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Guest theboltonfury

One For Mechanics - Question

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Guest theboltonfury

I know there are some proper petrol heads on here. I have a laguna with 80k on it, worth about 2k max. The mechanic told me to get the CamBelt changed at my recent service, as if it breaks then the car is not worth repairing. Quoted me £400 to do this

Is he scaring me just to get business? Anyone not bothered to change their against manufacturers advices to disastrous results or is it something not really worth considering, i.e they say change at 72k but they really should last for ever and they just want you to use their mechanics

Any advice very gratefully received

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I know there are some proper petrol heads on here. I have a laguna with 80k on it, worth about 2k max. The mechanic told me to get the CamBelt changed at my recent service, as if it breaks then the car is not worth repairing. Quoted me £400 to do this

Is he scaring me just to get business? Anyone not bothered to change their against manufacturers advices to disastrous results or is it something not really worth considering, i.e they say change at 72k but they really should last for ever and they just want you to use their mechanics

Any advice very gratefully received

Took my car in for an MOT recently and the garage had a sign up saying 120 pounds for a cambelt change.

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Guest theboltonfury
Took my car in for an MOT recently and the garage had a sign up saying 120 pounds for a cambelt change.

He told me as I have a 16valve it was a big job. I have googled it and it seems about right, give or take £50 for my model

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If you are planning on keeping it for a few more years I would go for it. Might even give it a better chance of resale at some point in the future if you have a receipt.

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Anyone not bothered to change their against manufacturers advices to disastrous results or is it something not really worth considering, i.e they say change at 72k but they really should last for ever and they just want you to use their mechanics

One of my second-hand Fiats came with a receipt for nearly 1,000 pounds of repairs when one of the previous owners didn't spend 150 quid changing the cam-belt and it snapped.

The damage will depend on how the engine is designed -- in that case it needed new valves, pistons, etc because they hit each other when the belt broke -- but they are rubber belts and they will snap eventually. At best you'll be stuck at the side of the road waiting for someone to tow your car to a garage.

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One of my second-hand Fiats came with a receipt for nearly 1,000 pounds of repairs when one of the previous owners didn't spend 150 quid changing the cam-belt and it snapped.

The damage will depend on how the engine is designed -- in that case it needed new valves, pistons, etc because they hit each other when the belt broke -- but they are rubber belts and they will snap eventually. At best you'll be stuck at the side of the road waiting for someone to tow your car to a garage.

For a 2k car I'd say its just about worth it...if is was worth less than that, I'd seriously think about getting rid of it.. Manufacturers are now putting in chain driven cambelts which does make them more durable than the existing rubber type belts.

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Agree that 16v per se should not make it more complex but these French cars usually have a tortuous cam belt fitting that makes the labour time longer. Maybe it's a dual camshaft?

It HAS to be a twin camshaft on a 16 valve......doesnt it?

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It HAS to be a twin camshaft on a 16 valve......doesnt it?

That would explain it then.

And I am very impressed that you managed to respond to my post nearly an hour before I wrote it!

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He told me as I have a 16valve it was a big job.

All that means is that each of the four cylinders has two intake and two exhaust valves: I can't see how this would make a difference in itself to the price of the timing belt (cambelt) itself, or the complexity of fitting it (i.e. labour cost).

£400 does seem high to me. I've had the cambelt replaced on my previous car (1997 Mondeo) and current one (2002 Fiesta), and I think the cost was something like £150 and £120 respectively. If you are going to get it done, it might be worth replacing the alternator belt (fan belt) and water pump as well. You need to remove the cam belt in order to get at the water pump and the fan belt in order to get at the cam belt (on most types of engine), and therefore you're duplicating the labour cost if you these two ever fail in the future. In particular, Ford water pumps are notorious for failing after around 60k miles or so.

The manufacturer will publish a recommended change interval for cam belts. As a general rule, if you do lots of short, stop-start driving, you'll want to reduce that a bit, but if the car is mainly used for long runs at a steady speed up and down the motorway, you're probably OK to let it run a bit longer. Agreed with everyone else that you need to think about the cost of the repair in relation to the value of the car, the likelihood of other big ticket parts needing replacement and how long you're planning to keep it. I got rid of the Mondeo just as it was coming up to a cambelt change, because about £500 worth of other bits would have needed doing to get it through the next MOT and for a car worth under a grand, it wasn't worth it. Also agreed that if it breaks while running, you're in for a serious bill.

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All that means is that each of the four cylinders has two intake and two exhaust valves: I can't see how this would make a difference in itself to the price of the timing belt (cambelt) itself, or the complexity of fitting it (i.e. labour cost).

Agree that 16v per se should not make it more complex but these French cars usually have a tortuous cam belt fitting that makes the labour time longer. Maybe it's a dual camshaft?

£400 does seem high to me. I've had the cambelt replaced on my previous car (1997 Mondeo) and current one (2002 Fiesta), and I think the cost was something like £150 and £120 respectively. If you are going to get it done, it might be worth replacing the alternator belt (fan belt) and water pump as well. You need to remove the cam belt in order to get at the water pump and the fan belt in order to get at the cam belt (on most types of engine), and therefore you're duplicating the labour cost if you these two ever fail in the future. In particular, Ford water pumps are notorious for failing after around 60k miles or so.

