V-Belt Vs Timing Belt Vs Flat Belt: An Analogy

V belts and flat belts transmit power in various machines throught pulleys, while timing belts synchronize the timing between the camshaft and crankshaft in an overhead camshaft engine. Each type of belt has a distinct structure and is made of different materials, requiring specific pulleys and differing in durability, noise, and efficiency. Proper belt selection is important for optimal performance.

This is a short overview. Continue reading for more details.

V-Belt Vs Timing Belt Vs Flat Belt: Quick Comparison

Let’s have a look at the quick comparison table below for a primary idea. 

FeatureV-BeltTiming BeltFlat Belt
FunctionTransmits power from the engine to multiple componentsSynchronizes the rotation of the camshaft and crankshaftTransmits power between two parallel pulleys
ShapeTrapezoidal (V) shapeTeeth with a trapezoidal/curvilinear shapeFlat, rectangular shape
MaterialRubber or synthetic compounds, neoprene, and PolyurethaneRubber or synthetic compounds, neoprene,fiberglass and PolyurethaneLeather, fabric, canvas, or rubber
Applicable operationModerate torque/moderate speedHigh torque/low-speedLow torque/high-speed
Compatible Pulley typesShaft’s sheaves pulleyGrooved pulleyFlat pulley
Drive systemFriction and positive drivePositive driveFriction drive
DurabilityAround 30,000 miles 60,000 to 100,000 milesAround 90,000 miles
Noise levelLow LowHigh
Efficiency Around 95 to 98% peak efficiency Up to 98%  efficiency 98% of efficiency 
Power transmission capacity7.5 kW/inch width belt Up to 150 kW  Around 112 kW
Compatibility with engineCan be used in most engine typesTypically used in overhead cam enginesTypically used in older, flathead engines
Cost$13 to $30$100 to $350 Low to moderate

When comparing different types of engine belts, these variables to consider.

V-Belt Vs Timing Belt Vs Flat Belt: Brief Comparison

Below, we’ll compare the variable factors of V-belts, timing belts, and flat belts.


V-belts, timing belts, and flat belts all have different functions. V-belts are used to transfer power from the engine to various drive components, especially in vehicles where they connect accessory pulleys to the crankshaft. 

In contrast, timing belts, also known as synchronous belts, synchronize the timing between the engine’s camshaft and crankshaft, controlling the precise intake and exhaust of the engine’s valves and cylinders. 

Flat belts, like V-belts, transmit power from pulley to pulley, but they can only do so between parallel pulleys. On the other hand, V-belts can transmit power between both vertical and parallel pulleys. 


The shape of V-belts, timing belts, and flat belts differ significantly. V-belts are characterized by their trapezoidal, V-shaped design, which allows them to securely wedge into the horizontal grooves of the pulley, resulting in reduced slippage compared to flat belts. 

On the other hand, timing belts feature a trapezoidal/curvilinear, toothed design that fits into vertically grooved pulleys for enhanced grip. These belts tend to have similar widths and thicknesses. 

Flat belts, however, do not have any teeth or a trapezoidal shape. They are completely flat on the underside and tend to have significantly greater widths than thicknesses.


The primary material used in V-belts, timing belts, and flat belts is rubber. However, V-belts can also be made from synthetic compounds, neoprene, and polyurethane. 

Timing belts are typically made from materials such as rubber, synthetic compounds, neoprene, fiberglass, and polyurethane. 

Flat belts, on the other hand, are typically made from materials such as leather, canvas, and rubber.

Applicable Operation 

In comparison, the flat belt is capable of performing at higher circumferential speeds than both the V-belt and timing belt. 

Timing belts are designed for high-torque and low-speed applications. They have a maximum circumferential speed of 40 to 50 m/s. V-belts are designed for moderate torque and moderate speed applications with a maximum circumferential speed of 50 to 60 m/s. 

Flat belts, on the other hand, are designed for low-torque and high-speed applications. They have a plain underside structure which results in less friction with the pulley and can reach a circumferential speed of up to 80 to 100 m/s. 

It’s important to note that exceeding the maximum recommended circumferential speed for any of these belts can result in damage.

If you’d want to know what happens to your vehicle after the timing belt light comes on, you’ll get it here.

Pulley Type

The V-belt, timing belt, and flat belt all require unique pulleys for proper functioning. The V-belt is designed to be used with a shaft’s sheaves pulley, reducing slippage. 

