/ do they need cam bets changing? Help buying a car

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puppythedog on 26 Mar 2014
Hello Hive mind,

I suddenly have to buy a new car (new to us) and probably today or tomorrow. thanks to some good fortune and kindness we have a budget of 2.5 to 3k. I'm looking at diesels and many of the ones coming up at circa 100k on the clock. Some don't say they have had their cam belt changed, is it necessary? would this be something we would have to pay to have done soon and isn't it expensive?

All answers helpful (probably) although I don't need to see that picture of limestone Mark is trying to pass off as grit.
CurlyStevo - on 26 Mar 2014
In reply to puppythedog:

Depends on the car on the frequency of changing, it should be laid out in the logbook servicing section. Some cars have cam chains now and AFAIK don't need changing.

When I had my civic done it came to about 300 quid.
Lord of Starkness - on 26 Mar 2014
In reply to puppythedog:

Depends on whether the engine has a belt or chain driven cam. Even within a model range and engines of the same size you can find some have belt and others chain driven cams.

My last Octy (1.9tdi) had a belt cam - and recommended change interval of 100k Km / 60k M.

If buying a car with 100k M on the clock I'd want to see evidence in the service log / garage receiptthat the belt had been changed - irrespective of whether the car was being sold by a dealer or privately.
puppythedog on 26 Mar 2014
In reply to CurlyStevo:

thank you both, so check logbook/handbook and see what it says.
StuDoig - on 26 Mar 2014
In reply to puppythedog:

100k km or 100k miles? If it's the latter (and a belt drive) I'd definitely be looking to see evidence that it'd been changed. If the former, I'd be thinking it's right on the cusp of needing to be changed. Either way I'd be factoring in the cost of replacement in what I offered for it if it hadn't (or they couldn't show it had been).

Cheers,

Stuart
Dave Perry - on 26 Mar 2014
In reply to puppythedog:

Twice I've had a cam belt break. Does loads of damage to the engine. 1000 not far of the mark to repair in a garage. If in doubt take the old one out and get a new one fitted.
CurlyStevo - on 26 Mar 2014
In reply to Dave Perry:

bad luck! were you driving them past the recommended miles? Or maybe hot / cold environments?
wintertree - on 26 Mar 2014
In reply to puppythedog:
Check the service interval from the car's manual or the manufacturer.

If its due a new one and you have no evidence that it has been changed, get it done or buy a spare engine in anticipation of the inevitable.

They're not like headlight fluid, they really do wear out and are very important to the safety of lots of expensive bits of machinery in there.
Post edited at 10:09
pwo - on 26 Mar 2014
In reply to puppythedog:

if there is no evidence of the belt being changed then factor the cost in (usually around the 300 mark). Otherwise an extremely costly learning experience. I genuinely know someone who bought a camper van knowing the belt needed changing (past its sell by date)and the receipt he was given and signed stated the belt needed doing and, you've guessed it, the belt snapped approx. 100metres from his house. Cost him over 1,000 to sort.
puppythedog on 26 Mar 2014
In reply to puppythedog:

Thank you all, the cars I've looked at have chains, does that mean they are fine and don't need to worry?
CurlyStevo - on 26 Mar 2014
In reply to puppythedog:

I think some cars with chains sill have part(s) that need changing. You should check the service schedule or google the specific car.
Dave B on 26 Mar 2014
In reply to puppythedog:


Yes and no. On something like th Nissan almera which had a cam chain it was prone to lack of oil if the oil was not changed regularly as it could block the feeder tubes that kept it lubricated and then it would snap... Replacement engine time. Generally though, chains are maintenance free, but noisier than belts. Look for frequent oil changes for cam chain engines would be by advice and regular long distance usage would generally be better than infrequent usage to keep the chain oiled and corrosion free...

puppythedog on 26 Mar 2014
In reply to CurlyStevo:

Thanks again Steve.
puppythedog on 26 Mar 2014
In reply to Dave B:

Thanks Dave. I don't tend to get in the car for less than twenty miles :-)
CurlyStevo - on 26 Mar 2014
In reply to Dave B:

Some chains need replacing at set intervals there's a difference between single row and double row chains for example.

