HELP! Honda Civic Timing Belt Question!

Does anyone know anything about timing belts and when/if they should be changed? I have a 99 Honda Civic with about 70K and everyone keeps telling me to change it. I was also wondering about the cost involved and what happens if i dont change it? Email me please!

A timing belt should be changed about every 60,000 miles. Your owner’s manual should tell you what Honda recommends.

It is not real cheap but it can be worse if you don’t do it.

Timing belts wear out, and if it breaks while you’re driving it is possible to get severe damage to your engine, like broken valves. I had a timing belt break while driving once and it did not cause engine damage, but I was very lucky. At very least you are stranded because the car won’t run without it.

Change it now. Follow guidelines in manual if in doubt.

If it breaks, many well sychronized parts of the valvetrain and engine will be unsynchronized and smash into each other, costing you anywhere from 1000 to 2000 bucks.

That’s in simple layman’s terms.

Thanks guys! Guess ill start calling around for a quote… anyone around the Baltimore area know of a good place to go? Guess ill have to round up a male to go with me so they dont ‘screw over the lady’! :slight_smile:

It should cost about 200 bucks to change it, and you might as well get all the belts and hoses done since they are ripping alot of stuff off to get to it.

Some folks go ahead and replace the water pump as preventative maintenance when changing the timing belt.

So, some folks spend 150 and some spend almost 500 when it comes time to change the timing belt.

The timing belt is hidden under a cover, BTW…which runs from mid-bottom engine over the top (over the cam)

…it’s a beefy belt with ribs/notches in it.

70K seems too few miles for a '99 Civic to need a new timing belt. I have a '98, and I believe the manual said something like 120K miles. I will check and report back.

Honda recommends changing the timing belt at 105,000 miles under normal conditions, 60,000 miles under severe conditions. I don’t know what their definition of severe conditions for a timing belt is. Your owner’s manual or a Honda dealer should be able to tell you.

It certainly makes sense to carefully inspect the water pump during timing belt replacement. Removing the timing belt is a large portion of the work involved in accessing the water pump, so it’s significantly less expensive to replace it at the same time than to do them separately. Even if the pump seems fine, it’s not a given that it will last until the next timing belt replacement, thus the incentive to consider replacing it for preventative maintenance as Philster mentioned.

There are front engine oil seals (camshaft, crankshaft, perhaps another) that likewise require timing belt removal to access. My experience is that they hardly ever last until the second timing belt is due, and I strongly recommend replacing them at the same time.

The drive belts (the ones you can see, for alternator, power steering, and air conditioning) must come off to access the timing belt, so this is the most economical time to replace them. I’m not aware of any hoses that need to be removed, and they usually last for 5-10 years, so I would not include them on the list.

The International Auto Technicians Network is an organization of auto repair professionals. My experience is that sponsoring members of iATN are almost always “good guys.” Go to and use the shop finder to find some in your area. Sponsoring members should appear in blue.

I suggest don’t base your choice of a repair shop on price alone. No one wants to pay more than necessary, but the general rule is you get what you pay for. In auto repair that can include competence, integrity, quality parts, sound advice, proper equipment and training, etc. I wouldn’t make a point of going to the most expensive shop in town, but I’d be very afraid to go to the cheapest.

Ok, just checked my manual, 105K miles before a timing belt change and water pump inspection. As Philster said, you may as well get the pump changed, since they’re not all that expensive.

I wouldn’t bother with the belt until at least 100K. Check your manual since these mileage marks sometimes get longer for newer models of car. I always trust the manual before I’ll trust a friend or mechanic, Honda built the car and they know what it is designed to do.

Listen to GaryT.

…and Flippin…there are women mechanics around. :smiley:

A timing belt cost me $400 (you gotta take apart a good part of the engine to replace it) but if it snaps there’s a good chance that you might have to drop $3000 on a new engine.

The timing belt connects all the parts of the engine which need to be synchronized. If your timing belt goes you might have pistons crashing into valves which are opened at the wrong times. This doesn’t happen all the time (lucky CookingWithGas) but the assurance is worth the money. But shop around, I’m afraid that I didn’t do enough of it.

Engines that go all kablooey when the timing belt breaks are called Interference engines. Most modern engines are built like this, it means that when the piston is up top it would hit the valve unless the valve is open. When the timing belt breaks, the valves remain closed and the piston smashes into them, causing broken valves and bent connecting rods, etc.

Not all engines are Interference, and when their timing belts break the car will die, but no damage will result to the engine.

I believe the Civic has an interference engine and you should change it at the scheduled mileage.

My uncle failed to change his timing belt on his 91 Civic. Luckily, his brother in law was the top salesman at a honda dealer in the south suburbs and got him the new engine for only 1700 bucks :confused:

Get it changed per the manual.

btw, great post GaryT, just what I would have said in addition to my uncles’ anecdote

A couple years ago while driving my girlfriend’s '87 Honda Accord the timing belt broke and the car immediately died (of course).

However, with the belt replaced, the car was fine.

Is th '87 Accord not an interference engine or did I just get lucky? Is it even possible to get lucky this way if the engine is interference?

I don’t know for certain whether or not those old Accords were interference. I did have an '88 Accord, lost the timing belt, and the car was fine afterwards. I thought that I just got lucky, I was driving about 3mph at the time, in the middle of a traffic jam, and figured that things would have been different if I had been going full speed. Cost me $400 to get fixed, including the tow.

According to my book, the '84-'90 Accord 1.8 & 2.0 are interference engines. My experience has been that there are some cars that almost always bend valves, but occasionally you can luck out; some engines that almost never do, but sometimes will (ouch!); and of course some engines that simply won’t (non-interference design).

Pedantic detail: Telemark’s post is correct except for mixing up open and closed valves. It’s when the valves are open, protruding into the combustion chamber, that the piston can hit them.

At any given point of camshaft rotation, some valves are open and some are closed. Normally a particular cylinder’s valves are closed or nearly so when its piston comes up to the top. When the timing belt breaks and the camshaft and crankshaft get out of synchronization, you’ve got open valves at the same time the piston comes up, and, as Telemark said, kablooey.

Open, closed, it’s the concept that’s important, right?

Hehe…I have a 92 Civic with 120k miles and I’ve never changed the belt. I’m probably going to only drive it one more time…that’s back to my parents, since my dad is going to sell it for me, and use the $ to pay down a loan I owe them. Hope it doesn’t snap on the way down there.

BTW, I’m so happy that I don’t have to worry about this any more. My 2001 Sentra has a timing chain, that requires no replacement for the life of the car. Cool.

Well, no scheduled replacement, anyway. Timing chains (and guides and tensioners) do wear out.

Right…I know that given enough wear and stress, anything will break, but I highly doubt it will go while I still own the car.

But they do require more maintainence, such as the chain tensioner and lube. You should have them checked at major tune-ups.