Serpentine and Timing Belt Replacement in Burnaby, BC

Serpentine Belt Repair

How much does a Serpentine Belt repair cost?

The cost for replacing the serpentine belt varies on the vehicle but is usually between $100 to $350.

What is a serpentine belt?

Serpentine belt repair

The serpentine belt, also called the alternator belt, accessory belt or drive belt, is what connects the engine’s output shaft to the alternator. You’ll notice cracking and fraying if your belt is wearing out, which is a sign that it should be changed.

When to replace your car's serpentine belt?

  • Regularly scheduled maintenance. Normally, belt manufacturers recommend belt replacement at 140,000 km. However, the belt must be examined for wear or damage at regular intervals prior to this high mileage.
  • Squealing noise, visible belt damage, belt slippage. You may hear noise or you may see visible signs of deterioration such as missing chunks of rubber, excessive cracking, or a shredded appearance on the edge of the belt if the belt fail or wear out prematurely.
  • Battery Light On. A loose belt, possibly caused by a defective tensioner, may not drive the alternator at sufficient speed and thus the battery may discharge, causing the warning light to light up.
  • Engine overheating. Often, the serpentine belt powers the water pump. In those applications, the engine will overheat in seconds to minutes if the belt breaks. If the belt is inadequately tensioned, you may notice higher-than-normal engine operating temperature.

How do mechanics replace the Serpentine Belt?

Before removing the belt, the mechanic must run the engine to regulate if the idler pulley and the belt tensioner are noise-free. Those rotating components have grease filled bearings and are subject to breakage. Moreover, the mechanic will guarantee that all pulleys and accessories are turning in the same plane. These steps help assure your new belt will operate trouble-free for its full-service life.

The belt’s routing path through the various components is noted. The belt tensioner is released, usually with a lever or wrench, to relieve the tension from the belt. With the tension gone, the belt slides off the pulleys.

All rotating components — that is the air conditioner compressor, alternator, etc. — are inspected for smooth operation and no noise.
If everything checks out, the new belt is installed all of the pulleys while holding the tensioner away from the belt. The tensioner is released and the installation is complete once the belt is centered on all pulleys. The engine is run to ensure normal operation.

Is it safe to drive with a serpentine belt problem?

No. If the belt has visible damage, you risk sudden and unexpected breakage that could possibly leave you stranded. Serpentine belt problems that result in the alternator not charging may cause the battery to discharge, resulting in loss of electrical power to the vehicle. Furthermore, if a worn out belt breaks and that belt drives the water pump, the engine will overheat in a matter of seconds.

Timing Belt Replacement

Switching a timing belt for preventive reasons usually costs $500 to $900. However, replacing a broken timing belt may cost up to $2,000 or more if it produced damage to the valves, pistons or water pump.

What's a timing belt?​

timing belt replacement infographic

An engine timing belt is a fiber reinforced; toothed drive belt manufactured using heavy-duty compounds such as highly saturated nitrile. The timing belt lets the crankshaft to drive the camshafts in the cylinder head at half the RPMs of the crankshaft. The camshafts then open and close the engine’s intake and exhaust valves in time with the movement and position of the pistons in the engine.

Signs of a Bad or Failing Timing Belt

  • Ticking noise coming from the engine. The timing belt is connected by way of a series of pulleys to the engine’s crank and camshaft.
  • Engine misfires.
  • Engine won’t turn over. The engine will not be able to turn over or ignite if the timing belt has broken inside.
  • Oil leaking from in front of the motor

When should you replace your car's timing belt?

  • The old rule was every 100,000 km. As technology has progressed, many manufacturers recommend intervals up to 160,000 km. You should examine what the vehicle’s manufacturer suggests and stay within that range to be safe.
  • Engine stops shortly or will not start. Occasionally, timing belts can skip, or break, while the engine is running.
  • Rough engine operation. The molded, reinforced teeth on the timing belt engage gears on the crankshaft and camshafts. The teeth can wear or break or the belt can stretch after many tens of thousands of miles, causing the belt to jump position on the crankshaft or camshaft gears as a result. If the belt jump, the engine will run inefficiently and sometimes not at all.
  • Banging or clanking engine noise. On some engines, the pistons and valves can collide and there will be noise and damage if the timing belt has jumped. These engine designs are referred to as interference engines. If your car has an interference engine, switching the timing belt according to the maintenance schedule will reduce the chance that a belt failure will cause engine damage.

How it's done

Engine designs vary so the replacement procedure will also vary, but broadly, the procedure is as follows:


  • Detach the battery ground cable.
  • Once the engine cools, set the crankshaft to top dead center with the number one piston on the compression stroke. Take out crankshaft pulley.
  • Remove all accessories interfering with the removal of the timing belt covers.
  • Take out timing belt covers. Lock camshafts, as needed, and note position of camshaft timing marks. Remove timing belt tensioner and idler pulleys. Take out timing belt.
  • Do so at this time if you’re planning on replacing the water pump, but first, drain the cooling system. If the engine cooling system thermostat is only accessible with water pump replacement, the thermostat should be replaced as well.
  • Installation of the new timing belt includes all of the above steps, performed in reverse, following strict guidelines to guarantee camshaft and crankshaft (and balancing shaft, if equipped) are in perfect alignment after tensioner has been set.
  • The engine crankshaft is turned by hand 720 degrees and the correct position of the timing marks on the crankshaft and the camshafts is ensured upon completion of the installation.
  • The vehicle is road tested to check normal operation and a service sticker is affixed to the engine noting the date of belt replacement and the vehicle mileage.

Is it safe to drive with a timing belt problem?

No, if a worn out timing belt to snap while underway, maybe on a highway, it poses risk of complete loss of engine power while surrounded by fast moving vehicles. You can remove the risk of unexpected and sudden timing belt breakage by having it replaced once your vehicle has reached the suggested replacement mileage for the belt. If your engine is of the interference type, it is particularly important to change the belt according to the maintenance schedule since sudden breakage of the timing belt, while the engine is running, will likely cause substantial damage to internal engine components such as the valves and pistons.

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