Can I Use A Timing Belt To Make Gear Teeth? Answered!

No, a timing belt can be a cheap alternative as gears are expensive. However, it is not recommended to use it to make gear teeth. Steel gearing is strong and able to handle high pressure, but the timing belts are flexible and can’t handle pressure like gears. As a result, you will end up with high slippage and power loss issues. 

The teeth of both the gear and timing belt look similar. As a result, you may wonder, can I use a timing belt to make gear teeth? For a detailed explanation of this issue, keep reading this article.  

Can I Use A Timing Belt To Make Gear Teeth?

Technically, you can. Timing belts also have teeth that are similar to the gear teeth. So you can turn the timing belt over and attach it to a pulley to make gear teeth. 

However, the timing belt isn’t designed for that purpose. So, you may face various obstacles while trying to make the timing belt into one. 

Why Should You Not Use A Timing Belt To Make Gear Teeth?

You shouldn’t use timing belts as gear teeth for issues such as power loss, slippage, material type, and compatibility issues. Those reasons are given below. 

Material Isn’t Suitable

Gear teeth are typically made of metals. As the rotational power is transmitted between to metal gear itself, the teeth need to be rigid. In addition, they must be able to withstand heavy loads.

Timing belts are typically made of rubber or a rubber-like material. They are flexible and designed to transmit rotational power between two devices. However, these cannot handle high loads and can break or fail under heavy stress. And, a broken timing belt can cause issues like giving no spark.

When you use a timing belt as gear teeth, the rough friction between two gears makes the belt tear and deform faster. So, even if the timing belts seem cheaper, they will need repair often. Changing the gear teeth frequently can become costlier. 

Prone To More Slippage

When a metal gear spins, the teeth of two gears need to hold each other rigidly to avoid slippage. 

However, as mentioned above, rubber teeth are very flexible. Therefore, when you use them for gears, the teeth cannot hold onto the other firmly, leading to more gear slippage. 

As a result, your car will struggle while operating. For example, if you use a timing belt as transmission gear teeth, your car will take a long time to change gears and respond to acceleration. 

More Power Loss

Typical gear teeth have a low friction coefficient. Therefore, it provides higher efficiency requiring less power to operate (1).

However, the timing belt has a high coefficient of friction. Therefore, using it as gear teeth will require more power than actual gear teeth to operate at the same speed. 

As a result, more power loss occurs if you use a timing belt as gear teeth, especially during high torque and high-speed operation. 

Shape Compatibility Doesn’t Match

Your timing belt might not be compatible for use as a gear tooth. If you already have a gear and are trying to mesh it with another one using a timing belt, you need to consider the number of teeth. If the tooth shape of both the gears doesn’t match, the rotation won’t be accurate. 

A metal gear has special shapes (2), such as an involute curve shape. Due to this specific shape, when two gears spin, there is no gap between the gear teeth. 

However, timing belts typically come in trapezoidal, curvilinear, or modified curvilinear shapes. If you use both gears with a timing belt, the gears will reach a separation period during which no teeth will touch. One gear will only push the other again when the gap is closed.

This procedure will take more time, and as a result, the operation will be really slow. 

So, these are the problems you will face if you use a timing belt as gear teeth. 


Using timing belts as gear teeth can cause several issues. For example, power loss, fast wear and tear in the belt, and slippage during belt rotation. 
Why Should You Not Use A Timing Belt To Make Gear Teeth Infographic

Is It Worth It To Use A Timing Belt As Gear Teeth? 

Using a timing belt to make gear teeth may be possible, but it is not a recommended practice.

Timing belts are usually cheaper than gear teeth. However, as they are more prone to damage, you will need to change the gear frequently. Also, slippage and power loss will affect your car’s overall performance. 

So, using timing belts as gear teeth will not be worth it. Instead, it is best to use gear teeth specifically designed to transmit power efficiently and effectively. In addition, since timing belts are made of rubber, they can get damaged by using oil. So, be careful about what you put on the belt.

Depending on the car part, a gear will cost around $50 – $100. If you have slightly damaged gear and don’t want to replace it, try repairing it with the help of a mechanic. 

However, if you want to use a timing belt as gear teeth for other DIY projects, for example, toy gear, you can go for it. But as a car part, it’s not feasible. 


Does Timing Belt Affect Gears?

Yes, the timing belt can affect gear performance. When the timing belt is damaged, it fails to synchronize the movement of engine valves and pistons properly. So, when the engine performance is affected, changing gears and acceleration also get affected. 

What Is The Average Life Of A Timing Belt?

The average life of a timing belt is around 60,000–100,000 miles of driving, depending on the car. However, you need to use the timing belt for its actual purpose. If you use them as gear teeth, their lifespan will be much shorter. 

Why Are Timing Belts Used Instead Of Gears?

Timing belts are used instead of gears because they are more cost-effective. Another reason for using a timing belt is that it makes less noise than metal gears. 


Now you have the answer to the question, “Can I use a timing belt to make gear teeth.”  Although practically you can, and it seems like a cheaper option, you shouldn’t go for it. 

Instead, use dedicated gear teeth and follow regular maintenance to ensure it’s working fine for a long time. 

Now it’s time to go. Have a great day!

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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.