Timing belt! Now! Help!
September 15, 2010 5:27 PM   Subscribe

It's way past time to change my timing belt - like almost 30,000 miles past! Help me find the right Honda/Acura dealership in West Central Florida (Tampa to Gainesville) to change the timing belt on my 1994 Acura Integra.

So I was supposed to change my timing belt at 273,000, but I lost the receipt from my last timing belt and thought I had more time than I did - Yikes! Now I'm at 299,500 (and change) and have to change my timing belt Right Now! Or Else!
For the record, I'm not driving the Acura now, until I know where to take it for service.
I had the last timing belt done at Wade Raulerson in Gainesville and wasn't knocked out - for one thing, my car didn't used to seep oil and after the last timing belt change, it does. So, please let me know which are the very best dealers for service in the I-75/275 corridor from Tampa/St. Pete to Gainesville. I'm open to anybody except WR (unless things have changed significantly) - but please tell me who to ask for at the service desk and why they're the best at Honda/Acura service, because if I didn't tell you before -

My 1994 Acura Integra is the best car Evar! (and I want to keep driving it).
posted by toodleydoodley to Travel & Transportation (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Why are you restricting yourself to dealerships? Swapping out the timing belt (probably) doesn't require any weird tools, parts, or techniques that only dealership mechanics have/know.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:07 PM on September 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Just get it changed - quick! Doing a quick conversion from kms, that sounds like 50% over!

I don't know if the valves are interference fit in your car (they hit the piston if the belt breaks), and belts do not normally break immediately the change becomes overdue, but at the very least you are risking major inconvenience, if not major engine damage.

But you probably know this ...
posted by GeeEmm at 6:33 PM on September 15, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for suggestions so far -- for those of you tuning in on my previous asks, I'm in a really poor rural area with low-quality services. This is simply too big a job for the mechanics of my acquaintance out in the rural counties (where I live), and my experience with the shops in Gainesville/southern Alachua county leads me to believe that they think everyone visibly under 40 is a student, and therefore a four-year ATM.

Please note this is not just wild prejudice - I've lived out here the greater part of a decade and had personal or one-degree experience with more than 10 mechanics - lots of fail. They're ok for small jobs and oil changes, but not to take out your whole precious engine.

I used to live in Tampa-St. Pete but don't any more, and I didn't have Hondas then, so I don't know the shops south of here.

If you have an awesome shop, please let me know, and tell me whom to talk to.

posted by toodleydoodley at 6:44 PM on September 15, 2010

Best answer: I can't speak specifically for the area, but as a long-time Honda owner, you need to find a Honda specialist in your area rather than a dealer. Our Honda man, Del, does a great job and is much much cheaper than the dealer. A quick google search came up with Guy's in Tampa. You can also search via the Car Talk website by specifying Honda and a distance from a zipcode. Good luck and happy Honda drivin'.
posted by pappy at 6:59 PM on September 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

The miles aren't the big thing, but the age is. Oh, wait, it's not the original belt? When was the last one done? The belt gets almost no wear. If it has been less than 5 years or so, I wouldn't worry about taking a few weeks to gather recommendations from local Honda owners.
posted by gjc at 8:12 PM on September 15, 2010

Response by poster: I admire your cavalier approach to auto maintenance, gjc - you're a poster after my own heart! anyway I have a couple more horses in the stable that really need riding, so letting the acura sit for a week is no big.

No, I had the last belt changed at 173,000, so I should have had this one changed at 273,000. I'm at 299,500+, so I'm almost 30,000 miles past when I should have done it. Also, FWIW, I've put 160,000+ miles on this car in the last 5 years (yes, over 30K/year), so having discovered my timeliness error, I'm not eager to compound it by smashing up the guts of my engine on "just one more day" - not on a car that's taken vastly better care of me than I've taken of it.

/just looked at title - holy shit - I really did drive like 32k miles/year last 5 years? where?
posted by toodleydoodley at 8:42 PM on September 15, 2010

The miles aren't the big thing, but the age is. Oh, wait, it's not the original belt? When was the last one done? The belt gets almost no wear. If it has been less than 5 years or so, I wouldn't worry about taking a few weeks to gather recommendations from local Honda owners.

