Can You Lubricate Timing Belt? [Explained]

No, you can’t lubricate the timing belt because it’s made of materials that don’t require lubrication. Lubricating will cause the belt to slip off the pulleys and this can easily cause damage to the belt and engine. If the timing belt is dry or making noise, you should better inspect the belt and find out the reason and fix it accordingly.

This is just a short overview. For further detail regarding this issue, go forward. 

Why Can’t You Lubricate the Timing Belt?

You can’t lubricate the timing belt because it’s usually made of rubber and it’s designed to work without lubrication.  Moreover, using lubrication on a timing belt can cause it to slip and potentially damage the engine.

It can also cause the belt to become contaminated and wear out sooner.

What Happens If Oil Gets On The Timing Belt?

Lubricating the timing belt may lead to the following consequences:

Reduced Friction and Slippage 

One of the most serious problems that can occur when you lubricate your timing belt is reduced friction and slippage. The timing belt and the connecting pulleys need proper friction to operate efficiently. 

However, if you lubricate the timing belt, it can reduce friction due to the slippery nature of the lubricant. This can potentially cause numerous engine problems, such as engine misfires, misalignment, overheating, and unusual noises from the engine.

Shorten Belt Life 

Oil contamination can seriously impact the lifespan of your timing belt. The timing belt is made of rubber and reinforced fiber material. When it comes into contact with oil, the fiber and rubber can become weakened. 

This can cause the timing belt to snap, or even break altogether. To ensure the longevity of your timing belt, it’s important to keep it free from oil contamination.

Teeth Become Detached

One of the possible consequences of lubricating your timing belt is that it can start to lose its teeth. As we mentioned earlier, the timing belt is made of rubber and fiber material that doesn’t do well when it gets wet. 

If the timing belt is constantly exposed to liquid, it can become softened and start to slip on the pulleys because of the lubricant’s slippery nature. As a result, after a few miles of driving, you may find some timing belt teeth are completely worn down or detached. (1)

If you ever notice a bent valve and wonder whether a broken timing belt causes it, the linked page will clear your confusion.


Lubricating the timing belt can lead to friction slippage, shortened belt life, and teeth separation. Often, these cause misfires, overheating, and unusual noises. Instead of lubricating the timing belt, there are other effective solutions for eliminating squealing noises.

How to Fix Squealing Noise from Timing Belt?

The timing belt can make squealing noise due to several reasons. Therefore, we will discuss the solution based on the specific reason.

Before going into the elaboration let’s have a look at the table for a quick overview. 

Timing belt is damaged or wornReplace the timing belt
Timing belt is stretchedTighten/replace the timing belt
Timing belt tension is improperAdjust the belt tension
Tensioner pulley is damagedReplace the tensioner pulley
Timing belt is contaminatedClean the belt and the surrounding area
Timing belt is Misalignment Realign the timing belt

In the following, we describe these issues and how to resolve them.

Reason 1: Timing Belt Is Damaged or Worn

It is also possible for the timing belt to squeal due to wear or damage. Timing belts have teeth that mesh with the camshaft and crankshaft pulleys. Wearing down these teeth can cause the belt to slip and squeal.

In addition, if the timing belt is cracked or otherwise damaged, the rotation of the belt can cause a squealing sound.

In case, you notice the timing belt light comes on, consult a mechanic because this can be caused by a damaged or worn-out timing belt.

However, let’s get back to the point and go through the solution of having a damaged timing belt.

Solution: Replace the Timing Belt

Timing belt replacement includes the following steps

  • Taking the serpentine belt off
  • Taking off the timing belt cover
  • Loosening the tensioner pulley to remove the timing belt
  • Adjusting alignment & install the new timing belt
  • Adjusting the timing belt tension
  • Cross-checking the timing belt tension
  • Reassembling the parts

Remember that replacing a timing belt can be a complicated process. If you do not have the required expertise, it is recommended to seek the assistance of a professional.

However, if you are a DIY person the following video can help you to replace the timing belt.

Reason 2: Stretched Timing Belt

If the timing belt is stretched it can slip on the pulleys and miss out one or more teeth. This may cause the timing belt to squeal.

