The timing belt should have been replaced some time ago. There's only one engine size available for your car and it is an "interference" design. That means when the timing belt breaks the open valves will be hit and bent by the pistons as they coast to a stop. That is a very expensive repair.
There's two things that can happen. Most commonly the timing belt will snap unexpectedly leaving you sitting on the side of the road. Sometimes it will jump a tooth or two first. That is not enough to cause serious damage, ... Yet, but engine power will be seriously lacking. You will definitely notice the lack of performance. Some Engine Computers will shut the engine down to protect the valves but the Check Engine light will turn on and there will be a diagnostic fault code to indicate that. Chrysler products turn the light on when the belt jumps just one tooth because some people won't notice it and they'll keep on driving. They shut the engine down when the belt jumps two teeth. Not all other manufacturers do that. They just assume you will follow the recommended service interval, and they hope the belt won't break before that. Most manufacturers typically recommend the belt be replaced at around 75,000 miles. Honda had that recommendation in the '80s, and the belts typically broke at 65,000 miles leaving a lot of owners very unhappy.
Saturday, June 8th, 2013 AT 11:44 AM