Some cars use timing chains instead of belts. They're rising in popularity due to their durability -- they often last for the life of the car.

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Tools Needed for a Timing Belt Replacement

You may not even think twice about your timing belt until it nears replacement time, but don't be lulled into a false sense of security because you haven't hit 60,000 or 100,000 miles (96,561 or 160,934 kilometers) yet on your timing belt. If you happen to be working on your engine and can see the belt, take a look for cracks, shredding or excessive slack.

Furthermore, keep in mind that your timing belt will attain natural wear and tear from the engine environment -- a toasty world that can get up to more than 500 degrees Fahrenheit (260 degrees Celsius). If there are any additional outside factors to the belt's wear, you may need to pick up the pace on vehicle maintenance of your belt. Examples of other factors affecting your auto maintenance schedule include:

  • Oil leaks from surrounding seals that could corrode the belt
  • Living in a dry climate where belts become worn and brittle rapidly
  • Infrequent driving, which causes the belt to become a set shape

Considering these factors and routine car maintenance, chances are you'll need to replace your belt during your ownership of your vehicle. And when that time comes, there are certain tools needed for a timing belt replacement. If you're accustomed to doing your own repair work, you'll likely have most of the tools you need. These include:

  • Socket set
  • Torque wrench
  • Combination wrenches
  • Screwdrivers
  • Drain pan
  • Antifreeze
  • Jack and jack stands

In addition to these tools, you will also need some materials specific to timing belt replacement, such as a new timing belt, timing light, timing belt cover gasket set, belt tension gauge, and bolts or pins to hold the camshaft position during your work. Depending on your vehicle's make and model, you may also need a harmonic balancer puller or three-jaw gear puller to remove the crankshaft pulley if it doesn't just slide off.

And, as with most auto maintenance procedures, one size doesn't fit all. Procedures, tools and belt type needed for timing belt replacement vary depending on vehicle make and model. Therefore, perhaps the most valuable tool of all during a belt replacement is a technical manual from a reputable automotive maintenance publisher, such as Chilton or Bentley Publishers [source: Trottier].

Now that you have your tools lined up and service manual handy, let's take a look at how to remove your old timing belt.