Wurtz
2 months ago

Counterpoint: I wanna call bullshit on this one. I love cheap no-maintenance drive-it-till-it-implodes shitboxes as much as anyone, but not every car has to be one, and not every affordable car has to be disposable. $1200 at a shop or 4 hours in the garage on a weekend is a reasonable price to pay for 100k of reliable service.

david kenney II
david kenney II
2 months ago
Reply to  David Tracy

Chains, for the most part do last longer, and I’m cheap as well. I still had to replace the stretched timing chain in a 2003 mini at 147000 miles. Its also why my everyday transportation. a 2006 Silverado 4.8. Simple chain system, one little gear driving one big gear with a chain.

The48thRonin
The48thRonin
2 months ago

I think this is a good lead up to another article: What actually makes a car reliable? Because you can throw an infinite amount of money at basically any vehicle and make it run well, and if you replace the parts before they’re known to fail (for example, rebuilding a rotary every 60k miles) you might never experience a failure on the road. But does that make the car reliable?

That guy
That guy
2 months ago

Been saying this since the mid 2000s. Sure, you could buy that Lexus V6, then have the timing belt, water pump, and cam seals (typically done together) all changed at 90k for often closer to $3k. OR, you could buy any of these ‘unreliable’ cars, and when stuff like… wait for it… the water pump break at 120k you’ll be out $600 plus a tow and still be ahead. Or learn about how long the water pump lasts and proactively change it at 100k (not many takers on that, but lots of complaints when it unexpectedly went). People who buy cars for reliability are seemingly much more likely than average to swallow high $$ maintenance bills.

Course, the latest trend is for timing chains with oil pump belts… and some manufacturers are saying the oil pump belt ‘never’ needs replaced. Or putting it on the back of a longitudinal motor. I’d take a timing belt for everything (on the front of the motor) all day over any of these. Least I know when it needs replaced and can get to it.

Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
2 months ago

Late to the party, I know, but timing chains good, timing belts bad.

My daily driver, a Renault 4 (271.000km), has a timing chain. The earliest examples of this car just now turned 62, the latest have been on the road for 3+ decades (mine’s a late one, turned 33 in January). Timing chain failure is unheard of in these cars, and people rebuilding engines that sat for long report simply cleaning the original chain and putting it back.

My wife’s daily driver, a 1998 VW Polo (200.000km), just died last week. Timing belt, of course. I knew it would die sooner or later as the time interval ended in 2022, and when I got quoted like 4x what the car was worth for the job, we came to terms with driving it to death. The belt went 20.000km before the distance interval, despite the car having been driven less than ever during this period.

In the meantime, we got ourselves a 360.000km 2006 Volvo V50 base model with the 1.6 HDi Ford/PSA engine – that’s a whole other story; feels like every sensor decided to fail the moment the title traded hands – and I was careful enough to look for one that had a new-ish timing belt (5000km, done last May). I’m looking at a €500+ “scheduled maintenance” bill every 5 years or 100.000km whichever comes first (some owners recommend 4 years/80.000km just to be sure).

Last edited 2 months ago by Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
Doug Kretzmann
Doug Kretzmann
2 months ago

thank you for the handy table – I too will never buy another car with a timing belt. My 1998 Sienna came to an end when I couldn’t bring myself to spend the $1500 for another belt at 300k, plus some other repairs I couldn’t do at home requiring special Toyota tools.
My wife’s MDX just got its second timing belt, only $1100 on special at the dealer. That’s the last belt it gets I think.

Of course it’s possible to build an engine using timing chains with similar issues. My Ford Cologne engine has 3 timing chains, Audi-levels of complexity, and each chain has plastic chain guides which will selfdestruct on their own schedule. Replacing the guides is an engine-out job, a rebuilt engine is about the same price.

DEcarTrouble
DEcarTrouble
2 months ago

Oddly enough I just had this conversation with someone Thursday before the article came out. I agree in part and disagree in part. For an interference engine a timing belt makes it unreliable. For non-interference engine that can survive being out of time (to certain extent), I would consider it reliable but expensive to maintain.

