LAST UPDATED: February 16, 2020
Best Timing Belts: An Essential Maintenance Item
A high-quality timing belt is an essential maintenance item that provides longevity and peak engine performance
The Review Team
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PUBLISHED ON February 16, 2020
The timing belt in your vehicle’s engine makes the camshaft open and close the valves at the proper time. This allows the engine to run at peak performance. Not replacing the timing belt at the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended interval can cause a broken or damaged belt and, eventually, serious engine damage.
When a technician replaces a timing belt, s/he inevitably recommends replacing other vital parts as well. Since most timing belts come packaged in a kit, we have compiled a group of timing belt kits we think are the best in the buying guide below.
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Benefits of a New Timing Belt
- Avoid engine damage. When a timing belt breaks while the car is running, the camshaft no longer turns. This can cause major engine damage. Replacing an old and worn timing belt allows you to avoid this type of problem.
- Peace of mind and great performance. A new timing belt gives you peace of mind that your engine is running optimally and is not in danger of damage. An engine that is running at its best produces more power and uses less fuel and oil.
- Increased resale value. Replacing the timing belt at the recommended intervals increases the resale value of your vehicle. If a prospective buyer has proof that you have installed a new timing belt, he or she may be willing to pay more for your vehicle when it comes time to sell.
Types of Timing Belts
A Single Timing Belt Versus a Timing Belt Kit
Timing belts (also called serpentine belts) are available for purchase as a single item. However, professional technicians and shade-tree mechanics alike recommend replacing the pulleys, tensioner, and coolant pump (water pump) at the same time. This is because a lot of labor (and labor costs) go into partially dismantling the engine to access and replace the timing belt. As a result, you should also replace these items and save yourself problems (and money) in the future. If the timing belt is worn, these items are most likely worn as well and are therefore subject to failure.
OEM and Aftermarket Timing Belts
As with many auto parts, some aftermarket components are of higher quality than OEM components. This is because aftermarket manufacturers may use superior materials to construct the belt. Also, they may use better manufacturing techniques and more stringent testing. From an engineering standpoint, OEM belts can stretch at high revs, affecting engine performance. Aftermarket timing belts that are stronger won’t stretch as much.
Timing Belts and Timing Chains
Automakers commonly used chains to perform the required functions in an engine through the 1980s. Timing chains are usually more durable than belts. However, timing belts became the standard after this time because they are less noisy, less expensive, and are lighter and more flexible. Timing belts are made of rubber material infused with Twaron/Kevlar or fiberglass, which gives them these desirable properties.
The Aisin Company, also known as Aisin Seiki Co., Ltd., is a Japanese company founded in 1949. The Toyota Group owns 30 percent of the company. This Fortune Global 500 company makes a variety of OEM parts and also produces automotive accessories. It has offices and manufacturing facilities in Japan, Europe, and the United States. Check out the Aisin Engine Timing Belt Kit with Water Pump and the Aisin Timing Belt Kit with New Water Pump.
ContiTech is a division of Continental AG. This German company makes automotive items such as safety components and powertrain parts in addition to accessories. Founded in 1871, the company began as a tire manufacturer and now owns brands like General and Uniroyal. The company has offices and plants in North and South America, Africa, Australia, China, Japan, and Europe. ContiTech makes the Accessory Drive Belt Kit and Black Series Timing Belt Kit, among others.
General Motors owns ACDelco. The company makes parts for GM products and also produces aftermarket parts for GM and non-GM cars, trucks, and SUVs. ACDelco was founded in 1916 and has a long history of being associated with General Motors and its founders. ACDelco features the Professional Timing Belt Kit with Tensioner and 2 Idler Pulleys and the Professional Timing Belt and Water Pump Kit with Tensioner, Idler Pulleys, and Bolt, plus many others.
Timing Belt Pricing
- Under $50: Here you will find timing belts and accompanying components (water pump, gaskets, pulleys, tensioner) made in China. Many users report that these kits are serviceable with parts fitting the way they’re supposed to, and they are fair quality.
- $100-$200: In the medium-priced range, the timing belt kits include the same components as the lower-priced ones, but the reputation of the manufacturing company is better and the overall quality is enhanced.
- Over $250: In the high-priced range, you find kits made by OEMs that perhaps include additional parts like a camshaft seal not found in lower-priced kits. OEM parts tend to be higher quality and fit better than aftermarket ones. These kits may also simply contain more necessary parts, thus the higher price.
When you buy a timing belt replacement kit for your vehicle, it’s good to know that the kit contains everything you need to replace key wear parts in addition to the timing belt itself. These parts include a replacement water pump, pulleys, timing belt tensioner, and gaskets. It’s wise to replace these parts in addition to the timing belt for peace of mind.