Not advice I would take, I have never heard that age is the main determinant of belt life. Not saying you must not drive it unless you are driving to the garage to get it fixed, but to suggest the belt does no work is pretty silly. I suggest gjc try to turn the camshaft by hand, at say 3000 rpm, and then factor in the bending of the belt around the pulleys ...

FWIW, my Mazda's belt is lifed at 100k kms, ~60k miles.
posted by GeeEmm at 1:43 AM on September 16, 2010

Best answer: I'm with ROU_Xenophobe, generally. There's nothing particularly mysterious about changing a Honda timing belt, circa 1994 Honda automobiles, including Integras, which do have interference valves. Yes, you want it changed, post haste, but you've still got options, cost wise and location wise, beyond dealership service, particularly if you've kept up with oil changes, and keep the revs/speed down on the way to the service shop.

If you can drive as far north as Jacksonville, I can recommend All Pro Automotive, who have done plenty of maintenance work for me over the last 5 years, at competitive prices, with good forward looking advice.
posted by paulsc at 5:03 AM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Who said it does no work? All I said is that it gets almost no wear. Unlike the belts on the outside of the engine which rely on tension and friction to do their jobs, the timing belt is toothed. And is under surprisingly little tension. So the teeth just sort of drop into the cogs as it is moving along its path. They way they fail is that the rubber starts to dry-rot (or gets oil soaked from a leaky engine) and the rubber delaminates from the substrate. And teeth fall out or sheer off, and there's your failure. If you don't believe me, look at the belt when it comes out.

It is good maintenance practice to change the belt regularly, of course. I'm not saying don't change it. But its importance is overstated. There are hundreds of thousands of cars on the road with older belts, probably millions, and they aren't dropping dead all over the place. Another few weeks are not going to be a problem.
posted by gjc at 6:43 AM on September 16, 2010

If it's like the Accord, the water pump is driven by the same belt. Change it at the same time. It's almost no more work for the mechanic and the part is not terribly expensive. Waiting to replace it runs the risk of it seizing up and causing the timing belt to slip.

FWIW, my Accord had the first timing belt change early, at about 85,000. I didn't get it replaced again until about 195,000, or about 20,000 miles late (it has a 90,000 mile service life). The belt was still in decent condition, so you'll probably be fine, if when it was last done your mechanic used an OEM belt.
posted by wierdo at 6:44 AM on September 16, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks fellers!

On Pappy's advice I checked the CarTalk database, although I'd been wary of it because a) nobody checks to see if those guys are even still open any more and b) a shop that burned my cousin has piles of rave reviews. But nothing's perfect, right?

I went to City Line Citgo, AKA City Line Marathon, AKA that no-name shop that's stashed in the back of the defunct Brasington Cadillac dealership across from Gainesville High School. I also kept the car under 3200 RPM the whole way into town, on paulsc's advice.

Well, so far, so good. Those guys seem to know what they're about; my car sounds better than it did after the last timing belt change, and they reminded me to change the water pump, valve cover gaskets, etc, etc. And they did it in half a day, which was awesome.

So, thanks, all. I should turn 300,000 in the next week or so, and am planning a big 2,000-mile trip like next week, so we'll see for real.
posted by toodleydoodley at 6:17 PM on September 22, 2010

Response by poster: btw Pappy - Guys in Tampa has beaucoups of favorites but among the unfavorites are allegations that they write their own reviews 0_o

and on looking thru the reviews, they do have a homogeneously praisy look about them...

but thanks for the cartalk point!
posted by toodleydoodley at 6:19 PM on September 22, 2010

Response by poster: Hi all!

Ok, 2,000 mile trip down, 300,000-mile-milestone down, car running great. They even solved the oil leak caused I think when the boys at Wade Raulerson didn't re-seal the engine properly after the last timing belt.

City Line Citgo/Marathon/Whatever for the win!
posted by toodleydoodley at 12:17 PM on October 16, 2010

« Older Parents/Caregivers with RA - help me "hack" your...   |   good ol' country hardball Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.