In comparison to the other belts, the timing belt had a better fit on the grooved pulley due to its teeth fitting seamlessly into the grooves, leading to reduced slipping.

Source: Global Spec

Flat belts are designed to be used on flat pulleys, as indicated by their name.

Source: Global Spec

Drive System

When it comes to driving systems, timing belts are known for their positive drive system, which uses a series of teeth to keep the belt in place and transmit power. 

Flat belts, on the other hand, use a friction drive system, which relies on the friction between the belt and pulley to transmit power. 

V-belts use both friction and positive drive systems. The groove of the V-belt works to generate some friction that works as both friction and positive drives.


Although all three belts serve different functions, the timing belt tends to have a longer lifespan. On average, timing belts have a lifespan of between 60,000 and 100,000 miles. 

In comparison, flat belts typically last for approximately 30,000 miles, while V-belts tend to last around 50,000 miles.

Noise Level

For the endless structure, the v belt makes less noise than the timing belt and the flat belt. 

Though the timing belt is also endless and it makes more noise than the v belt because of the toothed structure. The tooth makes more friction with the pulleys and as a result of that the timing belt creates more noise. In case, you hear unusual noise from a timing belt, there are ways to fix this. 

The flat belt, on the other hand, makes the most noise among the three belts. And the joint structure of the flat belt is responsible for this. The joint makes more vibration and results in more noise. 

Power Transmission Efficiency

When it comes to efficiency the flat belt and the timing belt are slightly superior to the V-belt. The V-belt’s anticipated efficiency is approximately 95 to 98%.

On the other hand, the timing belt boasts an efficiency of up to 98% and is able to maintain this level of efficiency for extended periods of time due to its structural advantage. 

The flat belt also has an efficiency rate of around 98%, since it can rotate easily. But, it’s not as durable as the timing belt when it comes to maintaining that efficiency over time.

Compatibility With Car Engine

The V-belt exhibits greater versatility in terms of compatibility with various car engines compared to both the timing belt and the flat belt. It can be utilized in a wide range of engines, while the timing belt is only suitable for use in overhead camshaft (OHC) engines, also known as piston engines. 

The flat belt, on the other hand, was previously used exclusively in old-model flathead engines, though it is also compatible with large industrial engines.

If you ride a BMW X1, here you’ll get to know whether your car is equipped with a timing belt or a chain.


The timing belt is more expensive than the V-belt and the flat belt. The timing belt cost ranges from $100 to $350 including the kit. The kit includes an idler pulley, tensioner pulley, and water pump pulley.

The V-belt, on the other hand, has a lower cost range of approximately $13 to $30. Flat automobile belts may have varying prices due to limited availability but are typically priced between $11 and $30.


After considering the factors discussed above, it can be concluded that each type of belt has its own unique characteristics and benefits. 

V-belts are suitable for transferring power between vertical and parallel pulleys, while timing belts are used for synchronizing the timing of engine components. Flat belts are able to perform at higher circumferential speeds and are best used with flat pulleys.

Timing belts have the longest lifespan, while flat belts have the highest efficiency. However, it is important to note that each type of belt has its own limitations and it is essential to choose the appropriate belt for the specific application in order to avoid damage and ensure optimal performance.

However, these belts serve different purposes and are not interchangeable.

V-Belt Timing Belt Flat Belt Infographic


What Are The 2 Disadvantages Of Using Flat Belts?

Two disadvantages of using a flat belt are it’s more likely to slip and wear out in a shorter period. Flat belts may experience slippage, particularly under heavy loads or high speeds, leading to reduced power transmission. Additionally, flat belts may be more prone to wear and tear and may need to be replaced more frequently than other belt types.

What Are The 2 Belts In A Car?

Timing belts and serpentine belts are the two main types of belts in a car. The timing belt synchronizes the timing between the camshaft and the crankshaft in the engine. On the other hand, serpentine belts drive different component pulleys like the alternator, A/C compressor, power steering, etc.

Why is a V-belt preferred over a flat belt?

V-belts are preferred over flat belts because they provide a better grip and power transmission due to their V-shaped design. They also have less slippage and are more efficient in transferring power. Additionally, V-belts are better able to handle fluctuations in speed and torque.


Well now it might be clear V-Belt Vs Timing Belt Vs Flat Belt. Because the purposes of these three belts are different s there are no legitimate comparisons between these three belts. 

Hope the discussion was helpful to you.

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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 Autoglobes.com with a passion for the automotive industry.