Solution: Tighten the Timing Belt Tension or Replace

The best way to get rid of the stretch timing belt is to get a new one. To replace the timing belt follow all the steps above. 

Or if only tightening is needed then follow the video below for the instruction.

Reason 3: Timing Belt isn’t Tensioned Properly 

Squealing noises from timing belts can also be caused by incorrect timing belt tension. Both relaxed and tight tension in the timing belt can cause the timing belt to squeal.

Solution: Adjust the Timing Belt Tension

If the timing belt tension is off, follow the above instruction to fix it.

Reason 4: Tensioner Pulley is Damaged

If your tensioner pulley is damaged, it won’t be able to keep the right amount of tension on the timing belt. This can cause the timing belt to slip, which might make a squeaky noise.

Visually inspect the tensioner pully. If there’s any sign of wear and tear, you need to replace it.

Solution: Replace the Tensioner Pulley

Replacing the tensioner pulley contains the following steps.

  • Locating the timing belt tensioner pulley
  • Removing the timing belt tensioner pulley
  • Installing the new timing belt tensioner pulley
  • Adjusting the timing belt tension and reassembling all the parts

For the detailed guideline to replica the timing belt tensioner pulley check out the video below.

Reason 5: Contaminated Timing Belt

The timing belt can produce a squeaking noise due to different types of contamination. If the timing belt has debris or is dirty, it won’t rotate smoothly and will cause a squealing noise.

On the other hand, oil contamination can cause the timing belt to slip as it rotates. And the consequence of the slippage might be the squeaky noise. 

Solution: Clean the Timing Belt

To clean a contaminated timing belt, follow these steps:

  • Take the timing belt off
  • Clean the timing belt 
  • Spray denatured alcohol on the timing belt 
  • Wipe cleaner and water residue
  • Re-install the timing belt

For the detailed guide regarding this issue check out the can oil damage a timing belt.

Reason 6: Misalignment

If the belt is not properly aligned on the pulleys, it can cause the belt to run unevenly, which can create noise as it rotates. 

Additionally, misalignment can cause the belt to come into contact with other components in the engine, such as the timing belt cover or the engine block, which can also create noise. 

Finally, if the belt is misaligned, it may not be properly tensioned, which can cause it to slip on the pulleys and create a squealing noise.

Solution: Realign the Timing Belt

The timing belt realignment conclude the following steps.

  • Accessing the timing belt
  • Determining the type of misalignment and adjusting
  • Realigning the timing belt
  • Cross-checking and reassembling all the parts

However, for a detailed guide you can check out the following video.


The timing belt can squeal due to various issues, such as a stretched or improperly tensioned belt, damage or wear, a damaged tensioner pulley, contamination, or misalignment. To fix the issue, the appropriate solution must be implemented, such as tightening or replacing the belt, adjusting the tension, replacing worn parts, cleaning and lubricating the belt, or realigning it. 
4 Issues with Timing Belt Noise and Solution Infographic

Can You Put WD40 on the Timing Belt?

You can’t use WD40 on the timing belt. This spray has a gummy texture that becomes sticky within a few minutes of being sprayed, and this can actually increase the chances of the timing belt breaking. Instead of relying on WD40, you should make the necessary adjustments to fix any squeaking issues with the timing belt. We already explained how to fix this issue above, so just follow those steps to solve it.


How Long Can I Drive With A Squeaky Belt?

You shouldn’t drive with a squeaky belt for too long because it can lead to problems like engine misfires, and low fuel efficiency. Once you notice the problem, you should have it fixed as soon as possible. Over two weeks of driving with a squeaky belt could lead to costly repairs.

Why Does My Belt Squeal When Idling?

A slipping belt or a damaged idler pulley usually causes a belt to squeal when idling. Squeaking can occur if the timing belt pulley cannot hold its position while the vehicle is idling. Diagnose and fix the problem as soon as possible to prevent further damage to the belt.


That’s it for your question about whether can you lubricate timing belt. Hopefully, you now have the answer you were looking for. The timing belt is a crucial part of the engine, so if you feel uncomfortable attempting the steps outlined in this article, it’s best to consult an expert for help.

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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.