While the engine is running, it is the timing belt that keeps the combustion timing accurate. When the belt fails, the engine will suddenly stop working, causing your ride to halt and to be incapable of starting again. So if you don't want to end up calling a tow truck to pick you and your vehicle up in the middle of nowhere, replace your timing belt at the right interval or as soon as you notice the first sign of damage. Here are some dos and don'ts to guide you in your timing belt purchase:
Do check your owner's manual to find out the type of engine and timing belt used in your model. Get an exact replacement if you don't want to render your newly purchased belt useless. In an interference engine, a wrong belt may break or slip, causing the piston to fly into an open valve. In a non-interference engine, on the other hand, an incompatible timing belt can cause serious damage on the components it needs to work hand in hand with.
Do research about the various timing belt materials and how they differ from each other. Urethane timing belts have high elasticity, so they can absorb shock, vibration, and impact better than other materials. Though rubber timing belts are prone to degradation when exposed to high temperatures, there are units that feature highly saturated nitrile materials, which make the belt tough and resistant to wear, oil, and even engine heat.
Don't forget to check the replacement belt's length and tooth quantity and compare them with your stock. This will help you avoid compatibility issues within the engine and other parts that work with the timing belt.
Don't forego quality in favor of price. Check out the timing belt's features to determine if it's worth the price. Some belts are more expensive because of their non-stretch cord, jackets, self-lubricating fabric, and other additional features that improve the belts' efficiency and durability. Also check the product's warranty; some manufacturers add a few bucks to the price of their products in exchange for longer and better warranty coverage.