August 28

2006 Toyota Solara, Timing Belt Replacement

Podcast2018, Toyota


Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert here, producer of the Pawlik Automotive Podcast. We're here this morning with Mr Bernard Auto Pawlik, the big bopper himself, here in Vancouver, and we're talking cars. How you doing, Bernie?

Bernie: Doing very well.

Mark: So we're talking about a Toyota Solara. It's a kind of a unique vehicle, a 2006 that had a timing belt problem. What was going on with this vehicle?

Bernie: So yeah, so this vehicle came in for a B maintenance service, which is for us it's an oil, basically an oil change service with a full vehicle inspection. Out of doing the maintenance inspection we determined the timing belt needed to be replaced.

Mark: So if we're talking about timing belt replacement I assume you got a lot of other stuff that you have to change? 

Bernie: There are other items to replace at the same time as the timing belt. Generally when we do a timing belt, we'll do the water pump, the front engine oil seals, the timing belt tensioner. Any pulleys that are ... Anything really affected by the timing belt, or anything that can directly affect the timing belts life span, we do all at the same time. 

Mark: Did you find that it was worn out, or was it just a scheduled change?

Bernie: Well we basically replaced it on the mileage of the vehicle and the fact that we couldn't see any evidence that the belt had been replaced. Now you might want to ask can you not look at the belt? The answer is not without a lot of difficulty. I learned a long time ago when I had a customer with a Subaru many, many years ago. Where it was getting near the mileage of the timing belt, I looked at the timing belt, popped the cover open, it wasn't hard too hard on that car. Looked at it, go yeah it looks fine. Month later the car got towed in with a broken timing belt. So I've kind of learned, now you just never judge them. Now that being an older Subaru those belts are, they break a lot easier, these ones are a lot more robust. But you really can't tell the condition of the timing belt unless you actually take it off. There are a few tell tale signs, we'll look at some pictures in a few minutes of the age of a belt once you take it apart. Things have changed a lot with timing belts, they used to be if you got 100,000 kilometres on a timing belt you're really lucky. That Subaru I was mentioning, those things would often break at 50,000 kilometres, they were kind of a bit of a some bad engineering there. But 50 to 100,000 kilometres was kind of a normal interval for timing belt, now they're up in the 150 to 200 range, and often will go a lot longer than that. Just due to redesign of the belt and how they're built. 

So we can get into some pictures here. 

2006 Toyota Solara, Timing Belt Replacement
2006 Toyota Solara, Timing Belt Replacement
2006 Toyota Solara, Timing Belt Replacement

So there's our Solara, these come in convertible and none convertible but this is the convertible model. Real nice vehicle, very similar to a Camry in design and operation, same engine and same drive train. Here's the timing belt and a couple of the components we replaced. So there's the water pump, there's the timing belt tensioner pulley, and of course the belt itself, which is rather fairly long belt, a V6 engine. For our final photo this is a close up of the belt, so I mean the actual teeth on the belt are on the backside, but you can see on this side there's all the lettering. When these belts are new they all have like writing on them, either from Toyota or whatever, after market manufacturers, the brand name, the belt number, some other information. The fact that there was actually none visible on this just tells us the belt’s old. I mean the rubber was fairly old, but was it about to break? Not really, but you just don't want to take a chance with that kind of thing. So that's our picture show. 

Mark: Okay. I've lost my screen here. So what's our next question?

Bernie: Our next question, excellent. So we talked about visual inspections, what do we have? Well timing belt interval, generally in the 150 to 200,000 kilometre range. Closer to 150 is really where you want to do them. Depending on the age of the vehicle as well, that has a bit of a factor in it. This vehicle is 06, that makes it about a 12 year old vehicle, seeing no evidence that the belt had been replaced it's a good time to do it. A 12 year belt is getting pretty old. Also, I guess the question too of all the other items we do, with the water pump, the tensioner, the seals, I mean is that necessary to do it? People are often conscious of the cost, to do everything complete is a fair amount of money. You can just change the belt, however if the water pump fails and it very well likely will pretty soon, or any of the tensioner pulleys, or the tensioner itself, which is a hydraulic unit gives way. The whole job is basically a waste, you have to take it all apart again and do it. So what we do is do the whole job complete, get it all done and then you don't have to worry about it for another 10 years, which I think is the best way to do it. Better to spend the money now and do it fully than ... I've seen so many times when people have taken it somewhere else, and gone I had the belt replaced but I didn't want to do the water pump. A year later they're in for the water pump, and hey I should have done it right the first time. So that's the best thing to do. 

Mark: Yeah, so is that a case of everything in that kind of, if we're talking about the front end of the engine, or whatever, and all those pieces that are run off of or have something to do with the timing belt, they all wear at the same place, at the same rate in effect. So the belt is worn a little bit and stretched out tight a little bit, puts maybe a little varying amount of pressure on the water pump, or whatever the reality is of it. That they all, they've gotten used to the state of wear that they're all in. When you put the new piece in it actually puts more pressure and wears out the water pump, or the tensioner faster?

