A timing belt makes noise if it’s damaged or not installed properly. A damaged timing belt can make a ticking noise. Also, if the belt is not properly tensioned, it can make unusual squeaking or slapping noise. Furthermore, a broken pulley bearing can cause grinding noise coming from the timing belt area as well.
Depending on the type of sound, you may get an idea of what part of the timing drive system is faulty. Read this article and know why do timing belts make noise and how to fix it.
Do Timing Belts Make Noise?
A timing belt does not make a noise when the belt is in a good condition and installed correctly.
However, if something is wrong with the timing belt and its relative components, the belt can make noise. For example, when the timing belt is frayed or the tensioner pulley is damaged.
Any noise from the timing belt is an indication of a problem. Depending on the faulty part or the problem, the sound can vary.
Read the next segment to know why your timing belt is making noise.
Troubleshooting Timing Belt With Noise Identification
Here’s a quick overview of some common timing belt noises with their reasons and solutions:
|Timing Belt Ticking Noise||Worn out timing belt||Replace the timing belt|
|Timing Belt Ticking Noise||Low engine oil level||Refill the engine oil|
|Timing Belt Squeaking Noise||Timing belt is too tight|
Damaged tensioner pulley
Dirt or oil in the timing belt
|Adjust the timing belt tension correctly|
Replace the tensioner pulley
Clean the timing belt
|Timing Belt Grinding Noise||Damaged pulley bearings||Replace the bearings|
|Timing Belt Chirping Sound||Misaligned cam timing||Re-align the cam timing|
|Timing Belt Whirring Noise||Misaligned camshaft timing|
Loose timing cover
Timing belt is too tight
|Align the camshaft timing correctly |
Tighten the timing cover bolts
Correctly tension the timing belt
|Timing Belt Knocking Sound||Timing belt is too loose|
Worn out tensioner pulley
|Adjust the timing belt tension|
Replace the tensioner pulley
Most noise can be fixed by properly aligning the timing belt and adjusting the tension of the belt. However, sometimes you may have to replace the timing belt.
And, if you’re a novice in mechanic work, you might get confused between a timing belt and a chain. If you ride a Subaru Outback, this piece explains whether it comes with a timing belt or a chain.
Why Do Timing Belts Make Noise? Reasons & Solutions
If you are having trouble identifying what type of noise the timing belt is making, go through the following reasons. These common reasons are responsible for unusual noise from the timing belt.
Reason 1: The Timing Belt Is Worn Out
If the timing belt is worn out, torn, or missing teeth, you may notice a ticking noise coming from the timing belt area.
Solution: Replace the Timing Belt
Follow this procedure to inspect and replace the timing belt.
- Adjustable Wrench
- Socket set
- New timing belt
- Don’t touch the engine until it’s cooled down. After shutting down the car, let it sit for a while to allow the engine to cool.
- Don’t forget to disconnect the negative battery cable from the car’s battery to prevent any electrical hazard.
- If you are not experienced with auto repair, it is recommended that you have a professional mechanic perform the work.
Step 1: Remove the serpentine belt, outer crankshaft pulley, and other engine components.
Step 2: Remove the timing cover bolts.
Step 3: Mark the position of the timing belt and the crankshaft and camshaft pulleys with the cylinder head or engine block.
Step 4: Loosen the timing belt tensioner.
Step 5: Check the timing belt for visible damage. If the belt is damaged, replace it.
Step 6: Install the new timing belt ensuring proper alignment.
Step 7: Re-tension the timing belt using the tensioner.
Here’s a video that will help you check and adjust the proper tension of the timing belt.
Step 8: Reassemble all the components that were removed.
Step 9: Reconnect the negative battery cable.
After changing the timing belt, the ticking noise should be gone. Make sure to replace the timing belt after the interval suggested by the manufacturer (1).
Reason 2: Improper Timing Belt Tension
If the timing belt is too tightly adjusted, it will create excessive friction with the pulley. As a result, you will hear a squeaking or whirring noise from the timing belt area when the engine runs.
On the other hand, if the timing belt is adjusted too loose, it will keep hitting the relative components like the pulleys or timing cover, while rotating. In this case, you will hear a slapping or knocking noise from the timing belt.
Solution: Adjust the Timing Belt Tension
You have to remove the timing cover and identify if the timing belt is properly tensioned or not. Follow steps 1-2 and steps 7-9 of the changing a timing belt process mentioned above.
Reason 3: Misaligned Camshaft/Crankshaft Timing
When the belt is misaligned, it can’t rotate the camshaft and crankshaft with proper synchronization. As a result, you will hear chirping noises coming from the engine.
Solution: Realign Camshaft/Crankshaft Timing
You have to align the crankshaft and camshaft pulleys correctly with the timing belt. The following instructions will help you with that.
Step 1: Remove the timing belt by following steps 1-4 from the timing belt changing process.
Step 2: There are timing marks on the camshaft and crankshaft pulleys, locate those. These marks are used to ensure that the camshaft and crankshaft are properly timed. And also, these ensure that the valves are opening and closing at the correct times in relation to the pistons.
