When to change your cambelt

Modern cars are so efficient that most of us don’t bother to look under the bonnet to find out what’s what. But knowing when to replace your cambelt, could not only save you money, it could prolong the life of your car.

What is a cambelt and what does it do?

Cam belt, timing belt, or cambelt – they’re variations on the name given to the thick rubber band with grooves, or teeth, that keep your engine working in harmony. Without it, various engine components wouldn’t function together leaving your car pretty useless.

Not only does your cambelt keep all the valves and pistons in your car working together, it also keeps them apart in a very carefully timed manner. If the cambelt breaks, that timing would fail and all those valves could collide and cause a lot of very expensive damage.

How often does my cambelt need to change?

Ultimately that depends on the car, you’ll usually find a manufacturer recommendation in your owner manual, but a replacement is usually dependent on how old the car is, or how many miles it’s travelled. In real terms, it means replacing your cambelt after four or six years, or around the 60,000-mile mark for older vehicles, or 100,000 for newer models.


If you have your car regularly serviced, your garage should be able to tell you if your cambelt’s on its way out.

How much does a cambelt replacement cost?

The average cost of a cambelt replacement is £308 but depending on the car you have, you could find yourself with a four-figure bill.

The cambelt itself won’t usually be the most expensive element – that comes from labour costs. Removing and replacing a cambelt is time consuming and could take several hours as mechanics will need to remove numerous different parts in order to get to it in the first place.

Are there any signs of wear and tear?

Looking for signs that your cambelt needs replacing, isn’t always simple. Cambelts are tucked away, so unless you know what you’re looking for, or are used to poking around under the bonnet, it can be really quite difficult to assess wear and tear. However, some indicators may be;

• a high-pitched sound when you start the car, the sound is because the belt lacks traction
• your car is constantly difficult to start – this could be down to a weary cambelt as it struggles to keep the mechanics working together
• your car vibrates and overheats a lot – a sign that things aren’t working as smoothly as they should be
• leaking oil – not always indicative but together with other factors, like the above, could point towards the need for a replacement

Keeping calm in a crisis

Nobody wants to get caught short in the middle of a journey and if your car breaks down unexpectedly, you want to be sure that help is at hand. Which is why you should investigate all the options when it comes to deciding what’s important to you when choosing a car insurance policy – such as breakdown cover.

Luckily, we make searching for insurance quick and easy – our helpful guides will give you food for thought and our Cheapest Price Guarantee* means you could covered for less than you think.