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Cam / Timing Belt Replacement / Service

The Cam belt is also known as the timing belt . The belt is located at the front of the engine and is used to drive the camshaft in time with the crankshaft. It can also drive the water pump and oil pump on many engines. The belt is made from a very special reinforced rubber and has teeth on it so that the timing is always kept correct.


When a cam belt breaks the crank shaft continues to turn, but the Cam Shaft stops. This means that some of the valves in the top of the cylinder will remain open (Down) and the piston comes up and bends them (and in some cases makes a hole in the top of the piston). This can be repaired but is very expensive and in most cases where damage has been done it is cheaper to replace the whole engine with a second hand one. Some people are lucky and no damage has occurred.
On most cars the manufacturers recommend that the belt is changed at 100 000km intervals, but some are as low as 60 000km and the highest we have seen is 150 000km.


The Manufactures all put a 5 year  maximum Time interval on the life of a Timing belt. In practice they tend to last about 10 years, but this is at the owners risk. Pictured opposite is a belt that came out of a car that had only done 70 000km, but was 9 years old.

Broken Cam Belt
Broken Cam Belt 450

70 000km 9 years old Broken Timing Belt (Perished)
T Belt-192

Being made of rubber and nylon, the belt gets old and weakened by both use and time and may break if it is not changed. In addition to the belt there are tensioners and other components that the belt runs over. If these are not changed at the same time, the bearing in them can collapse and cause them to stop turning. If this happens a brand new belt can fail in just a few kilometres. Be very cautious of a anyone who claims they can change your cam belt for a very low price – they will more than likely do exactly that and change the belt only.                                                                  
In the case of engines that have the water pump driven by the Cam belt (most of them) the water pump is located behind the Cam belt. If it were to fail or start to leak, the amount of technician time to replace it is identical to that used to replace the cam belt. As the technician fee is around the $350 mark it usually makes good sense to change it at the same.

The cost of changing a Cam belt correctly is between $450 and $1400 with most coming in between $600 and $800. The technician fee is normally fairly constant -  it is the cost of the parts that can vary dramatically. The only way to get an accurate idea is for us to prepare an estimate for you.


Cam belt Diagram 350

Cam Belt Location 350

 Cam belt Diagram        

Cam belt components





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356 Wai-iti Road