I own a BMW with over 280K and it drives like a dream, but vacuum lines, water pump, etc. makes it less reliable than say Camry or Land Cruiser noted above even with the timing chain.

El Barto
El Barto
2 months ago

The easiest timing belt replacement I’ve carried out was my old ’93 3rd-gen Maxima, with the VG30E engine. Take off the right-hand top engine mount and there is plenty of room to remove & replace the belt and water pump in around 4 hours.

However, like you, I prefer to buy cars with timing chains, which is why I’ve owned my 4th-gen Maxima the past 13 or so years.

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
2 months ago

400th comment!!

Wow…I don’t know who all to thank, but, here goes

All automotive engineers in charge of how to spin camshafts…

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
2 months ago

At this rate, maybe we can get it to 500 comments?

Turkina
Turkina
2 months ago

David Tracy: Replacing a timing belt every ~100k miles on a Toyota/Lexus means the truck is not reliable. Maintenance is expensive. Meh, I will sell it.

Also David Tracy: Look at the deal I got on this Nissan Leaf! Too bad the range has degraded to 25 miles after only 70k, buttttttt…

American Locomotive
American Locomotive
2 months ago

Timing belts rarely, if ever fail within the service interval. If specced for 90k, the belt is guarenteed to be fine out to at least 110-120k. That gives you a HUGE window ro schedule your downtime. Plus, timing belt jobs are cheap to do on your own. They are rarely overly difficult and can be done by a DIYer in less than a day. A B series Honda civic can be done in like 2 hours.

On the other hand, timing chain engines are proving to be basically universally troubled across almost all brands. Ford, GM, Chrysler, BMW, Honda, Nissan – even Toyota are having, or have had serious timing chain system issues. The parts are very expensive, and for many, the repair is an engine-out job. Like literally impossible to replace the chains with the engine in the vehicle.

You can argue a “well a properly designed chain” yadda yadda all you want – but you never know if a timing chain system was properly designed …until it fails. On the other hand, timing belts are predictable and reliable.

Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
2 months ago

The timing belt in my 98 Polo just went. I decided to forego maintenance and drive the car to death because when the belt reached the 6 years back in 2022 I was quoted many times what the car was worth – and apparently yes, a base model 98 Polo needs a new timing belt every 6 years or 100,000 km after swapping out the factory one at 150.000km. So, 2 years past the expiration date and 20.000km before the distance interval, it finally broke. And this is a car that drove less for the last 4 years than ever before – althought it still drove regularly, almost exclusively city driving – and all other maintenance was religiously done.

Not saying it’s the same with all timing belts, but don’t trust too much the idea that you can put off timing belt maintenance for thousands of miles past the recommended interval, as time is also a factor and your timing belt may go well before it even hits the distance interval.

Last edited 2 months ago by Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
Peter Foreman-Murray
Peter Foreman-Murray
2 months ago

I just don’t buy this take. A reliable car is one that doesn’t leave you stranded or have unexpected large expenses. Scheduled timing belt replacement doesn’t leave you stranded and isn’t an unexpected expense. Plan for it, drop it off at the dealer, get a loaner for the day. Do that two or three times for the life of the car. NBD.

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
2 months ago

This. It’s a part of routine maintenance you can be flexible about. Don’t put it off endlessly, just budget for it and find a time in your schedule that suits you.

I have an engine with a timing belt that’s supposed to be replaced every 60k miles, but the car is over 30 years old with 208k miles so I think it’s pretty good. And later the manufacturer changed the recommendation to every 100k miles but didn’t actually change the design… likely because they were told to, but still. Timing belts are overbuilt for the purpose of not letting you down if you can’t avoid putting off maintenance a bit.

Knowing my timing belt has at least 50k miles to go tells me I have 50k worry-free miles where nothing unexpected should happen. In other words, I can rely on it. Seems pretty reliable to me.

