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I bought a 2002 Volvo S60 T2.4 with 103K miles. My mechanic noticed that the 105K service is coming up, and told me that the timing belt is supposed to be replaced either at that service or after ten years, whichever comes first. In this case that would have been 2012, but I don't know if this was actually done or not. My mechanic said there was no easy way to tell since the timing belt is hard to get at so it would involve taking apart much of the engine.

The person I bought the car from only had it for a couple of years, so they wouldn't have been the one doing this repair. They didn't know if the previous owner had had it done, but they described that person as "exceptionally diligent"; I asked if they could contact the previous owner but they said they had no way of doing so. I got a CarFax report on the car which lists service history. The only relevant entry seems to be in 2013: "Vehicle serviced - Recommended maintenance performed - Maintenance inspection completed - 45,000 mile service performed - Tire condition and pressure checked - Exterior lights checked". Recommended maintenance at that point would have included changing the timing belt, so this seems to suggest it was changed, but it doesn't actually say that. The shop listed as having performed the service appears to have gone out of business, so I can't contact them to ask. Also, the car had pretty low mileage (45K) at that point, so maybe the owner didn't think it was necessary.

Also relevant is that I may be moving in a few months and may or may not keep the car, but can't be sure yet. Since this car may not end up being a long term investment I definitely want to avoid expensive unnecessary repairs. But having recently been in a car crash in which injury was only avoided by extreme good luck, I'm very wary of the risk of driving with a possibly worn timing belt which might snap at any point. And I suppose if I do sell it, I might get a better price with a new belt.

Is there any way to find out whether the belt was replaced? Should I replace it in any case? What would you do?

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If you have no documentation, and there's no sticker in the engine bay saying that the timing belt has been replaced, then it's safer to assume that it hasn't been replaced. You may not get any more money by selling the car with a new timing belt, but it will definitely be easier to sell.

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