Always get the water pump done as well as they're dead easy to change with the cam belt off and last about the same length of time. Cam belt kits usually come with a water pump for this reason.

Not convinced about the fan belt, this is usually unrelated but if you haven't changed it for a while then why not as it will be cheap.

The manufacturer will publish a recommended change interval for cam belts. As a general rule, if you do lots of short, stop-start driving, you'll want to reduce that a bit, but if the car is mainly used for long runs at a steady speed up and down the motorway, you're probably OK to let it run a bit longer. Agreed with everyone else that you need to think about the cost of the repair in relation to the value of the car, the likelihood of other big ticket parts needing replacement and how long you're planning to keep it. I got rid of the Mondeo just as it was coming up to a cambelt change, because about £500 worth of other bits would have needed doing to get it through the next MOT and for a car worth under a grand, it wasn't worth it. Also agreed that if it breaks while running, you're in for a serious bill.

And the inconvenience of breaking down, having to be towed, scrapping the car, getting a new one.....

Unless there was clear evidence of a recent cam belt change I always get a new one fitted straight after buying a second hand car (mileage over 50k).

Running a car with a cam belt over the recommended change interval is an unnecessary risk that I don't want to take.

I do agee that £400 is steep, but have never had a Renault so wouldn't really know.

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For a 2k car I'd say its just about worth it...if is was worth less than that, I'd seriously think about getting rid of it.. Manufacturers are now putting in chain driven cambelts which does make them more durable than the existing rubber type belts.

Do you know more about this?

My old Escorts had chains which just went on for ever, but my recent cars have been belts. I had thought it was because the Escorts had simple engines (no air con or power steering which both require a serpentine belt for which a chain wasn't suitable) but then I have been hearing about chains on BMW engines so it can't be as simple as I was thinking it was.

I'd like to go back to having a chain though I'm not buying a BMW (I just wouldn't, doesn't matter why) so are there any other manufacturers bringing these in?

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Do you know more about this?

My old Escorts had chains which just went on for ever, but my recent cars have been belts. I had thought it was because the Escorts had simple engines (no air con or power steering which both require a serpentine belt for which a chain wasn't suitable) but then I have been hearing about chains on BMW engines so it can't be as simple as I was thinking it was.

I'd like to go back to having a chain though I'm not buying a BMW (I just wouldn't, doesn't matter why) so are there any other manufacturers bringing these in?

My modern petrol mazda has a chain rather than a belt. I think Toyota and Honda favour them as well. Funny that those slap-dash, corner-cutting Japanese should favour a chain over a consumable belt :rolleyes: Current 1.6 petrol focus reportedly uses the same engine as the Mazda - 100hp model rather than the 115hp VCT unit that appeared in somes earlier mk2s. It was the spectre of cambelt changes that put me off buying a VAG PD diesel.

Can't speak for a 16v Laguna but I'd weigh up the cost of the change with the reported likelihood of failure, the value of the car and my intention to keep it for how long.

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Guest KingCharles1st

IF you can't afford 350 for a cam belt change, then YOU CAN'T AFFORD FOR IT TO BREAK

Unless you have special damage insurance, and any time of night aa/rac recovery to your door etc, then ignore the belt change at your peril. You could easily be looking at 2/3 times this much when the belt breaks, depending on where you are when it goes, recovery charges, garage charges, parts charges labour charges etc. And of course then you will have the aggor of some grease monkey rebuilding half the engine that was running perfectly ok like the manufacturer intended before the belt broke and the valves got bent etc etc, fitting cheap rebuild parts etc etc

It's a no brainer

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I had my belt fail while driving. It was on a Toyota, and when we checked was one of the few cars that didnt wreck its own engine when this happened.

I suppose it just depends on if you feel lucky :-)

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Get it replaced, and get the other work done in the same area, but ask around for a couple of quotes, I think it cost 400quid to have my belt replaced on the current car, but it is a 3ltr, french and very tricky.... I had a cam belt go on me before on a prev car, and I ended up trading the car in. WHEN the belt goes your car will just stop dead in the road as the valves wont be in time with the pistons. Depending on the car on the damage but the values can fall down into the engine and hit the pistons get bent and/or damage the pistons inside the engine! Fixing it could be a breeze, or it could involve taking the engine apart/buying a new engine. The cam belt is just a big elastic band, so it will break depending on age from 60k miles onwards, the longer you leave it the more likely it will just snap as your driving down the road.

If you do decide to leave it make sure you have the money in the bank to buy a new car, and you pay for a full recovery service to tow your car to a garage/scrap yard

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The cam belt snapped on my Laguna last year. The RAC told me the engine was damaged beyond economical repair, and then proceeded to phone a garage and got me a quote of around £700 to fix.

