Many car owners have heard the word ‘cambelt’ but don’t actually know what a cambelt is, how it works and why it is so important. In short, the cambelt plays a hugely important role in keeping your vehicle on the road. Unfortunately, if your cambelt does snap, tear or otherwise break, it can cause a lot of damage, both to your vehicle and your wallet! This is why it’s essential to maintain the integrity of your cambelt and prevent it from breaking by replacing it frequently. But how do you know when to change a cambelt? Thankfully, our handy guide is here to answer that question!

When To Change A Cambelt: Our Comprehensive Guide

The Unit18 team consists of hardworking, fully trained and highly experienced professionals who regularly complete a variety of repair and testing services at our car servicing centre in Milton Keynes. If you are in need of a cambelt replacement or any of our other car services, please feel free to get in touch with a member of our team today.


What Is A Cambelt?

You may have heard garage technicians discuss your cambelt in the past, though some may even refer to it as a timing belt. The cambelt is arguably one of the most important components of the engine of the car. It is a flexible band made of extremely strong composites such as Kevlar® and polyurethane. One side of the belt is covered in protruding ‘teeth’, which interlock with the teeth of different gears. This enables the cambelt to ensure that the rotation of different gears is synchronised, such as those that turn the crankshaft and camshaft.

The purpose of the camshaft is to open and close engine valves, allowing the engine to exchange exhaust fumes for air and fuel. Meanwhile, the job of the crankshaft is to power the camshaft by harnessing the energy created by the engine and converting it into rotational motion. In order to maximise the efficiency of engine regulation, the rotation of the camshaft and crankshaft must be perfectly aligned: hence the importance of the cambelt, which may be named the timing belt due to its function of ensuring that the timing of the rotation of each shaft is regulated. If the cambelt breaks or begins to wear out, the synchronisation of the shafts is wrecked, which can cause extensive damage to your engine and even cause it to fail or seize, which is extremely dangerous if it happens while you are driving.

When To Get A Cambelt Replacement

It can be difficult to know when it is time to change your cambelt. There is no set amount of time to wait between replacements, and it generally depends on the vehicle and its mileage. As industry professionals, our car technicians recommend getting your cambelt replaced if any of these conditions apply to you and your vehicle:

  • Your mileage is 40,000-60,0000+ – the more you use your car, the more stress is placed on the cambelt, wearing it out gradually.
  • Your cambelt is more than four years old – the integrity of your cambelt will deteriorate with age, so it will need to be replaced after a certain number of years, regardless of mileage.
  • There are signs that your cambelt needs replacing – while you will not always experience indications that your cambelt is deteriorating, there are a few warning signs that you should look out for that we will discuss later in this article.
  • A professional recommends that you replace your cambelt – it is essential to have your cambelt regularly inspected, especially as this is NOT included in a standard MOT test. If a professional recommends replacing your cambelt, it is vital that you do so as soon as possible.

If you are in need of a cambelt replacement in Milton Keynes, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our team today. Our trained technicians are more than qualified to assess and replace your cambelt if necessary.


Signs That You Need A Cambelt Change

While you should not wait until problems start occurring to change your cambelt, since they will not always manifest before it is too late, there are a few warning signs of a deteriorating cambelt that you should be aware of. These include the following:

  • Your engine won’t start or misfires – when your cambelt is wearing out, it may become loose and slip, interrupting the timing and regulation of the engine and causing it to fail or misfire. This should be addressed immediately to avoid causing significant damage to your engine and prevent a serious accident from occurring.
  • You notice strange sounds – ticking or clicking noises coming from your engine may indicate low oil pressure, an issue which can cause the cambelt to lose its tension. Meanwhile, if you notice squealing sounds, your cambelt may be loose or otherwise faulty. If you notice either of these strange sounds – or any others such as hissing, grinding, slapping, rattling or rumbling – coming from your car, you should take it to be assessed immediately.
  • Visible issues – if you decide to take a look at your cambelt and inspect it for signs of damage or deterioration, there are a couple of things that you should look out for. First of all, a glazed or glossy-looking underside is an indication that your cambelt is worn and should be replaced. This shows that the material of the belt is becoming too tough and will not provide the flexibility required. Another way to check if this is the case is to gently press down on the belt with a screwdriver – if no mark is left behind, this is a strong indication that the material has become too stiff. If you notice any cracking or fraying, it is vital that you have your cambelt replaced at once.

While it is possible to inspect your cambelt yourself, we recommend having this done by a professional, as it can be difficult to get to, and the risk of missing an issue and gaining a false sense of security is not worth taking. If you would like a qualified technician to inspect your cambelt and advise whether or not it needs replacing, feel free to get in touch with us at Unit18 today.

broken car


Here are the answers to some common queries that people have surrounding cambelts and replacing them:

How Much Does It Cost To Change A Cambelt?

The cost of a cambelt replacement will vary. They can end up in the region of £200 or, in the absolute worst-case scenario, well over £1000. How much you will need to pay depends on your vehicle and where in the UK you are. By replacing your cambelt frequently, you will avoid having to pay for extremely expensive engine repairs made necessary by a worn-out cambelt. Therefore, while replacing your cambelt is not exactly cheap, you will likely save yourself money in the long run by having it done, not to mention that you will greatly reduce your risk of being involved in a serious car accident.

How Can I Prevent My Cambelt From Breaking?

The best way to prevent your cambelt from breaking or severely deteriorating is by replacing it regularly and as needed. When your car is serviced, your mechanic will likely assess the condition of your cambelt and may suggest that you replace it. If this is the case, you should absolutely take their advice. So long as you consistently replace your cambelt and have it checked in accordance with the guidelines provided in this article, you should not be at risk of your cambelt breaking. If you are in need of a new cambelt, why not pay us a visit at our car repair and MOT test centre in Milton Keynes?

What Do I Do If My Cambelt Breaks?

If the worst should happen and your cambelt does break, your car will no longer function and will need to be towed. If you decide to have your vehicle repaired, you can expect to dish out thousands of pounds to fix the damage caused to the engine. If the cambelt of an older vehicle snaps, there is likely no point in trying to have it repaired.

Can I Change My Cambelt Myself?

Technically, yes, you can change a cambelt yourself. However, the process will be a long one, as it involves deconstructing many components of your car and putting them back together correctly. You run the risk of making a mistake and having a poorly functioning vehicle at the end of it! We recommend playing it safe and leaving it to the professionals.

Can Your Repair A Cambelt?

If your cambelt wears out or develops cracks, it will need to be replaced, not just repaired, as the material it is made of will deteriorate over time and cannot be restored to its original integrity.


Keeping Your Car In Tip Top Shape

We hope that our article has helped you learn everything you need to know about cambelts, from what they are and what they do to when to have them replaced. If you are in need of a cambelt replacement or another car service in Milton Keynes, why not get in contact with our team of fully trained car technicians? Having completed many car repairs and replacements of all sorts over the years, our team has the necessary experience to give you the peace of mind that your vehicle is in excellent hands.

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