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Can you check a timing belt without taking it off?

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Durenol
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Can you check a timing belt without taking it off?

Post by Durenol » Sat Aug 24, 2019 1:51 pm

07 XC70. Is it possible to simply pop off the plastic cover and look at the belt with a flashlight to get a good sense of how worn out it is, or is it one of those cases where you pretty much have to take the whole thing out in order to see anything useful?



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Re: Can you check a timing belt without taking it off?

Post by Rattnalle » Sat Aug 24, 2019 2:00 pm

You can see quite a bit of it.

It's however one of those things that will look in perfect condition even when it reaches end of life. Unless something has gone terribly wrong.



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Re: Can you check a timing belt without taking it off?

Post by abscate » Sat Aug 24, 2019 3:29 pm

They last 50-100% longer than the service interval. It’s rarely the belt that breaks, something else takes it out

They also fail on miles, not time.


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Re: Can you check a timing belt without taking it off?

Post by Durenol » Sat Aug 24, 2019 7:49 pm

Rattnalle wrote:
Sat Aug 24, 2019 2:00 pm
It's however one of those things that will look in perfect condition even when it reaches end of life. Unless something has gone terribly wrong.
Are you sure? I was looking at some videos of the repair and in one of them after the guy had the belt out he zoomed in with the camera and showed that it had a bunch of cracks when you flex it back and forth, and estimated that it would have failed in less than 5k miles. In a different belt thread people mentioned that when they did replacements they could see cracks.
abscate wrote:
Sat Aug 24, 2019 3:29 pm
They also fail on miles, not time.
Well they're going to fail on time at SOME point, rubber will eventually break down whether you use it or not. This belt is 12 years old and the manual says to replace it after 10. But money is tight and everyone's quoting $800-1000 for a belt job so were trying to see how long we can risk it.



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Re: Can you check a timing belt without taking it off?

Post by SuperHerman » Sat Aug 24, 2019 8:15 pm

Remove upper inspection cover and you can see the belt. If I recall correctly, remove the two far (Passenger side) torx bolts and the clips on the cover and it pops off. From here you can see the belt condition.

On my XC90 - the belt was changed at 100k by the dealer. I inspected my XC90 belt around 140k miles and it was cracked - not frayed but serious cracking. Belt was quickly replaced.

My advice is to check it every few oil changes and use the recommended service interval for replacement only if the belt shows no signs of cracking, fraying or uneven wear.



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Re: Can you check a timing belt without taking it off?

Post by abscate » Sat Aug 24, 2019 9:19 pm

I ran my 1999 140k miles and 14 years

I’ve run my VW 60k miles and 16 years

The PZEV version of Volvos has a service interval of 15 years and 150k miles and uses exactly the same parts

We have different risk tolerances , So balancing available funds against risk is personal.


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Re: Can you check a timing belt without taking it off?

Post by - Pete - » Sat Aug 24, 2019 10:15 pm

1. Where are you located? People on these forums are generally pretty helpful & will occasionally come give you a hand/knowledge for nothing to little (or beer). I'd be happy to help, for one.

2. How many miles are on the vehicle &/or has the timing belt/tensioner/idler/serp belt ever been replaced? This determines how much you will need in parts.

3. Belts can and do fail (very seldomly), but the timing failures (pistons meeting valves) on these engines is most often due to the bearing(s) in the tensioner or idler going bad. That in turn kills the belt. That in turn, well, if you have no belt (or shards of a leftover belt) to keep timing between the crank & cams, kah-poot goes your motor.

4. You then say, "Oof-tah".


The parts to do your timing belt, tensioner, idler pulley, serpentine belt, and possibly water pump & bolts (mileage dependent, see #2) will vary. Basically, you're looking at minimum of $80-ish to just do timing belt, idler, tensioner. $160-ish to do that, plus an Aisin water pump (which I would endorse over cheaper variants) (add $16 for coolant).

I wouldn't skimp on the serpentine belt, since as history has shown, if the serp belt fails, it can get sucked into the crank timing pulley & then take your engine out at that level. Serp belts are $25-30.

Worst case scenario, you're into it for just under $200 in parts. Pretty insignificant considering the cost of having to rebuild your cylinder head (or more!) or find an engine/head to replace yours with will run your cost of ownership right through the smokestack!

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It's like a smoker with lung cancer or heart failure asking the doctor "so, about how many smokes do you think it's safe for me to smoke?"


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Re: Can you check a timing belt without taking it off?

Post by Rattnalle » Sun Aug 25, 2019 2:19 am

My belt looked almost brand new when I replaced it at the milage cutoff. YMMV I guess.

I agree with the above that it's a risky thing to postpone. And it's also not at all bad to DIY. I've done it once and I probably spent about three or four hours, going slow to make sure I got it right.



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Re: Can you check a timing belt without taking it off?

Post by oragex » Sun Aug 25, 2019 5:52 am

Be aware that 'visible' wear on the timing belt will depend on how was the car driven. If it had, say, a 70 years old owner never revving it past 3000 rpm in a mild climate, the belt may look like new even at 130000 miles. I've seen one such belt, only from a very close up view with a flash light I could detect micro cracks to it. Mine too at 100000 miles was looking perfectly however when turned, it had 2 cracks at different places. So it's not always as easy to discern if the belt was replaced or not by only looking to it. For the belt, I recommend Continental



But sometimes you will see this - and speaking of such belt, I once had a fresh XC90 owner coming for a p/s pump, by habit I went to look at his belt, it was twice as worse than the one in the next video. Could not figure out how was the belt still there. The owner was still daily driving his car (the infamous T6 engine)




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Re: Can you check a timing belt without taking it off?

Post by Durenol » Sun Aug 25, 2019 4:15 pm

abscate wrote:
Sat Aug 24, 2019 9:19 pm
The PZEV version of Volvos has a service interval of 15 years and 150k miles and uses exactly the same parts
Yeah I know we got into this discussion the first time I asked about belt stuff a year or two ago. I agree with you that Volvo is probably lying about belt replacement time due to political motivations, but I disagree about the direction of said lying. I know you feel that because the PZEV interval is 15 years that must mean the "real" interval for all engines is 15 years, however I don't think this is the case. I agree with other people who feel that what's actually going on is that Volvo was required to provide a longer service interval due to forces outside their control, so they just lied and said the interval was longer because it's cheaper to eat the warranty cost on such a small number of vehicles that were only sold in five states than to engineer a different belt for them.

I'm sure Volvo underspecs the interval slightly to give themselves a buffer, but they're not going to underspec it by 33 percent. If they're saying 10y then they probably expect it to fail around 11 or 12, which is where we're at now.
Rattnalle wrote:
Sun Aug 25, 2019 2:19 am
And it's also not at all bad to DIY. I've done it once and I probably spent about three or four hours, going slow to make sure I got it right.
This doesn't really matter in our case since we can't DIY anything that requires more than an hour and a socket wrench. We don't have a lift or any way to get under the car at all, don't have any tools, and can't leave the car in pieces overnight. I can replace an air filter and a headlight bulb, but for anything else it has to go into a shop.



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