Autopizen
Autopizen
2 months ago

Bought a new Forester a while back, took it to my mechanic. He was so bummed to see it had a timing chain, an unexpected reaction I found amusing.

Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
Do You Have a Moment To Talk About Renaults?
2 months ago
Reply to  Autopizen

Bummed because he won’t be able to make timing belt money every few years?

EXL500
EXL500
2 months ago

Thanks for elevating my anxiety, but I’m happy to report my Fit has a chain. No, really, thank you.

Wezel Boy
Wezel Boy
2 months ago

I have a timing belt horror story.

I took my Subaru, which I bought brand new, to a mechanic to get the timing belt done. This mechanic had been around for a while, so I figured they could do it. They ended up having the car for like 4 weeks. When I called them up to ask about it, they said they were waiting for a special tool. That should have been a red flag right there, but I was preoccupied with other things to really give it much thought.

When I finally got the car, it ran like shit. I took it back and they had it for another few days, but when I finally got the car it ran fine.

A few years go by. The mechanic shop closed mysteriously. My son turned 16 and I gave him the Subaru. He hoons it for a while, replaces the clutch, hoons it a little more, and then is faced with a loss of power and a lot of oil leaking. He thinks it is an external head gasket leak.

So he pulls the engine and starts to remove the heads, but he can’t, because someone had already removed the heads and overtorqued everything putting it back together. One of the camshaft bolts is completely stripped.

Then I put two and two together. The reason why the mechanic had the car for so long was because they probably messed up the cam timing while replacing the timing belt and then destroyed the valves when they started it. Rather than tell me about it, they just replaced the valves.

Now my garage is filled with a torn down EJ205 (turns out the head gaskets were fine and the whole thing was a waste of time) and an Evora that needs a new clutch. Ugh.

Pappa P
Pappa P
2 months ago
Reply to  Wezel Boy

I wept when I read of your Evora woes.
I hate to see good people suffer, so I’ll trailer that thing out of your life for you.

Wezel Boy
Wezel Boy
2 months ago
Reply to  Pappa P

The only way I’d ever give up my Evora is for an Evora GT. She’ll be out for a couple months while I do the clutch (engine has to come out).

Pappa P
Pappa P
2 months ago
Reply to  Wezel Boy

Good on you, the backyard clutch swap will definitely save a few precious bucks to put towards that GT

Boxing Pistons
Boxing Pistons
2 months ago

I’d call engines with timing belts “high maintenance” not “unreliable”. Of course that would not be as provocative, but your point is well-taken. I think of my older stuff that requires frequent valve adjustments and such. I would never call my old BMW airhead unreliable because it needs more frequent adjustment to run correctly. I also wouldn’t call my Yamaha XS650 markedly less reliable than the bmw because it relies on a chain that needs periodic replacement instead of a drive shaft. Now, none of those maintenance items requires anywhere close to as much work as replacing a timing belt on a more modern car engine, but still. I guess if they had made them easier to change and/or at least used a non-interference design to go with the belt so it isn’t catastrophic when it goes, it wouldn’t be so bad.

Boxing Pistons
Boxing Pistons
2 months ago

You can keep your belts AND chains, thankyouverymuch! My 300 inline six’s gears are the best! Seriously, tho. This is something I try and avoid. Luckily my other vehicles – a 2006 TSX and 2017 Highlander are not reliant on timing belts either.

Gardenbolt
Gardenbolt
2 months ago

my two first gen ravs didn’t get the belts replaced until 200k. they never broke.
of course i always meant to get around to it. but since they were not Interference Engines. i wasn’t all that worried. both were $800 with new water pump.
Interference Engines is important.
had an old toyota truck with a chain break that cost me plenty.

Gardenbolt
Gardenbolt
2 months ago
Reply to  Gardenbolt

big lesson for me was to make sure to get the best oil pump gasket you can.
these will be guaranteed to leak if you don’t have the best.

