An internal combustion engine is remarkably resilient when you consider how much is actually going on out of sight. Many different parts have to work together in harmony to ensure that fuel can be converted into energy and, in turn, into drive. One part, in particular, has a very big role to play in helping to orchestrate manoeuvres. As a car owner, you need to keep a close eye on this component to ensure that it is always in good condition. What can happen if things go wrong here?
Timing Belt or Chain
At the front of a vehicle's engine is the timing belt or chain. In most cars, this is made from a reinforced rubber material with notches along one side that grab onto various pulleys. In essence, this belt will connect the crankshaft with the camshaft, together with other ancillaries. Its primary job is to make sure that the camshaft turns in harmony with the crankshaft so that input and output valves open at the right time for the firing sequence.
Technicians will adjust the timing belt very carefully when they first configure the engine. They will tighten it carefully and make sure that it can run without a problem at maximum revolutions. Yet it is under tremendous pressure and will inevitably wear down with time. You need to ensure that it does not break due to lack of maintenance, as the results could be catastrophic.
Usually, you will get some advance warning that all is not well. The belt may start to slip, and as it does so, the timing will be thrown out. The engine will begin to misfire as the valves will then open or close too quickly. This will allow too much fuel into each chamber and create inconsistency.
You may also notice some smoke coming out of the tailpipe. In this case, excess fuel is being burned off and forced through the exhaust. Don't be surprised if a strong smell of petrol accompanies this smoke.
If the timing belt or chain were to break altogether, the crankshaft and camshaft would start to turn under their own devices. In this case, the piston would move up and come into contact with the valves in the open position, causing considerable damage to the entire motor.
Take Action Now
If you notice any of those early and tell-tale signs, take the vehicle to an auto repair mechanic right away. They will be able to repair or replace the timing belt and help you to avoid disaster.