Can Timing Belt Affect Power Steering? [Explained]

No, a timing belt cannot affect the power steering but a serpentine belt can. The timing belt controls the synchronization of the crankshaft and the camshaft. If the timing belt stops working, the engine will stop as well. As a result, all other components including the serpentine belt will also stop working. And eventually, the power steering will get affected as the serpentine belt controls it.

This is just a quick idea. Continue reading to find out more.

How do Timing Belts Affect Power Steering?

The timing belt is the belt that connects and synchronizes the timing between the camshaft and crankshaft.   

Now, to understand the effect of the timing belts on the power steering, we have to understand how they are connected. 

As you can see in image 1, the crankshaft directly connects to the camshaft via the timing belt. As per image 2, the camshaft is connected to the power steering wheel via the serpentine belt. 

Therefore, if the timing belt stops or breaks, it will stop the crankshaft, eventually slowing down or affecting the power steering pump. 

In the following section, we went deeper regarding how a failing/failed timing belt can affect power steering. 

Case 1: If The Timing Belt is Not In Good Condition

Timing belts can be damaged in several ways. They include stretched timing belts, worn-out timing belts, and wear and tear.

To understand how these failures affect power steering, have a look at the charts below. 

  1. When the timing belt is damaged (wear and tear, stretched, worn-out) it results in camshaft-crankshaft desynchronization
  2. If the crankshaft and camshaft are not synchronized, the crankshaft turns slowly or jitters.
  3. The crankshaft pulley is also connected to the serpentine belt. And if the crankshaft rotation becomes slower, that serpentine belt’s movement likewise diminishes.
  4. Due to the sluggish motion of the serpentine belt, the power steering pump pulley’s rotation also gets slower. This is because the serpentine belt aids the power steering pump pulley’s rotation. 
  5. The power steering system can’t work properly because of insufficient turning in the power steering pulley.
  6. Finally, this causes the power steering pump to come off or stretch out, potentially leading to failure

Case 2: If The Timing Belt is Broken and Out of Order

If the timing belt is broken or out of order, then it has an obvious effect on the timing belt. Let’s have a look at the chart below to understand how a broken timing belt affects power steering.

  1. When the timing belt breaks or is out of order, the engine turns off
  2. If the engine turns off/stops working, the crankshaft can’t turn the serpentine belt which drives the power steering by rotating its pulley
  3. As a result of the bad power steering system, the steering wheel becomes heavier to move

Based on the discussion above; you can see that different types of timing belt failure can cause different issues with power steering. Therefore, it shows that the timing belt has a strong relationship with power steering, albeit indirectly.

You may notice your car engine jerking when the timing belt is faulty.

Various types of timing belt failures require different types of fixes. We’ll cover that below for your convenience.   (1)


Timing belts do not directly affect power steering systems. But if the timing belt stops working, the serpentine belt will stop turning too. As a result, the power steering system won’t receive the necessary force required.

How to Fix the Damaged Timing Belt?

Based on the types of timing belt failure, you need different types of solutions. As we’ve already shown in the table, several types of timing belt failure affect the power steering. And all of them can hamper your vehicle’s power steering.

So, have a look at the quick solution table below. 

Failure type SymptomSolution
Timing belt is stretched Strange noise from the engine,misfiring,engine overheating,and engine lights onAdjust the timing belt tension
The timing belt is worn outPerformance loss,slip even after proper tensioning.Replace the timing belt
The timing belt has broken down or failedThe engine will stop completelyReplace the timing belt

Timing Belt is Stretched

Stretched timing belt is one kind of timing belt failure. There are various ways to know if your vehicle’s timing belt is stretched.

Symptoms of Stretched Timing Belts

If your timing belt is stretched, the timing belt will slip due to the loose tension. And there are a few signs that indicate the timing belt is slipping:

  1. The engine may run poorly or misfire
  2. The engine can stall for slippage
  3. Having trouble starting the engine
  4. Power steering belt noise when turning (A knocking or slapping sound)
  5. Overheating the engine because of the failure to control the coolant flow.
  6. Check engine lights may sometimes appear.

Solution: Adjust the Timing Belt Tension

The best solution to the stretched or worn-down timing belt is adjusting the tension. Here’s how to adjust the power steering belt.

Tools Needed:

  • Measurement Scale
  • Pressure tension gauge (plunger)
  • A wrench set ( A 16mm wrench can be used for most of the tensioner bolts)

Now, follow the steps below. 

Step 1: To begin, you must determine the proper tension for your timing belt. Consult your vehicle’s service manual to determine the correct timing belt tension. This will vary depending on the brand and model of your vehicle and the type of timing belt you are using.

Step 2: Locate the tensioner pulley which you’ll need to tension the timing belt. 

Step 3: Turn the tensioner pulley bolt clockwise to tighten the belt and vice-versa. 

Step 4: Find adjacent pulleys where the timing belt remains straight and measure the belt span. To measure the belt span, use a measurement scale or a tape measure and find the distance between the centers of the two adjacent pulleys.

The “L (Length)” of the following picture indicates the belt span.

Step 5: Once you’ve measured the belt span, set the bottom “O ring” of the plunger according to the found measure. Then set the top “O-ring” to 0.

