What's a Cambelt and When Does It Need Changing?

31st Mar 2023

By Kenny Longdon

What is a cambelt?

A cambelt or timing belt is one of the most important parts of a car's engine. It's responsible for keeping crucial parts of the motor working in sync with each other - making sure timing is accurate to ensure perfect running.

Some cars have a timing chain instead of a belt. A chain is normally made of metal links rather than rubber or polyurethane, which is what most belts are made of. Chains tend to more durable and normally last longer than a belt, but that's not to say some can fail. Timing chains tend to last the life of the car, whereas as many cars with a timing belt require it to be changed as part of the car's servicing requirements.


Do I need to replace my cambelt?

Cambelts or timing belts usually need to be replaced, usually between 40,000 and 100,000 miles. Alternatively, for lower mileage cars, the belt is advised to be replaced around four or five years. However, it all depends on the car and manufacturer.

When buying a new car it's worth finding out when the belt is needing to be changed, if at all, but it's especially important with a used car for obvious reasons.

Most cambelt servicing requirements are conveniently listed in the car's handbook or can be found via a quick browse of the internet.

Why is the cambelt important?

Belt Engine

The cambelt or timing belt is crucial to an engine as it's responsible for keeping the motor working as smoothly as possible, making sure the timing is accurate - hence why it's sometimes called a timing belt.

Poor timing on an engine, resulting from a worn or faulty cambelt can cause a number of problems with the biggest being engine damage, which in most cases is not a cheap fix.

Signs a cambelt or timing belt needs attention

If your car or a vehicle you're looking to buy is suffering from any of the below, it could be a sign that the timing is off - usually meaning the cambelt or timing belt needs adjusting or changing:

  • Rough or lumpy running of the engine
  • Lack of power when accelerating
  • Miss-firing when driving or idling
  • Excessive use of fuel

What happens if I ignore a cambelt change?


If a cambelt or timing belt interval is missed, or the aforementioned points above are ignored, the outcome can be that of serious engine damage.

A snapped cambelt or timing belt can cause the pistons and valves of the engine to collide, resulting in severe and irreversible engine damage, meaning an engine rebuild or completely new engine is needed - both of which are not cheap.

Let Evans Halshaw check your cambelt

Is your car running rough? Maybe you've noticed a lack of power, or just want to check the condition of your timing belt, chain or cambelt. Contact your local Evans Halshaw who can book your car in for a diagnostics.

Alternatively, if you're in the market for a new car, or used car, click the aforementioned links to browse at your leisure.