Can A Broken Timing Belt Cause No Spark? [Let’s Find Out!]

Yes, a broken timing belt can cause a no-spark issue. As the spark depends on the ignition system that works as long as the system gets power. The Spark system is integrated with a crankshaft so the system knows when to spark and when not to. So a broken timing belt will affect the spark in an internal combustion system.

It’s normal to ask, can a broken timing belt cause No Spark? Well, let’s check the situation when there’s a possibility of a no-spark issue and what other factors can be behind it.

Can a Broken Timing Belt Cause No Spark?

A broken belt can cause no spark issue. Timing term is used to describe how an engine’s combustion cycle takes place. Problems like poor engine performance can result from timing issues.

A broken timing belt disrupts the ignition system timing, resulting in no spark. The ignition system is responsible for generating and delivering the spark that ignites the fuel in the engine. The spark plug will be fired at the wrong time if the ignition system timing is off. 

Fuel delivery systems can also be disrupted because of wrong timing. Fuel not delivered to the engine at the proper time can prevent the spark plug from igniting.

But the timing belt is only one part of the ignition system. So there might be numerous other reasons behind this issue. 


Broken timing belt can cause no spark issues. But it may not be the only reason behind a no spark.
Can A Broken Timing Belt Cause No Spark Infographic

Signs of A Broken Timing Belt 

Check whether your timing belt is exhibiting any of these symptoms before assuming it is faulty :

  1. Ticking or clicking noise  
  2. Unable to turn your engine on
  3. Possible oil leak
  4. More exhaust smoke
  5. Unusual RPMs

How to Replace the Broken Timing Belt?

The water pump is usually located in the belt drive line in the latest car models. So it’s best to replace the water pump along with the timing belt.

Even if the water pump is not broken, problems could arise within the lifetime of the new belt. It is therefore recommended to change them both at once. However, you need to have a proper understanding of these components to repair the timing belt and water pump. 

If you don’t have the proper knowledge, we suggest leaving it to the experts.

Required Tools to Replace Timing Belt and Water Pump

You will need the following equipment to change the timing belt

  1. Socket wrench set
  2. Screwdrivers
  3. Rubber gloves
  4. Timing belt
  5. Water pump
  6. Coolant
  7. Drain pan
  8. Ratchet
  9. Gasket & Sealant

Before we move on to the main steps we need to ensure there’s no possibility of electrical accidents. Using a wrench remove the negative battery cable from the battery terminal. Now carefully remove the negative cable from the terminal and set it aside.

Step 1: Remove Serpentine Belt

The timing belt is protected by the timing belt cover. In order to remove the timing belt cover you need to remove the serpentine belt first. Because the serpentine belt is located on top of the timing belt cover.

Use a socket wrench to loosen the tensioner screw. Check if there are any other pulleys on the timing belt cover. This may vary depending on the car model. You need to remove these as well before you can remove the timing cover.

Step 2: Remove Timing Cover

The timing cover keeps the timing belt and water pump secured. Before you can access the timing belt you need to remove a couple more screws. Use the socket wrench to remove these as well.

You can mark these screws and their respective places using a marker. This will make it easier to reinstall them.

Step 3: Loose Belt Tension & Remove Old Timing Belt

Now that you can access the timing belt, first you need to loosen its tension. To do that, use a ratchet and turn the bolt of the tensioner pulley counterclockwise. The timing belt can now be easily removed.

Step 4: Remove Water Pump

Next, you need to remove the water pump. First, keep a drain pan underneath the water pump. Remove the mounting bolts that hold the water pump in place using a wrench. You also need to remove the clamps from the hose which circulates the coolant through the water pump.

Step 5: Install a New Water Pump & Refill Coolant Reservoir

Before installing the new water pump, you need to replace the old gasket. Because it usually gets damaged when the water pump is removed. Scrape out the worn-out gasket using a flat-head screwdriver and replace it with a new one. 

Apply an even bead of sealant on the edge and wipe off any excess sealant before putting the water pump on. Tighten the screws to the manufacturer’s specified torque and re-attach the hose. Now the reservoir for the cooling system must be entirely filled. Remove the top of the reservoir and fill it with coolant.

Step 6: Install New Timing Belt 

Now you need to install the timing belt with the crankshaft and camshaft. Check the timing marks on the crankshaft and camshaft and align them properly while installing. 

Ensure the pulley alignment is maintained while doing this. Follow the picture above to clearly understand the placement.

Step 7: Adjust Timing Belt Tension 

You need to adjust the timing belt tension now. This pulley tension can be different depending on the vehicle model, so check your service manual before adjusting it.

Rotate the spring-loaded tensioner pulley bolt clockwise to tighten the belt. Keep rotating till the belt is tightened according to the manufacturer’s recommended tension. To check the tension using a tension gauge, follow the video below:

Step 8: Re-check the Tension and Coolant Level

Now, reconnect the negative battery cable and run the engine for 5 to 10 minutes with the coolant reservoir cap off. This will eliminate any air in the cooling system. After shutting the engine off, check the coolant level and top it off if necessary.

