• Nikki Cowan

Cambelts - Everything you ever wanted to know but weren't bored enough to ask...

The cambelt (or timing belt) is one of the most crucial components of your engine, so if you're at all unsure whether it's time for a replacement, phone 020 33 842 999 and we'll be able to tell you.


Based on the age and mileage of your vehicle, Cartopia GDK can quickly assess whether you need to have you cambelt replaced. If it's not needed yet, we can set up a reminder to make sure you'll know when to consider getting it done and we can provide you with precise cambelt replacement costs.


If you'd like to know more about what a cambelt is and why you should replace them, then please read on.


As always at the end of the blog there's a nice treat for anyone who get's to the end.


Cambelt Kit

What is a cambelt?


The cambelt, also known as the timing belt, is one of the most crucial bits of kit in the engine.

It’s basically a rubber belt with teeth on it which synchronises the rotation of the crankshaft and the camshaft (if those two shafts just lost you, don't panic, read on).


What does a Cambelt actually do?


In a nutshell, it regulates the way your engine works.

It controls the opening and closing of the valves to the cylinders in time to ensure correct combustion in the engine. Its primary role is to control the timing and sequence of the opening and closing.

Like most bits of kit, it will eventually wear out. If it cracks, tears or snaps, it can cause a whole heap of expensive engine damage. With older cars this usually means they won’t be worth repairing.


How often should you change your Cambelt?


There’s no ‘one size fits all’ rule when it comes to how frequently a cambelt should be changed, as a lot depends on the car.

Most manufacturers suggest either a time- or mileage-based change, depending on which comes first.

There’s a lot of variation between both manufacturers and engines when it comes to when a change is due. This could range from 40,000 miles up to 100,000 miles, and from four years up to ten years.

The vehicle handbook will specify the change frequency, but if reading that is about as much fun as reading a bottle of bleach, then phone Cartopia GDK on 02033842999 and we'll be able to let you know if and when a cambelt change is due.

Manufacturer’s intervals should be treated as the absolute maximum, as failure of the cambelt can cause serious mechanical damage.



VW Polo Cambelt change using genuine VW parts

How much does a cambelt change cost?


The bill for changing a cambelt can vary from around £350 to over £600 depending on the make of car, whether you want us to use genuine or aftermarket parts and it is also common for the waterpump (the thing that pumps coolant around the engine) to run off the cambelt as well. In these cases it is always advisable to renew the waterpump as well because if you have problems with the waterpump in future you will have to do all the work again to get to it. The parts aren't hugely expensive, even genuine manufacturer parts, however it is just one of those jobs where it’s the labour that bumps up the bill.

Replacing the cambelt kit (that's what it's actually called) will take several hours of work, which involves taking apart the engine block and putting it back together.


Any early-warning signs?


Again in a nut-shell, Nope.

Often there’s no sign the cambelt’s reached the end of the road as it’s so deeply embedded in the engine.

Ruben Almeida, our senior technician at Cartopia GDK with over 20 years experience, says: “If a driver is very lucky, they may hear a rattling noise but in most cases even an expert may not be able to predict a cambelt failure, so prevention is always better than the cure”.


And unlike new brakes or other replacement parts, you may not notice any difference in the way your car drives.


How to avoid changing your Cambelt?


Cambelts are often referred to as Timing Belts, because of the way they control the timing of the engine, but to avoid the dreaded cambelt change you could buy a car that's chain driven. Cars with Timing Chains instead of Belts don't need their chains changed but before you run out and Part Exchange your belt driven car for a chain driven one, you should know that it doesn't mean they're neccessarily better. Chains stretch and repairs on that can be very costly too.


Seriously don't get me started on the BMW Vanos system !!!!! In fact if you have a 1.6 petrol BMW from 2004 to 2008 then you do want to be part exchaning that. :)



When you book your car in for a Cambelt change at Cartopia GDK, mention this blog post and we'll give your car a good wash once we've finished.


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