I seem to remember some ford focus's have a timing chain but believe it or not there is still a belt in the timing components which does need changing too!
David Barratt - on 26 Mar 2014
In reply to puppythedog:

Don't buy anything without a full service record! This was my mistake. Luckily I managed to shift the thing on Gumtree. Unlucky for them, it broke down the day they bought it from me! On one hand I felt responsible, but on the other, they bought as-seen with no service record. So watch out!
Ann S on 26 Mar 2014
In reply to puppythedog:
Bought my Octy at 96k and the dealer threw in a cambelt change as part of the deal. 162k now so will get it redone at the next annual service.
Post edited at 19:35
Andrew Lodge - on 26 Mar 2014
In reply to puppythedog:

If you do loads of miles cam belts are a pain and a significant expense as you end up getting them changed every year or so (60K miles comes around pretty soon for some people). If you get a main dealer to do it you can easily say goodbye to 500. If you are in that situation I would say make sure you get an engine with a cam chain
If you only do average mileage it is less of a concern but unless you get a copy of a service receipt assume it has not been done, don't rely on stamps in a book.

As has been said it is very expensive when they snap
Kipper - on 26 Mar 2014
In reply to Dave Perry:

> Twice I've had a cam belt break. Does loads of damage to the engine.

This isn't necessarily true - for a non-interference engine. I can't believe some of the replacement costs - but I guess that's what it is :-)
Nic DW - on 26 Mar 2014
In reply to Kipper:

> "This isn't necessarily true - for a non-interference engine."

Didn't they stop making those circa 1990?
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Kipper - on 26 Mar 2014
In reply to Nic DW:

> Didn't they stop making those circa 1990?

Could have done; I've got one, but I'm not really sure what todays cars are like :-)
arch - on 26 Mar 2014
In reply to puppythedog:

I'd get the cambelt changed if your in any doubt. We've just had ours go on our Volvo XC90. 2k to get it fixed. Ouch!!
puppythedog on 26 Mar 2014
In reply to puppythedog:

Thank you all for your input.
Dave Perry - on 26 Mar 2014
In reply to Kipper:

1st was a ford escort. Can;t remember whether I'd changed it as per recommended.
2nd was last year - a 07 vauxhall combi with around 45,000 on the clock and regularily serviced and the chain cam simply broke. And no I don't thrash it !!!
Jim Fraser - on 26 Mar 2014
In reply to puppythedog:

Cam belts are rubbish. During the period that they were being introduced on cars, I worked for a motor manufacturer designing auxiliary drives on truck engines (gears). There is no sound reason for cam belts. Good quality chains are quieter and last 200000+ miles. I try very hard not to pay good money for vehicles with cam belts. My BMW has a chain.

The big names are in no way immune to cam belt failure. Seen disasters on Fords and Renaults. I cannot describe how much I detest cam belts.
Neil Williams - on 26 Mar 2014
In reply to Jim Fraser:
"There is no sound reason for cam belts."

I think the reason is that they're cheaper and they don't need lubricating. They can also be quieter, but not compared with modern chains.

They mostly don't fail if replaced frequently enough, e.g. half the recommended interval to be safe. I think mine's going to get done at this service.

Neil
Post edited at 23:16
Kipper - on 26 Mar 2014
In reply to Dave Perry:

Now's probably a good time to tell my cam belt story (or not).

I had an Alfasud (2 actually - spares for the first). Belt went one day ( I seem to remember they had 2 external belts), not too much damaged so being a 'home mechanic' I got the valves straightened, head skimmed etc. and put the new ones on.

She fired first time; only to draw in the rag I'd left on the engine around the new belt and snap it again - back to square one....

A much easier job than the GT Junior repair - but that's a different story.

deepsoup - on 26 Mar 2014
In reply to Jim Fraser:

Having had a Honda VF750, I would find it hard to think of cam chains as a good thing. ;o)

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