Also, check the belt tension again. If you find any mismatch in the tension, follow step 7 and adjust accordingly.

Step 9: Reinstall the Belt Cover &  the Serpentine Belt

Replace the timing belt cover and other accessories in their respective places. Follow the marks you made in step 2 to put these accessories in their places.

Ensuring the right use of a timing belt is important after you install it. Make sure you don’t use it to make gear teeth as timing belts are not strong enough to handle pressure like gears.

What Factors Can Cause No Spark?

Even though your broken timing belt is causing any spark plug-related issues, other factors might be behind this. Let’s check the factors behind a ‘No Spark’ issue (1

  1. Spark plugs that are clogged are the most typical cause of no spark. Carbon, oil, and gasoline deposits can accumulate on the electrode, blocking the ignition of a spark.
  • Spark plug electrodes that are worn out can no longer spark, especially in older automobiles with a lot of mileage.
  • Without the ignition coil working properly, the spark plugs won’t have enough power to operate and it can result in no spark. 
  • Corroded or broken distributor caps can also create this issue. The distributor cap disperses sparks to all the sparkplugs; if this distribution is hampered, then sparks plugs won’t be able to generate any spark.
  • If the distributor rotor inside the cap is damaged, the distributor cap won’t disperse any spark.
  • Wires between the spark plugs and the ignition systems can quickly get loose or corroded. This can create a loss of connection and the possibility of no spark issue.
  • If the crankshaft sensor malfunctions and fails to alert the system about the spark firing time, it can easily create a no-spark issue. The firing time won’t match the required time, so it will not create a spark.
  • Malfunctioning ECU can cause no spark issues as well. This is because ECU controls the ignition system. So if it is not working properly, it can prevent any spark from firing in the first place.
  • The electrode and tip of the spark plug must maintain a specific gap (usually 0.7-0.8mm) to create a spark and function properly. The spark risks being faulty if this gap is too narrow or too wide.
  • Detonation and pre-ignition can occur if the wrong heat range spark plug is used in your engine. This may result in engine damage and a possible No Spark issue.

All of these are behind a No Spark issue. If you are facing any of these or suspect any of these components are failing, it’s best to consult a mechanic and get these parts fixed or replaced as soon as possible. 


Worn-out spark plugs, faulty ignition coil, broken distributor cap, etc, are usually behind no spark issues. It is best to replace them as soon as possible.

Maintenance Tips to Keep Your Sparks Plug from Failing

Your car may experience various issues if spark plugs do not fire properly. Here are some recommendations to help stop your spark plug from failing to light.

  • Always make sure you are using the correct spark plug for your specific car. Spark plugs come in a wide variety of sorts, and each type is created for a particular engine.
  • Check the gap between the electrode and the plug tip so that it can function properly. You can verify the gap using a filler gauge and make necessary adjustments. But for iridium spark plugs, this isn’t necessary. 
  • Always keep your spark plugs clear of debris. You can soak them in a spark plug cleaner and use a wire brush to clean the debris off. For iridium spark plugs, use a nylon brush instead, as a wire brush can damage the iridium tip. 
  • You need to replace your spark plugs regularly even though there isn’t any visible damage done to them. Your owner’s manual will have a specific time recommended for spark plug renewal.

Hopefully, these tips will keep your spark plug working for a long time without causing any serious issues. Additionally, it’s best to know the right way of cleaning and maintaining the timing belt. Although some people clean the timing belt with brake cleaner, it’s not recommended for some harmful chemicals in it.


What Happens If A Timing Belt Suddenly Wears Out?

The first thing you can expect is a possibility of a misfire as broken timing belt will affect the engine timing. As the belt is damaged, it will abruptly slip and cause the valves to malfunction, which means that the valves will close and open at the wrong time. Of course, the engine is bound to just shut down after this.

Why Does A Spark Plug Fail To Ignite?

Engine oil leaking into the combustion chamber is one of the leading causes of spark plug issues. The spark plug’s tip may get oily and unclean and sometimes spill oil over the combustion chamber. This can easily result in early failure. 

Is It Possible to Drive a Car with A Faulty Spark Plug?

Although driving a car with a faulty spark plug is still possible, it’s not recommended. A misfire indicates various engine problems. In addition, the engine damage could worsen over time if you keep driving without addressing the issue.


That was our take on can a broken belt cause no spark. However, broken belts won’t cause any issues with the spark. It’s best to replace them as soon as possible because they can easily damage the engine.

For no spark issue, it’s best to take it to a mechanic if you are not well equipped with it. Always check for any leaks or signs of a broken timing belt & no spark before driving a car.

Until next time!

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Aaron Byrne

Hi, Aaron Byrne here. I'm an expert automotive mechanic with 10 years of experience. I work on engine parts especially timing belts for their repair, maintenance, and replacement.

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Talha Atta

Talha Atta, a Mechanical Engineer and experienced technical content writer and editor at with a passion for the automotive industry.