After a little investigation, I discovered that the cams on the Laguna are designed to break in the event of belt failure. So I stripped the top of the engine, replaced four broken cams, and the belt. Cost me around £70. Plus two days work.

Pig of a job though.

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Guest theboltonfury
The cam belt snapped on my Laguna last year. The RAC told me the engine was damaged beyond economical repair, and then proceeded to phone a garage and got me a quote of around £700 to fix.

After a little investigation, I discovered that the cams on the Laguna are designed to break in the event of belt failure. So I stripped the top of the engine, replaced four broken cams, and the belt. Cost me around £70. Plus two days work.

Pig of a job though.

There's no way I could do that sort of thing in a million years.

I've read enough, I'm going to get it changed. Makes you think though about trading in for an old car, having read this (and I believe what's been said) I would want to see proof of a cam belt change on any car with more than 60k on the clock. Otherwise you are just buying a very expensive incident waiting to happen. Worth knowing, cheers!

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Guest X-QUORK
Did they change the gearbox at the same time as the belt change, or did you discover 5th gear? ;)

Automatic.

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I've read enough, I'm going to get it changed. Makes you think though about trading in for an old car, having read this (and I believe what's been said) I would want to see proof of a cam belt change on any car with more than 60k on the clock. Otherwise you are just buying a very expensive incident waiting to happen.

Yes, if you are going to keep the car for another while, then get it done. As for the next car you buy, get one that doesn't have a cam belt. I've had one go a few years ago, on a car that had done about 46k miles. I won't be doing that again !

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There's no way I could do that sort of thing in a million years.

I've read enough, I'm going to get it changed. Makes you think though about trading in for an old car, having read this (and I believe what's been said) I would want to see proof of a cam belt change on any car with more than 60k on the clock. Otherwise you are just buying a very expensive incident waiting to happen. Worth knowing, cheers!

Wise move.

FWIW my mechanic told me years ago that a Laguna is the worst car to change a cam belt on, can't remember the specific reason, but it's a really long job.

The 306 (1.4L) is a doddle. I've had four of them, and changed the cam belt on three. The most 'expensive' bill was £45 including labour. :P

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Yes, if you are going to keep the car for another while, then get it done. As for the next car you buy, get one that doesn't have a cam belt. I've had one go a few years ago, on a car that had done about 46k miles. I won't be doing that again !

In the service book for mine the recommended interval is 72K*. When you look at the bottom of the page it reads *36K in arduous driving conditions.

Their definition of arduous driving conditions is not - as some might think - taking it off road, it's lots of stop-start traffic.

I use 36K as my guideline. The first time I did it my mechanic thought I was being a bit premature, but when he took it off he said it wouldn't have made it past 40K. :blink:

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I know there are some proper petrol heads on here. I have a laguna with 80k on it, worth about 2k max. The mechanic told me to get the CamBelt changed at my recent service, as if it breaks then the car is not worth repairing. Quoted me £400 to do this

Is he scaring me just to get business? Anyone not bothered to change their against manufacturers advices to disastrous results or is it something not really worth considering, i.e they say change at 72k but they really should last for ever and they just want you to use their mechanics

Any advice very gratefully received

You may as well change it. However, it depends on the engine. If it's one where the pistons will hit the valves if they go out of time then you will have a big bill when it eventually goes. However, I once had an old Cavalier which the belt went on at around 60mph and did no damage at all as the pistons and vales don't meet on them. On the other hand, I have an old Merc V8 on which they do; it's a chain on that, rather than a belt. A piece of the plastic chain guide came loose, wedged it's self between the sprocket and the chain, pushed the chain through the rocker-cover, jammed the cam causing all the valves down one bank of cylinders to bend when the pistons hit them. The bill was over 2 grand from a Merc specialist - I dread to think what a dealer would have charged. I was actually starting the car at the time - had it been moving then I reckon it would have been beyond repair.

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Makes perfect sense to me. The belt is going to be under the most stress during acceleration from standstill, as the engine speed changes rapidly with each gear change. 40k miles, most of which is done at a steady 2,500rpm on the motorway for hours on end is going to stress the belt a lot less than 40k miles of stop-start driving through town and from cold.

Engines have been going back to chains for a few years.Mercedes never used belts.I pay between £80 and £150 depending on the complexity of the belt,including labour.My mechanic charges £15 an hour to the trade and £20 to retail customers. The trouble is dealerships and back street wide boys charge £60-£100 an hour,so a typical belt change can be anything from £120-£300 labour.

If they snap it's pot luck,sometimes if the engine is just starting or on tickover you get away with it.If you are on the motorway your engine is going to be mush as at 3k revs if react in one second thats 50 hits of tin-on-tin.Your best bet is to find an old boy in a shed with a good reputation.A bit like the mechanic in Last of the Summer Wine.These old Fred Dibnah types run on a lean mix of woodbines and brown ale.

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Many (not all!) garages change a cam belt as a matter of course when selling a second hand car. If you buy a s/h car & it doesn't have a service history ask for garage to fit a new one - as a deal maker ONCE you've agreed the price- the hassle of arguing with customers just isn't worth their risk.

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