For example, if the belt span is 10”, set the bottom “O ring” of the plunger to 10” or 25.4 cm and the top “O-ring” to 0.

Source: Packerdonline

Step 6: Now, place the scale on the selected pulleys and put the plunger in the middle of the timing belt beside the scale. Then, press the plunger by the rubber tip until the bottom “O-ring’s” bottom part aligns with the bottom side of the scale.

Source: Youtube 

Step 7: The top “O-ring” of the plunger should go a bit higher once you press the plunger according to the pressure applied. Note the reading of the bottom side of the top “O-ring” and cross-check the reading with your user manual.

Source: Youtube 

Step 8: Repeat steps 3, 6 and 7 until you get the desired belt tension according to the user manual.

[Pro tip: Inspect your timing belt every 5000 to 10000 miles to ensure it’s in proper condition]

Timing Belt is Worn Out

Another type of timing belt failure is worn out. The teeth can be worn out when a timing belt is used for 60,000 to 100,000 miles (depending on the vehicle type). For this reason, timing belts can misalign even with proper tension.

Symptoms of Worn-out Timing Belts

You must understand by seeing the timing belt that it’s worn out. However, some other symptoms indicate that a timing belt is worn out or failing:

  1. Engine misfires or runs poorly
  2. Decreased fuel efficiency
  3. Loud noises coming from the engine. Note that you should never put deodorant on a squeaky timing belt. Details are on the linked source.
  4. Illuminated check engine light
  5. Difficulty starting the vehicle
  6. Smoke or steam coming from the engine
  7. Engine overheating

Solution: Replace the Timing Belt

You just need to replace the timing belt if it misaligns because of worn-down teeth. A timing belt replacement is a complicated process, so we recommend contacting a professional. It’ll cost around $300 to $600, including the labor cost.

Timing Belt has Broken or Failed

If the timing belt is broken or failed, the engine will be stopped completely. So, no symptoms need mentioning.

Solution: Replace the Timing Belt 

The only solution for the broken or failed timing belt is replacing it. As we mentioned before, timing belt replacement is complicated, so it’s better to contact an automobile professional.


Failed timing belts can have various bad effects on the power steering system. If your timing belt fails, you must replace it immediately to avoid damaging your power steering or, in extreme cases, the engine.

Can You Drive Without a Timing Belt?

No, you can’t drive your vehicle without the timing belt. A timing belt ensures that the engine’s valves open and close at the right time by synchronizing the rotation of the crankshaft and camshaft. The engine will immediately stop if the timing belt fails or breaks while the vehicle operates.

In some cases, this can result in serious engine damage, which may require expensive repairs, such as replacing the entire engine. 

What Else Can Affect Power Steering?

You may have issues with your power steering system. Several factors, except the timing belt, can also affect the power steering systems. 

Here are some other causes of power steering problems besides the timing belt.

Factors that affect power steeringSolution
Low power steering fluid levelsFill the power steering fluid and measure the level with a dipstick and ensure that the necessary fluid level is available (not too high or low)
Contaminated power steering fluidDrain out the contaminated fluid and refill the fluid by using a filter. 
Leaks in the power steering hydraulic pumpReplace the power steering pump gasket/seal.
Air in the power steering pumpBleed the power steering system, then check if there is any leak in the pump.
Misaligned power steering components Align the components correctly, and check the system for any other issues that may have caused the misalignment
Faulty power steering pressure switchReplace the pressure switch with a new one.


It is not just the timing belt that affects the power steering system, but some other factors as well. Be sure to determine what’s causing your power steering problem and take the necessary actions.

Power Steering Maintenance Guide

The timing belt should be maintained and replaced according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Maintenance guidelines for power steering systems include:

  1. Regularly check the fluid level and top it off as needed
  2. A power steering fluid flush is typically recommended for vehicles every 40,000-80,000 miles, although manufacturer recommendations may vary outside of this range.
  3. Repair leaks as soon as possible
  4. Replace worn or damaged components as needed
  5. Make sure you use the right type of fluid for your vehicle
  6. Remove debris from the system and keep it clean

To ensure that your vehicle’s power steering system is operating correctly, and to prevent potential problems, follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule.

Power Steering Maintenance Guide Infographic


Can a Power Steering Pump Fail Suddenly?

Yes, unfortunately, the power steering pump can fail suddenly while you are driving the vehicle. You might experience this if you suddenly put too much stress on it. Except for pump failure, this factor can cause multiple damages to the power steering system, like a broken belt and other components.

What Controls Power Steering?

An electrical motor controls the power steering system in most vehicles. The main purpose of a power steering system is to make the steering wheel easier to move. An electrical motor assists in moving the steering wheel so that it doesn’t require too much effort.

What Is the Most Common Failure in a Power Steering System?

A leak in the power steering pump or hose leak is the most common failure. This can result in a loss of power steering assist and make steering the vehicle more difficult. Regularly checking and maintaining the power steering system will prevent these failures.


This is all we’ve got about whether or not can timing belt affects power steering. Hopefully, you’ve got your answer. We recommend visiting a pro shop if you still have questions about anything.

Thanks for your patience!

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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.