Bad Timing Belt Symptoms (8 Things To Be Aware Of)

When your car won’t start or suddenly dies in the middle of the road, it’s easy to think that something must be wrong with the battery.

However, this may also be caused by a band in your engine called the timing belt. Here’s what I found!

Bad Timing Belt Symptoms

Some of the more critical symptoms of a bad timing belt relate to the engine not working properly. Other signifiers may be a failing ignition system, difficulty in handling the car, and strange noises and smoke coming out from the car. Physical damage to the components of the engine may also be caused by the timing belt.

To learn more about how a bad timing belt can affect your car, keep reading!

1. Engine Misfire

A misfiring engine may be a symptom of a bad timing belt.

Normally, the timing belt has rubber ridges that are meant to fit flush with the teeth of the camshaft.

However, the ridges on the timing belt can wear down over time, which can cause it to come loose.

Moreover, an engine misfire can happen because the timing belt slips off the camshaft, preventing the turning of the crankshaft, piston, and valves.

As such, an engine misfire may point toward a bad timing belt.

2. Ignition System Failing

In addition, a failing ignition system may also be a symptom of a faulty timing belt.

Generally, the timing belt works with the camshaft to control the opening and closing of valves.

As such, it is susceptible to wear or damage with time and after a lot of use, just like other components of your engine.

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In the worst-case scenario, a faulty timing belt can cause severe damage to your car’s ignition system, necessitating the replacement of the complete power mill.

3. Rough Engine Idling

Aside from my points above, your engine rough idling may also point toward a bad timing belt.

Usually, what can happen to the timing belt’s teeth as they get old or worn-out isn’t well understood.

Moreover, the teeth of the timing belt may degrade or possibly fall off if it is used for an extended period without being replaced.

As a result, the gears that the timing belt’s teeth are supposed to control may be left alone.

Furthermore, a rough idle could result from the loose teeth falling onto the gears and may result in poor camshaft timing, which would cause the engine to stall.

4. Smoke Coming from Exhaust

Smoke Coming from Exhaust

In addition, the timing belt may be to blame if your car emits a little too much exhaust smoke.

Generally, timing belts maintain control over an engine’s operation; the cylinders have two openings that allow air to enter and exhaust gases to exit.

Depending on how the cylinders move and how the camshaft spins, the synchronized holes open and close.

When the timing belt snaps, the synchronized operation of the holes in the cylinders ceases, and exhaust gas will release at the incorrect periods, resulting in a lot of smoke coming from the exhaust.

5. Low Oil Pressure

In the event of a timing belt failure, a drop in the oil pressure is among the most severe symptoms that you’ll be able to feel.

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Usually, the timing belt turns the camshaft, which also controls the crankshaft as well as the valves and pistons in your engine.

However, if the timing belt snaps, pieces of the camshaft that it is intended to turn may come loose and land in the oil pan.

As a result, this will lower the oil pressure, which may result in engine failure.

Usually, rebuilding or replacing the engine is the only option to fix this.

6. Damaged Valves or Pistons

One of the more critical signs of a bad timing belt is damage to the valves or pistons on the engine.

In this situation, the crankshaft will eventually start turning independently and will not be moving in unison with the camshaft if the timing belt is damaged or broken.

Further, the piston will make contact with the valves as they open; the subsequent friction may result in damage to the piston or valves.

Therefore, it’s best to get the timing belt looked at right away because these can seriously harm your engine.

7. Engine Won’t Turn Over

What’s more, you won’t even be able to start your car if the timing belt breaks.

If this is the case, you might hear a clicking sound coming from the starter motor, but the engine won’t start.

However, a broken belt prevents the crankshaft and camshaft from turning.

Because the timing belt frequently fails while the vehicle is in motion, there are numerous occasions when you won’t even be aware that it has broken.

Because of this, having the timing belt replaced is critical in this situation.

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8. Ticking Noise Coming from the Engine

Additionally, a ticking noise may also indicate a damaged timing belt.

For one, the crankshaft controls connection rods and the pistons inside the combustion chamber on your engine.

On the other hand, the camshaft controls the rocker arm assembly and cylinder head valves, which delivers gasoline to the combustion chamber before finally exiting through the exhaust manifolds.

As such, your car’s timing belt may start to twitch inside the engine when it begins to wear out, which can cause the two to stop turning in sync with each other.

Thus, this can cause the ticking noise, which also serves as a symptom of a bad timing belt.

To know more, you can also read our posts on bad transmission mount symptoms, why car batteries are so heavy, and why ceramic brakes are better.


There are a few symptoms of a bad timing belt, and these often involve observable issues like smoke coming from the exhaust or noises coming from the engine.

However, there are also more serious signs of a bad timing belt such as the engine misfiring or not turning over.

Therefore, it would be best to get this checked by a mechanic to have the timing belt replaced as soon as possible.

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