Step 3: Rotate the crankshaft with a socket until the timing mark is aligned with the top dead center (TDC) mark on the engine block. The TDC mark is usually located on the cylinder head.
Step 4: Check the position of the camshaft pulley. The camshaft pulley should be in the correct position relative to the crankshaft pulley based on the timing marks. Rotate the camshaft with a socket to align it with the crankshaft.
Step 5: Once the pulleys are aligned with the timing marks, you can install the timing belt. Make the timing belt properly seated on the pulleys.
Step 6: Adjust the belt tension following step 7 here.
When the timing belt is aligned properly, it will stop causing the chirping noise.
Reason 4: Worn-Out Tensioner Pulley
Worn-out tensioner pulley is also a reason for unusual noises coming from the timing belt. If the tensioner pulley is broken or worn out, it can’t correctly adjust the tension of the timing belt.
And when the timing belt is too tight or too loose, it makes unusual noises. Timing belt tensioner noise includes squeaking, whirring, or knocking.
Solution: Replace the Tensioner Pulley
Access the timing belt tensioner by removing the required engine components. Follow steps 1-4 here. Once the timing belt area is exposed, inspect the tensioner pulley for any visible damage. If the pulley is worn out, replace it.
The following video will help you with the replacement process.
Reason 5: Damaged Bearings
If the bearings of camshaft pulleys, crankshaft pulleys, or other components are broken or worn out, you will hear a timing belt grinding noise or clunking noise. Due to a lack of proper lubrication, bearings can make this noise as well.
This noise occurs as the bearing can’t efficiently rotate the pulleys when the timing belt rotates.
Solution: Replace the Bearings
Make sure the engine oil is at the proper level. Change the engine oil after every manufacturer-required interval (2).
If the oil change doesn’t help, you need to replace the pulley bearings to fix the timing belt bearing noise. Changing the bearings is a complex process, it’s recommended to have it done at a mechanic shop.
Reason 6: Oil or Dirt on The Timing Belt
Due to oil exposure in the timing belt, it keeps slipping from the crankshaft pulley while rotating. This causes the timing belt to make a squeaking noise.
Moreover, when the timing belt has accumulated excessive dirt, it creates more friction with the pulleys. You will also hear a squeaking or squealing noise from the timing belt for this reason.
SolutionInspect the timing belt for any dirt or oil. If the belt is dirty or oily, clean it. You need to have the following tools ready to clean the belt:
- Adjustable wrench
- Denatured alcohol
Follow these steps to clean the timing belt.
Step 1: Remove the timing belt following steps 1-4 here.
Step 2: Use detergent and water to clean off the dirt and debris from the timing belt.
Step 3: Wipe the timing belt dry.
Step 4: If there is any oil on the timing belt, you need to use denatured alcohol to remove it. Motor oil is stubborn and doesn’t go away with detergent without leaving residue. Spray a few drops of denatured alcohol on the oily belt and wait for half a minute.
Step 5: Wipe off the belt with a washcloth.
[Caution: Denatured alcohol is extremely flammable. So make sure you wipe it off completely. And don’t reinstall the timing belt until the belt is completely dry.]
Step 6: Follow steps 6-9 here, to reinstall the timing belt.
Reason 7: Low Engine Oil Level
A lack of engine oil can cause a distinctive ticking noise coming from the tension belt area. This noise occurs as the camshaft pulleys, crankshaft pulleys, and other pulleys are not properly lubricated.
SolutionCheck the engine oil level and refill the tank to its optimum capacity mentioned in the owner’s manual.
Reason 8: Loose Timing Cover
When the timing cover is loose, it keeps sucking air inside the timing belt area. As a result, you will hear a hissing or whirring sound. Also, when the timing cover is loose, it vibrates and creates a whining noise.
Check if the timing cover bolts are properly tightened. If not, tighten them with a compatible wrench. If the bolts are damaged, replace them.
Summary:The timing belt will make unusual noise if the timing belt is worn out, the belt alignment is misadjusted and there is no proper belt tension. Moreover, problems with other relevant components of the timing belts such as damaged pulley bearing or tensioner pulley can cause this noise.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Bad Timing Belt?
If the timing belt is bad, the check engine light will be on, there will be excess emission and the engine will overheat. Moreover, you will hear unusual ticking noises from the timing belt and the engine will misfire frequently. In extreme cases, the engine won’t even start.
Is A Timing Belt Issue Serious?
Yes, a timing belt issue is serious. If the timing belt is broken, it can cause severe damage to an interference engine. Also, because of the timing belt issues, the car will face difficulty starting or idling.
Can You Drive With a Noisy Timing Chain?
You can drive with a noisy timing chain but it’s not recommended. A noisy driving chain indicates a problem with the timing drive system, for example, a worn-out or misaligned timing chain. Driving the car in this situation can cause poor engine performance and even severe damage to the engine.
Now you know when do timing belts make noise. If you notice any unusual noise coming from the timing drive system area, address it immediately. Make sure you inspect and replace the timing belt after every interval recommended for your car.
That’s it for today. Hope you can fix the noise problem easily. All the best and goodbye!