Make sure the timing belt kit you choose is the correct one for your vehicle. Do your research. Check the specifications and details about the product before you buy it. Also, check the reviews and questions and answers because they may have additional information about the proper fit. If in doubt, contact the manufacturer or distributor.
When you replace the timing belt and ancillary components on your vehicle using one of these kits, the job is good for seven to 10 years and between 60,000 and 105,000 miles. This means you do not have to be concerned about your timing belt wearing out again, most likely for as long as you own your car, truck, or SUV.
- Timing: It’s wise to be sure your timing belt actually needs replacement. Specifications vary, but manufacturers recommend replacing it between 60,000 and 100,000 miles. Check your vehicle owner’s manual. Many shops will recommend a replacement for you if you are having other work done, such as the brakes or a water pump replacement.
- Warranty: Most timing belt kits warranty the workmanship of the parts for one year or 12,000 miles, whichever comes first. While it’s disheartening when a part fails after the work of dismantling your engine and reassembly, there’s consolation in the fact that the manufacturer will replace the defective part free of charge.
Best Timing Belt Reviews & Recommendations 2020
This kit includes, in addition to the timing belt, a tensioner, idler bearings, and water pump. The water pump maintains the correct water pressure while not overloading the motor. The pump’s new design provides greater strength than previous versions.
The parts are manufactured of cast aluminum, which reduces size and weight, and they match OEM specifications for a great fit and proper function. This kit includes precise instructions, which makes installation easy and fast. Compare the cost of the kit to the dealer price, and you’ll find that you save about half.
Some buyers report that you may need a strap wrench to remove the camshaft pulley during installation. You also should have a torque wrench so you can properly torque the bolts. While the instructions are well written and easy to use for the most part, check those for the crank pulley/balance torque installation for accuracy.
This kit features OEM-quality parts. It contains all of the parts you need to replace the belt and the other crucial components necessary for safe and top-notch engine performance.
With parts comparable to OEM, you know that they will fit well and work properly. The impeller on the water pump is made of metal, not plastic, for best wear and function capability.
Before ordering, make sure the kit fits your vehicle. While the manufacturer says it fits all Asian and European cars and trucks, you want to be certain. Also, check the kit upon delivery so you know that the O-ring for the water pump is included.
This economical kit includes a water pump, idler pulley, and the hydraulic tensioners you need, in addition to the timing belt. With these parts, yours will be a professional installation. These components give you an OEM fit and ACDelco is a traditional brand you can trust.
The parts in this kit include an exceptionally well-designed water pump that provides highly efficient cooling for your engine. The hydraulic tensioners are durable and perform well, which means the belt can do its job. It also means you probably won’t have to replace the tensioners again for as long as the belt itself lasts.
Be aware that the timing belt does not have marks for the proper setup. The belt also may be slightly longer than the OEM one you’re replacing. And during installation, the tensioner spring pull pin may bend.
- If you are doing the installation yourself, make sure you have the proper tools and the mechanical know-how to do the job properly. If you don’t, have a professional install the kit and save yourself money and stress.
- Most timing belt kits include a belt tensioner. It’s best to replace this part while you’re replacing the timing belt and water pump even though it may look okay. Symptoms of a bad tensioner are chirping, rattling, and squealing sounds; slapping noises; and the illumination of the “check engine” light.
- If you have signs of a timing belt failure, such as your engine misfiring or rough starts, don’t delay; get your vehicle checked. It may save your engine and save you lots of money in repairs and parts replacements.
Q: How do I know if my timing belt needs replacement?
A: Multiple warning signs should tip you off. You may hear a ticking sound from the engine. Also, the engine may not start, or if it does, it misfires. You may also see oil leaking from the front part of the motor.
Q: Can I replace a timing belt myself?
A: Yes, if you have the proper tools and knowledge. But beware: Replacing the timing belt involves taking apart major areas of the engine, replacing pulleys and gaskets, replacing the water pump, and then reassembly. Unless you have the tools and mechanical ability, it is better to have a professional tackle this task.
Q: How do I select the timing belt that fits my car or truck?
A: Do your research. Read the product descriptions and the product details online. If you have previously purchased auto parts, some online retailers will automatically inform you whether the timing belt you select fits your vehicle. Also, read the reviews and especially the questions and answers, which often have information about the correct fit. If you have any doubts or questions, contact the manufacturer or supplier before you buy it.
The Aisin TKF-001 Engine Timing Belt Kit with Water Pump is our choice for the best timing belt overall. The parts included in the kit offer an improved design that provides more strength with less weight and reduced size.
The ContiTech CK334LK1 Black Series Timing Belt Kit, our best value pick, is OEM quality and has all the parts you need to complete the job.