The timing belt controls the camshafts in your engine, opening and closing valves at just the right time for smooth operation. Like other belts in your car, the timing belt is a piece of rubber that eventually wears and must be replaced. If you are lucky enough to have a vehicle that uses a timing chain, read no further, as chains do not typically require replacement.
The timing belt is located inside the engine where, on most cars, it cannot be inspected for signs of wear. Therefore, each auto manufacturer dictates the mileage interval for replacing the belt in the vehicle’s maintenance schedule. Most timing belt replacement intervals fall between 90,000 and 110,000 miles. Some brands, like Hyundai and Mitsubishi, have an interval of just 60,000 miles. The water pump is usually changed at the same time at the timing belt.
Some people are reluctant to spend the $900-$1500 for a timing belt job and put it off. DON’T PUT IT OFF! Change the timing belt when it is due (or a few miles sooner)!!! If the timing belt breaks, it’s like a bomb going off inside your engine. Unless you have a car with a non-interference engine (which is very rare), a broken timing belt results in you needing a new engine. $1200 to change the timing belt or $5,000 for a new engine? Your choice.