Thursday, April 24, 2008

Timing Belt: The Traitor Car Engine Part

Travel is my favourite option but was ruined by vehicle mechanical trouble. I was confidently driving my 2000 model Toyota Corolla XE car enroute to Tagaytay via Sta. Rosa-Silang Highway, the other day, unmindful that the “timing belt” will give way...ang malas!


Going to cool places is one superb way of escaping the summer-day heat. Temperature 36 degrees C drove me and my wife to roll uphill the Tagaytay scenery and wished to enjoy the cool ambience of the countryside... but-ta-ta`.


Midway of the uphill climb, the car engine suddenly conked-out. Quick look of the thermometer showed no overheating. So, I played the clutch and fuel accelerator pedals but still it didn’t worked. I moved the car cautiously off the road and turned-on the emergency light flashers. Ah!... Good that the safe place where the car stopped were shaded and cool. I pulled the hand-brake, opened the hood, and checked the following:


1) Cleaned the fuel filter by detaching it from the in-and-out fuel hose then shaking and blowing out the blocking dirt; 2) Checked the battery terminal whether loose or tightly in place; 3) Checked the spark-plug and the high tension wire connections; and 4) Opened the plastic cover of the timing belt to see if it is still intact.


Finding that all these parts were functioning, I started the engine. But still it did not operate. I implement the caution: Do not force engine start or jump start or calling standby to push start without checking. Serious engine damage will result with broken timing belt –I did not see the inner part of the belt when I opened the plastic cover before. Although I am a do-it-yourself mechanic, I preferred to find one with a shop. Luckily, our un-expecting host told us one. It was about two kilometres down slope of the highway.


So that was and after checking the engine, my contacted mechanic decided that we bring the car to his shop. We moved the car on a free-wheeling drive and reached the shop safely. Another caution: Free-wheeling drive should be performed by: switching the accessories on with the car key to prevent the hand wheel from locking; shift to the neutral or idle drive gear; use the hand brake to assist the foot brake (It is harder than usual when engine is running) particularly on stiff down slope; don’t move so fast; and switch the emergency flashers on and drive slowly and safely.


Thereafter, we found out that the timing belt had broken gear teeth below the crankshaft gear and caused sliding. Luckily again that engine valves were not affected –very often than not, when the timing belt of a gasoline feed 2E engine torn-off, engine valves will be damaged then pulling out and overhauling are the best remedy and it is very costly... arayyy...ouch! I bought a replacement parts and the car was fixed –replacement timing belt should not be relied upon, inspect every 20,000 kms. run (the recommended run for original belt is l20,000 kms.


Timing belt is not easily visible. It bears no symptom of being worn-out. It is a traitor hidden behind the series of belts for steering pump, air-con compressor, and generator. Besides, it is inside the two plastic covers where you have to unscrew eight to nine bolts. Only experienced mechanics are doing this and checking the belt ‘s condition requires an effort consuming works.


Ordinary timing belt is not reliable, it will cost your engine. Always go for original part even though it is expensive. There is no other alternative to safety and travel enjoyment. Secure yourself through awareness and contentment. Happy summer-heat-and-cool-outing.

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