Does $1200 sound right for a timing belt repair

  • 62,000 MILES
I have a Honda Accord 2001 with 62,000 miles on it. I rarely drive long distances. I had my car serviced yesterday for regular maintenance and the dealership told me to consider having the timing belt replaced. They would replace the belt and other belts that needed it. They could do this for a cost of $1200. My question is how urgent is this service? Could a neighborhood garage mechanic do the job? If I can wait on this service, how long until I should have it done?
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Saturday, October 15th, 2011 AT 6:03 AM

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Back in the '80s Honda recommended the belt be replaced at 75,000 miles, ... And they commonly broke at around 65,000 miles leading to a REAL expensive engine repair. They use an "interference" engine which means when the timing belt breaks, the open valves are hit by the pistons as they coast to a stop and become bent. You'll need new valves and a since the cylinder head has to come off, you'll get a new head gasket too. Independent mechanics can replace the belt but if proper procedures aren't followed, some valves can still be bent. Anyone with a little experience can handle the job. $1200.00 seems awfully high. They most likely plan on replacing the water pump too if its pulley is one used by the timing belt. The extra cost of the part is cheap insurance against a failure later.

The water pump failed on my '88 Grand Caravan, and to get to it also required removing the timing belt, but that engine still uses common sense. It's not an interference engine so if the belt had broken, the engine would have died but no other damage would have occurred. You don't want to risk that damage. Labor and parts to have someone else replace my belt and water pump would have run close to $500.00 for a V-6 engine. Yours will be a bunch harder to get to but I still think you can find a better price on the job.
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Saturday, October 15th, 2011 AT 6:37 AM

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