Bernie: Well it does probably put a little more pressure but like modern, all modern timing belts are all self tensioned so they theoretically have the same tension all the way through. But it's more of an age issue, I mean a bearing will only turn for so many times before it eventually fails. Now some might go for a 100,000 kilometres, some might go for 500 but you don't really know when that's going to happen. What we do know is when it does fail you're going to have take everything apart and do the timing belt again. Most of the time when we do the timing belt, you spin the bearing, you can hear it's dry, it spins very freely. Like you can tell the lubrication's drying up, and it's not as good as it could be. Same with water pumps, I mean they will leak eventually or the bearings will wear out as well. So it's just better to replace it because you know that it's only going to be a matter of time before it goes. You might get lucky, it might last 10 more years, but that would be like a statistical anomaly as opposed to being, you know what… 

Mark: What would normally happen. 

Bernie: Yeah, what would normally happen exactly.

Mark: Timing belt replacement around 150,000 kilometres, is that true across all makes and models of cars?

Bernie: Pretty much, and I say 150, that might be a little sooner than some recommended. A lot of them are like around 168, which I think is 110,000 miles. But yeah usually somewhere around the 150 to 200 range is where most of them are recommended. I mean the 200 is pretty high, I think there's a couple of Ford products I've seen that have it recommended at that mileage. But yeah, if you're thinking the 150 to 180 range that's definitely time you're going to need to do the timing belt. But check the manufacturers schedule, that's one thing that's really important to look at and follow that one. 

Mark: So when a timing belt replacement, this is a pretty major job from all the parts that are being replaced. 

Bernie: It is, yeah, I'd say it's a major maintenance service and certainly you know when you look at two engines on a car, you think okay I'm going to need a timing belt replacement on this one. Say another engine has a timing chain that doesn't need it, I mean there's a ... If you do it properly, I mean a sort of average timing belt job can be $1500 to do it with the water pump, the tensioners, the pulleys, all those kinds of things. Or it can be a bit less, it can be a bit more depending on the car. That's a fair amount of money to put out on a maintenance service, you think well great I'd rather have a timing chain engine. But timing chains do fail, and when they do the cost is a lot higher. So I mean with a timing chain you never know, it may last forever, and it may fail and you just never really know. But the key to timing chain engines is you've got to make sure you follow your oil change intervals. Because you've got that many more moving parts that are affected by, that good clean oil makes a big difference. 

Mark: So what happens if the timing belt breaks?

Bernie: Good question, so if the timing belt breaks your engine will stop right then and there and it won't start again. That's if you have a none interference fit, well that's with any engine. But the other thing is if you have an interference fit engine, which is an engine that's built in such a way that the piston and valves can collide if the timing belt breaks. Then you'll have catastrophic engine damage, the valves get bent, and it becomes extremely expensive to repair. This particular Toyota engine by the way, I was looking for some information is it inference fit or not, I got conflicting information. There's a number of different, if you look on the internet, there's a number of different sites that have lists of engines that tell you, are these inference or not. One website I looked at says yes, the other one says no. Then another one said conflicting information, treat it as an interference engine. So really the best thing to do is treat any car as an inference engine because I mean it's inconvenient when it breaks anyways. But if it does break and causes valve damage it's just horrendously expensive. 

Mark: Is this a V6 that Toyota used across a different range of models of vehicles?

Bernie: Oh yeah they've used it in, you'll find it in Lexus vehicles, you'll find it in Camry's, Avalon's, Lexus, a variety of Lexus products. Pretty common engine, excellent engine, very reliable. 

Mark: How are Toyota Solara's for reliability? 

Bernie: It's a Toyota, they're awesome. Yeah, really nothing I can say that's bad about them, they're really good. I mean really the timing belt is one of the, sort of one of the major maintenance items you're going to deal with on this engine, that's pretty much it. 

Mark: So there you go if you're looking for a service for your Toyota product, since we've pumped Toyota's tires so hard here usually. We like their products, they're reliable vehicles. The guys to see in Vancouver are Pawlik Automotive. We appreciate you folks watching from all over the world, but please if you're calling for service and you're in Vancouver we'd love to hear from you. If you're calling for us to diagnose your car issues over the phone we can't do it. Just can't. So give us a call if you want to book an appointment at 604-327-7112, you have to call to book ahead 'cause we're busy. Or check out our website, we're on YouTube, Pawlik Auto Repair, hundreds of videos on there. As well as of course we're really appreciating you watching our podcast. Thanks a lot Bernie.

Bernie: Thanks Mark, and thanks for watching. 

About the author 

Bernie Pawlik

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