[V8] timing belt

Roger Woodbury rmwoodbury at roadrunner.com
Thu Sep 18 02:18:40 PDT 2008

In May when I bought my current 1990 V8...aka "The Acadian Wraith" (at least
right now, I think), the car had 62,000 miles. The mileage was verified by
Carfax, and when the car was in the shop, the overall cleanliness of the car
everywhere put proof to it.  

The left side timing belt seal was crimped in one place.  That seemed to
indicate that the timing belt covers had been off at one point or another,
so it was with great anticipation that we pulled the timing belt covers off
to inspect the belt.  

And the belt was in terrific condition visually.  There were NO cracks and
very little sign of wear on the teeth or edges.  BUT the belt was very, very
soft.  Feeling the belt it was extremely obvious that it was the original
belt, and that while it was unlikely that it would break, jumping teeth was
a distinct possibility.  So the decision was made and the mechanic was
instructed to "DO EVERYTHING" since he was going to be there.  

My mission the next weekend was to take my mother out to Mother's Day
luncheon, which was to involve around 150 miles of driving door to door.  I
drove VERY carefully, with no acceleration faster than a very slow snail and
returned home after a pleasant sunny afternoon's drive.  We did not pass go,
nor collect ten cents, but immediately took the car to the wrench's garage,
parked it put the key through the slot in the door for Sunday dropoffs.  

Now, THAT timing belt was eighteen years old, and I suspect that the covers
had been off, most probably by the dealer who was wholesaling the car away.
I suspect that Monkey Lad had removed the covers and found the timing belt
more or less intact, and the car had thus gone to auction. The timing belt
seal was crimped a tad upon replacement of the covers after inspection, but
not replacement.

To me the bottom line is that there are a lot of factors that determine
timing belt demise.  The Acadian Wraith was lucky to have a timing belt last
eighteen years without failure.  But remember, originally the timing belt
replacement interval was 90,000 miles, so in terms of miles, 60,000 is no
big deal.  My car was a one owner car, and I believe that it sat in a garage
most of its life.  Timing belts probably age better if they are kept inside.
Perhaps living in Indiana and Ohio all its life was good for the original
belt, too, since it didn't have to deal with the temperature swings of
coastal Maine, nor the humidity and general nastiness that the Atlantic
Ocean can bring to any machine.

Whatever the case, MY interval is sixty thousand miles for both the Silver
Wraith and the Green Horney, and at fifty thousand miles we start looking to
see if we have another ten grand to go safely.  

When I get the new barn built, IF I am lucky enough to find another V8 to
keep "in the bank", I think I will get one of those great big plastic
zippered car bags to keep it in until ready to take it out onto the road....


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