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How Much Does a Timing Belt Replacement Cost?

How Much Does a Timing Belt Replacement Cost?
Austin Kilham
Austin KilhamUpdated September 12, 2023
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Your timing belt is critical to your engine's ability to run properly. If it breaks, your engine will stop running immediately and there will likely be damage to other components. That’s why replacing your timing belt is part of regularly scheduled maintenance every 60,000 to 100,000 miles. Replacement costs can run between $600 and $1,000 as long as you replace your timing belt before it breaks. Costs can be much higher if the belt breaks while your vehicle is running. Here’s a look at the factors that can affect timing belt replacement cost and signs to look out for that can signal your timing belt needs to be changed. 

What Does a Timing Belt Do?

A car’s engine works when a mix of fuel and air combusts inside the engine’s cylinders, which pushes out the pistons that turn the drive shaft. Intake and exhaust valves open and close, allowing the mixture of air and fuel to enter the cylinder and the gases that result from combustion to exit the cylinder. The timing belt ensures that the intake and exhaust valves open and close at the exact time needed. The timing belt has teeth on it that interlock with the timing gears on the crankshaft and the camshaft. A tensioner holds the belt tight so that it doesn’t skip any teeth, which can be known as jumping time. The timing belt may also turn a gear that powers the water pump. 

How Much Is It to Replace a Timing Belt?

The average cost of timing belt replacement is $600 to $780. That said, depending on different factors, costs could easily range upward of $1,000 or more. If your timing belt breaks before you replace it, the damage could cost you several times more, as much as $3,000 to $5,000. In some cases, the cost of damage caused by a timing belt break could be more than the value of your vehicleIf your timing belt breaks while your car is under warranty, your warranty may cover the cost of replacement

What Affects How Much It Costs to Replace a Timing Belt?

The cost of replacing a timing belt varies according to a variety of factors, including: 

Parts Price

Parts and labor are the two main factors that go into how much it costs to fix your timing belt. On average, you can expect parts to cost between $290 and $390. Your mechanic may suggest that you replace your water pump — which is driven by the timing belt in many vehicles — at the same time, which could cost an extra $100. Doing so may be worth it since your mechanic will already have taken the time and labor to expose the pump. 


Replacing a timing belt takes roughly three to five hours, and you can expect to pay $300 to $400 on labor costs alone. Labor costs can vary depending on where you live and the complexity of the job. 

Additional Costs

Your timing belt typically needs to be replaced due to wear and tear associated with driving your vehicle, or about every 60,000 to 100,000 miles. Other parts will likely be wearing out at the same time and your mechanic may suggest replacing them, as well. Also, if your timing belt breaks, your engine will stop working immediately. In this case, you’ll need to cover the cost of towing your vehicle to your mechanic.Recommended: The Cost of a Replacement Engine 

Signs It’s Time to Replace Your Timing Belt

Your timing belt doesn’t always give you a signal that it’s going to break. Often, the rubber gets old and brittle and simply snaps. However, there are a few warning signs that you should pay careful attention to.

Ticking Sounds

Your timing belt is connected to pulleys on the crankshaft. A timing belt that’s wearing out may not turn them properly, causing a ticking sound. 

Engine Starts Suddenly Leaking Oil

A series of nuts hold your timing belt in place. If these get loose, oil can start leaking around the timing belt cover, which can cause the engine to overheat. 

New Vibration or Shaking Sensation

A failing timing belt can cause your vehicle to shake or vibrate while moving or idling, and can be a good sign it’s time to have a mechanic investigate your engine. 

Engine Feels Less Powerful

A failing timing belt may cause your engine to misfire, as your cylinders can get out of sync. It can also cause your vehicle to perform poorly, which you may notice if you get less power when you press the accelerator. 

Trouble Starting the Vehicle

If you can’t start your vehicle, it could be a sign that your timing belt is broken. 

Trouble Keeping Vehicle Cool While Running

Your timing belt can help power your water pump. If it’s not working correctly, your engine can overheat. An overheating engine risks damage to other engine parts, so it should be checked out immediately. 

Can You Drive With a Bad Timing Belt?

You should not drive with a failing timing belt. If it snaps while you’re driving, your engine will stop, which could put you in a very dangerous position. A broken timing belt can have a ripple effect on other engine components, as well, damaging other parts that will have to be replaced. 

The Takeaway: Financing a Timing Belt Replacement

Your timing belt is crucial to a functioning engine. Because of that, it’s important to have it inspected regularly to ensure it continues functioning properly. Doing so can help ensure that you stay safe and protect other components of your engine. Because replacement can be planned, you can save in advance to cover the cost. If that’s not possible, you may consider financing with a personal loan or a cash-out auto loan refinance. A personal loan for car repairs is a type of unsecured installment loan that allows individuals to borrow money to use for auto repairs and other uses. Borrowers agree to pay back the loan in regular monthly payments with interest. When you refinance a car loan, you pay off your old loan with a new loan, preferably one with a lower interest rate. You may consider refinancing when interest rates have dropped or your credit score has improved, helping you qualify for a lower rate. A lower interest rate helps you save money each month, and you can put those savings toward auto repairs. Another option is a cash-out auto refinance, which allows you to refinance your vehicle and get cash from the loan. You can then use the cash to pay for the repair.If you’re interested in refinancing, be sure to shop around to ensure you get the best loan terms and interest rates. Lantern by SoFi allows you to compare rates from top lenders and apply in one place.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long will a timing belt last?
How can I prevent my timing belt from failing?
Can I replace my timing belt with an aftermarket one?
Will my insurance cover the cost of a timing belt replacement?
Photo credit: iStock/DaveAlan

About the Author

Austin Kilham

Austin Kilham

Austin Kilham is a writer and journalist based in Los Angeles. He focuses on personal finance, retirement, business, and health care with an eye toward helping others understand complex topics.
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