Steven Moor
Steven Moor
2 months ago

Yeah, it was a bit of a surprise to me that cost – When I put my second hand CRV in for service at around 165k KM, stating that it seemed a bit clangy when cold started (I mean -10C or lower cold started,) they told me my “engine timing needed to be adjusted.”

That was expensive, but the powertrain honestly feels silky smooth now, so it was probably worth it.

Jalop Gold
Jalop Gold
2 months ago

2GR-FE is the best engine. Just mount it longitudinal and attach it to a T5…..

Pappa P
Pappa P
2 months ago
Reply to  Jalop Gold

Seriously the best.

Rapgomi
Rapgomi
2 months ago

I prefer a low maintenance double chain, but can go either way. And many cars need their timing chain tensioners changed out at 100k or so anyway.

How hard it is to access the belt or chain is a far far more important issue!

MP81
MP81
2 months ago

Failure due to lack of maintenance != unreliable

Cerberus
Cerberus
2 months ago

No modern car should have t-belts. I wouldn’t buy one unless Subaru somehow reissued a FWD manual ’90 Legacy wagon without any of the safety mandates that came after. So, yeah, my beloved Legacy had a t-belt, but that was 34 years ago (and a big improvement over the EA82’s twin belts), a non-interference engine, was a couple of hours DIY with a $20 tool I made to lock the cams, and dealers often ran specials in the early ’00s for $260 to perform the job with, IIRC, $400 being normal, though I always did it myself, plus the water pump and tensioner every other change (60k belt schedule).

While I understand the point you’re making, I don’t think unreliable is the right word when it’s an item that is scheduled. Now, if they routinely broke before the scheduled mileage, then I’d agree, but reliability to me means that there aren’t unexpected failures to perform.

Rod Millington
Rod Millington
2 months ago

Laughs in Audi 4.2L V8.

67 Oldsmobile
67 Oldsmobile
2 months ago

I won’t bother to read all the comments, but a few of them probably mentioned this already: While I get your point I think the premise of this take is wrong. Yes,a well designed timing-chain engine can be more reliable than an timing-belt equipped one,but I will argue that is only the case if you don’t follow the replacement intervals of the belt. This is about as hot a take as saying a automatic transmission is more reliable than a manual transmission because you have to replace the clutch assembly on a manual.

Micah Cameron
Micah Cameron
2 months ago
Reply to  67 Oldsmobile

Now that is a good example. Most manuals need a new clutch around 100k. Do we say that no manual is reliable because they will all need an expensive, transmission-out service every so many miles?

Cerberus
Cerberus
2 months ago
Reply to  Micah Cameron

Clutches have always been good for over 200k for me even with Boston traffic, which outlasts most automatic lifespans, but I otherwise agree.

Jalop Gold
Jalop Gold
2 months ago
Reply to  Cerberus

BMW inline 6 clutch good for over 200K miles easy. GM small 4 pot, 150K max in my experience (although sometimes it’s the slave cylinder… right David?)

Micah Cameron
Micah Cameron
2 months ago
Reply to  Jalop Gold

Lol this is very true about BMWs. I have two. My E83 has 210k and only needs a new clutch because the DMF is disintegrating. My E46 got a new clutch replaced under warranty 190k ago and it’s still totally fine. How long a clutch lasts has so much to do with driving style however so it’s a difficult lifespan to estimate.

Micah Cameron
Micah Cameron
2 months ago
Reply to  Cerberus

Yes, I’ve had several cars with clutches that lasted over 200k. It does depend a lot on the type of car (Countaches need a new clutch like every 30k max) and, of course, driving style.

Crank Shaft
Crank Shaft
2 months ago

NVH and Group Think were the problem. Timing chains were/are noisy compared to belts and so the manufacturers settled upon belts. No one wanted their engine to be course sounding compared to the other brands and so most chose belts. It was a mistake to be sure, which they later corrected, but that’s the simple why of it.

I prefer chains as well.

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