Timing belt replacement cost

You can probably expect to pay about $800

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Your timing belt makes sure the different parts of your engine move in sync, and if it starts to fail, you’ll want to replace it as soon as possible.

But what will that cost? Will your warranty help? And is it true that you typically have to replace your water pump and your timing belt at the same time?

Read on to find out.


Key insights

  • Timing belts cost around $800 to replace, but like almost any car repair, your bill will depend on what you drive.
  • Your powertrain warranty may cover the cost if your vehicle is only a few years old.
  • A timing belt is a rubber loop that snakes around the outside of your engine, synchronizing multiple components.
  • Some mechanics recommend replacing other belt-driven components at the same time you replace your timing belt to save on labor, but that isn’t always necessary.

How much does it cost to replace a timing belt?

The cost to replace a timing belt typically hovers between $600 and $900, with the average landing around $800. However, prices vary significantly for different makes and models.

To illustrate, here are some timing belt replacement cost estimates for different vehicles from RepairPal.

As you might expect, parts tend to be more expensive for luxury vehicles, and the difficulty of accessing your vehicle’s timing belt can have a huge impact on your overall cost.

Are timing belt replacements covered under warranty?

Even the most basic powertrain warranties tend to cover timing belts since they’re essential for making your vehicle move.

If your vehicle is under 5 years old and has fewer than 60,000 miles on the odometer, there’s a good chance that you’re still covered under your manufacturer’s powertrain warranty — even if you’re not the original owner.

» SEE IF YOU’RE COVERED: Car warranty check by VIN

Many extended warranty providers’ most affordable plans also cover timing belts, but it’s worth checking your contract to make sure before you sign.

For example, Harolyn, a ConsumerAffairs reviewer from Alabama, told us her warranty company paid to replace both her timing belt and water pump. However, Matthew, a reviewer who bought from a different company, said, “I was disappointed that the timing belt was not covered, but apparently that is a maintenance item due every 100K.”

Your warranty may not cover a timing belt replacement if it’s considered preventive maintenance.

The point is, if you’re considering an extended warranty to cover a specific part, it’s worth asking (and double-checking the fine print) before you buy. “When I asked the question about the timing belt, the guy didn’t know the answer and he went to his supervisor and came back and said they do cover it. They were willing to get out there and check. The other company did not do that,” said Lawrence, a reviewer from Texas.

Even if your extended warranty covers timing belts, they usually don’t cover preexisting conditions. That means you have to sign up before your timing belt starts causing problems.

Likewise, warranties of all kinds only cover factory defects. In other words, they won’t cover repairs needed due to:

  • Damage from collisions, weather, animals, vandalism or other causes
  • Abuse or misuse, like racing, off-roading or towing too much
  • Neglect, like leaving your car to sit for months or failing to stick with the routine maintenance schedule in your owner’s manual

Think of it like this: If you’ve been keeping up with regular maintenance and your timing belt still fails for seemingly no reason at all, it’s more likely to be covered under warranty.

» MORE: What does a car warranty cover?

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FAQ

What does a timing belt do?

As its name implies, a timing belt ensures that multiple engine components (like your crankshaft, camshaft and water pump) all work in sync. You can think of it as the conductor to your engine’s orchestra.

A timing chain performs the same exact job, except it’s made of metal and typically housed inside of the engine. (Timing belts are generally found on the outside.)

When should you replace your timing belt?

In general, timing belts tend to last between 60,000 and 100,000 miles. However, you should listen to your mechanic’s recommendations about replacing it if you’re lucky enough to have a technician you trust.

What are the signs of a bad timing belt?

When your engine runs rough, emits a rhythmic “ticking” sound or simply won’t start at all, it might be time for a new timing belt. Those symptoms could mean different things, however, so it’s always best to let your mechanic tell you what’s wrong — not the other way around.

What happens when a timing belt breaks?

When a timing belt breaks or snaps, there’s nothing to synchronize your engine’s critical components. As a result, multiple parts of your engine can essentially crash into each other, risking instant and catastrophic engine failure.

That’s why it’s smart to get to a trusted mechanic ASAP if your engine is giving off any of the telltale signs of a failing belt.

» LEARN: How much does it cost to replace an engine?

Do I have to replace my timing belt and water pump at the same time?

When you replace your timing belt, your mechanic might recommend replacing your water pump and other components along with it.

The reason many mechanics recommend replacing these parts at the same time is that a lot of them tend to have similar life spans. In other words, if your belt is failing at 80,000 miles, your water pump might be on its way out, too.

Sure, you could always replace your timing belt and water pump separately, but if you do them at the same time, you could save around $400 in labor costs. Your mechanic has to dig pretty deep to replace your timing belt or your water pump, “and we might as well replace both while we’re in there,” said Sean Kim, an experienced Atlanta-area mechanic.

That being said, any time a shop insists that you have to replace multiple parts at once, it’s best to get a second opinion before paying. Per Kim, “I’d always check for validity unless it's a reputable shop that you're familiar with.”


Article sources

ConsumerAffairs writers primarily rely on government data, industry experts and original research from other reputable publications to inform their work. Specific sources for this article include:

  1. RepairPal, “Timing Belt Replacement Cost.” Accessed Feb. 21, 2024.
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