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I own a 2004 Kia Spectra. It only has 47,000 miles on it (I don't drive much) When I had the transmission fluid changed they said the 3 outer belts needed to be replaced due to dry rot. I am in Texas so guess this is possible. When I called to make the appt to take it in, the guy said I needed 'for maintenance' to have the timing belt replaced, as well as coolent, spark plugs and the three belts. Thus far I've not had any problems with my car and do regular oil changes, etc. What is your opinion please? I have friends that are saying there is No need. I'm an elderly female and don't want to be taken advantage of. Thank you in advance.

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

Even if the timing belt is "probably" okay, you have to weight the costs and benefits of not replacing it. From what I can tell, this car has an interference engine, meaning if the timing belt breaks, the cylinders will smash into the valves. As long as they don't break off and also tear up the cylinders/combustion chamber, this is a difficult but doable job for someone with car repair experience to do themselves, but if you need to take it to a professional to repair, you're looking at a repair bill possibly exceeding the value of the car.

As such, if there's any good indication the timing belt needs replacement, I'd just do it. If the shop is asking too much, shop around for a cheaper price or get a book and do it yourself (admittedly it sounds like this option is not for the OP) -- but remember, if you mess up the timing when installing the new one, then in a best-case you're just going to get horrible engine performance and smoking, and in a worst case you'll smash the valves just like if the timing belt broke.

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Thank you for taking the time to respond. I'd rather be safe than sorry. –  Mrs. D. Feb 2 '13 at 17:37
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Suggested maintenance on a timing belt is 60k miles.

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You need to consider the age of the belt too. Suggested maintenance is either by mileage or by time. Timing belts need to be replaced at least every 4 years on a low mileage vehicle. –  Juann Strauss Oct 20 '13 at 16:53
    
Paul, you should be aware that this isn't a standard open-ended discussion forum. Also, while you are correct that 60K miles is the recommended distance for replacement, there is also a recommended replacement interval of 48 months. –  Bob Cross Oct 21 '13 at 12:05
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