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ALERT: Communication for customers impacted by the natural disasters.

Our thoughts are with those affected by the natural disasters. We are here to help customers who've been impacted and contact us by evaluating:

  • waiving of certain fees
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Timing Belt vs Serpentine Belt

Timing Belt vs Serpentine Belt

When it comes to understanding the inner workings of your vehicle, it’s easy to get a little lost in the vocabulary. You likely know there are belts in your car, but you might not know the difference between two very important belts: the serpentine belt and the timing belt. Here are some key differences between these belts.

Serpentine belts are the belts you can see.

When you pop the hood to check out your engine block, you should be able to see the serpentine belt, a thin, rubber belt that winds around several components in your engine, like a snake (hence ‘serpentine’). On the other hand, timing belts are deeper in the engine block and can’t be seen from the outside.1,3

Timing belts have teeth.

Made of strong materials like neoprene or molded polyurethane, timing belts feature little teeth that grip components of the crankshaft, which then turns the camshaft. These parts of the engine help to open and close the valves of the engine. The distance between the teeth is called the ‘pitch.’1

Replacing a serpentine belt is routine.

Most mechanics agree that your serpentine belt will likely have to be replaced around every 50,000 miles. With the serpentine belt being so accessible and inexpensive, this repair isn’t the worst news to receive.2

Read about other common car problems.

Timing belt replacement can be expensive.

Timing belts themselves aren’t necessarily that costly, however, the damage to your engine from a timing belt breaking is often nearly irreparable. If the timing belt breaks, the pistons, valves, and cylinder heads will be very damaged – even requiring a new engine in some cases.1 In the event you just need to replace the timing belt, labor cost could be high because this belt is inside the engine. Whereas, in the event your serpentine belt breaks, you will be able to simply replace the belt in most instances, without major damage to the engine.4

PLUS, read what you should do if your engine light comes on.

While both serpentine and timing belts are important and essential to your vehicle, they are very different in their appearance, form, and function – not to mention the affordability of repair. Your mechanic can help you decide if and when you might need to consider replacing these belts. Repairs to your vehicle can be pricey but don’t have to slow you down. The Synchrony Car Care™ credit card is there to help you finance all the big automotive expenses - planned and unplanned – for your car, truck or RV. Find out more here.


  1. Serpentine Belt vs Timing Belt – Core Planets

  2. Understanding All the Drive Belts in your Car – Your Mechanic

  3. Difference between Timing Belt & Serpentine Belt – It Still Runs

  4. The Difference between the Serpentine Belt vs. the Timing Belt – OARDS.com

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