Do Timing Belts Stretch Over Time? Why Or Why Not? 

Yes, timing belts get stretched over time. However, under normal conditions, this stretch is insignificant. A timing belt made of rubber can stretch more quickly under special conditions. These conditions include rapid temperature fluctuations, engine overheating, and excess belt tension. 

This article will describe how do timing belts stretch over time. Moreover, a stretch timing belt must be measured and, if needed, replaced immediately.

Do Timing Belts Stretch Over Time?

Yes, timing belts can stretch over time. As the timing belt keeps rotating, it is exposed to friction and heat. Over time this friction and heat will make the timing belt stretched. 

However, the rate at which they stretch is very low in normal conditions. A timing belt lasts around 60,000 to 100,000 miles of driving, depending on the car model, driving severity and engine type. Therefore, manufacturers will recommend an interval for replacing the timing belt (1).

The timing belt is typically made with rubber. Moreover, corded fibers are reinforced with rubber and fabric covering to protect the teeth. All these materials are subjected to tear and wear. So, It is common for timing belts to wear out. 

What Causes The Timing Belt To Stretch Faster?

Timing belts can get stretched faster than they should for three reasons that I’ve explained below. 

The Belt Adjustment Is Too Tight

So, what happens if timing belt is too tight? If the belt tension is excessively high, it can cause the belt to stretch more and wear quickly. 

When the timing belt adjustment is too tight, the belt will experience more pressure and friction. As a result, the belt may stretch and wear faster.

Moreover, if the timing belt is adjusted too tight, it can affect the other relative components. For example, it will create more pressure on the crankshaft and camshaft pulleys/gears resulting in damage like bending of pulley, bending of shaft, and early wear of bearings. 

Overheated Engine

Your car engine can get overheated for many reasons. For example, a damaged cooling system, faulty radiator, broken thermostat, or a defective water pump.

Speaking of a defective pump, you may be needing to change the water pump over time. But can you change the water pump without a timing belt? Get the answer from the linked source.

Getting back straight to the point, an overheated engine makes the timing belt get hotter and thus making it soft and easier to stretch, Timing belt is made of rubber or related materials that get soft at elevated temperatures. So an overheated engine makes the belt stretch faster. 

Low-Quality Timing Belt

If you use a low-quality timing belt in your car engine, the belt will stretch faster. Cheap timing belts are made with less durable materials that are likely to get stretched quickly under the pressure and heat of the engine.  


Generally, the timing belt doesn’t get stretched too much. However, reasons like rapid fluctuation in temperature, tight belt adjustment, and engine overheating stretch the timing belt faster. 

Can You Drive A Car With A Stretched Timing Belt?

Technically, you can drive with a stretched-out timing belt. However, it’s not recommended. 

The rotation of the timing belt synchronizes the camshaft with crankshaft of the engine. It is also responsible for controlling the opening and closing of the inlet and outlet valves.

If the timing belt is stretched, it will reduce the synchronization accuracy, and the engine will not run properly. Furthermore, the stretched timing belt will lead to premature wear, which can cause it to break itself and the other components associated with it. 

Therefore, driving a car with a stretched timing belt is not recommended.


You should not drive the car with a stretched timing belt. 

How To Tell If Timing Belt Is Stretched?

When the belt is stretched, the engine’s timing will be off. A stretched timing belt can be responsible for different engine problems. That includes – 

  1. Difficulty starting the engine
  2. Unusual noises
  3. Irregular fluctuation in the RPM meter
  4. Lower fuel economy
  5. Excessive emission
  6. Engine overheating
  7. Engine misfiring
  8. Rough idling 

If you are facing these symptoms, check if the timing belt is stretched. 

How To Tell If Timing Belt Is Stretched Infographic

How To Check If The Timing Belt Is Stretched? 

Since the change is too small to measure, you can’t possibly measure if the timing belt is stretched with a ruler or tape. However, there are two ways to measure the stretchiness of the belt. 

Visual Inspection

If the belt is worn out and torn, there is more possibility that the belt is stretched as well. Inspect the condition of the belt and replace it if necessary. 

Tension Checking

An effective way to identify whether the timing belt is stretched is by checking the belt’s tension.

First, adjust the tension of the timing belt. Then measure the tension carefully. You can do this by using two methods: the sonic tension and the plunger. 

It is recommended to consult a professional to do this test. However, if you still want to perform the test yourself, the following video might help. 

If your timing belt is not stretched, the tension should be correct as per the manufacturer’s recommendation. However, If your belt tension is still loose even after you have engaged the tension pulley all the way, that means the belt is stretched. 

A stretched timing belt must be replaced immediately to avoid further damage to the engine. In fact, stay as careful as possible while using the belt because even oil can damage the belt so now you can guess how vulnerable the belts are.


If your car shows any timing belt stretched symptoms, it’s worth measuring the belt for stretching. If the belt is stretched, replace it immediately. Moreover, fix the problems that are causing the belt to stretch. 


Does A Timing Chain Stretch Over Time?

The timing chain can stretch over time. This is because there are hundreds of rivets and rollers in the timing chain. Over time, these rivets and rollers move slightly, resulting in the timing chain stretching a bit. 

How Much Does A Timing Belt Replacement Cost? 

On average, a timing belt replacement can cost between $500 and $1,000. But, of course, the cost will vary based on your local labor costs, car model, and whether other components need to be replaced. 

Will A Timing Belt Last 10 Years?

No, a timing belt won’t last 10 years on any car. A timing belt can last around 4-5 years, depending on the car model and driving routine. After that, it will get torn or stretched and not operate as it should. 


Now you should have a complete understanding of Do timing belts stretch over time or not. If you can reduce the causes for which the timing belt stretches faster, you can keep the belt fine for a longer time. 

If you have a stretched timing belt, don’t delay and replace it quickly. 

That’s all for today. Enjoy the day!

1 thought on “Do Timing Belts Stretch Over Time? Why Or Why Not? ”

  1. I appreciate that you mentioned that if you use a low-quality timing belt in timing belt pulleys, the belt would stretch more quickly. This is why investing in a good one is essential if you want to get the most out of your money. I’ll definitely share this with my uncle so he can keep it in mind as he’s discussed utilizing one for his work. I’ll look into suppliers that might be able to assist him in getting one. I appreciate you sharing!


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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.