My 2001 Honda Civic's manual indicates that my timing belt should be replaced every 110,000 miles or 84 months. I bought the car in July 2001 and have around 49,000 miles on it. A dealer mechanic said (when fixing a seat belt recall) that it is time to be replaced, but two local mechanics strongly suggested I wait due to the low mileage. I haven't had the best of luck with the dealer and am unfamiliar with the local mechanics outside of positive yelp reviews.

Does a timing belt wear more by mileage or time? I use the car for commuting and the climate here in northern California (Bay Area) is mild. I'm looking at about $800 parts/labor for the timing belt, tensioner, and water pump. Can mechanics inspect the timing belt to see if it actually needs replacing?


2 Answers 2


As they are made of rubber, belts begin to perish over time, and this weakens them. The constant flexing as the engine turns accelerates this weakening process. Eventually (if it weren't replaced), the rubber would split and the belt would snap - causing very expensive damage to your engine...

It is quite easy to visually observe a belt that definitely neeeds replacing, but very difficult to reliably say that it does not - and very few mechanics would be willing to say so - if they said "it's fine" and it snapped, you'd be pretty annoyed, and they'd probably lose their job!

General rule of thumb for timing belts is "if in doubt, replace it".


You don't weigh them against each other. Items are generally inspect or replace at x miles or y period of time, whichever comes first. This is what you need to do to keep the car within factory tolerances. Go outside of that range and you become a "test driver", which may not be an issue, but it could be for certain parts...

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    Not to mention that "test driving" an overdue timing belt on an interference engine (which I believe most Honda engines are) can very quickly lead to test driving an new/rebuilt engine at much greater cost than a timing belt change. Jun 20, 2012 at 20:24
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    What about the water pump? Deteriorating rubber parts are always an issue, but replacing water pump at 50k seems like a good way to put some extra coin in mechanic’s purse.
    – theUg
    Jun 24, 2012 at 20:25
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    Does Honda say to replace the water pump? I'm not familiar with any makes that have specified water pump replacements. Normally it's a replace on failure device. While by no means failureproof, they can last a LOOOONG time. I replaced one of mine at 180,000 miles just due to a friend who was familiar with that model saying that he normally has to replace them at around 150,000 on that model... Jun 25, 2012 at 14:57
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    Depending on the location of the water pump, some manufacturers always say R&R when the timing belt is off, because if it fails it can take the timing belt with it. That and it will require removing the timing belt again to replace it (which can be removed but put back in place again, unless it gets contaminated).
    – Nick
    Aug 3, 2012 at 1:15

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