One of the most important parts of your car, the cambelt. We have all heard the horror stories of cambelts breaking and these miss haps are nearly always due to poor vehicle maintenance.


A cambelt is used to drive one or more camshafts, depending on your engine’s configuration, which in turn opens and closes the valves in time with crankshaft rotation.

It is usually located at the front of your engine behind the drive belts and under plastic protective covers.

Not all cars use cambelts to drive the camshafts, some manufacturers prefer a chain or gears drive instead. Chains or gear driven systems do not have to be replaced at regular intervals like cambelts, however cambelts have some major advantages over the other types of drives: They are popular because they have low noise, cheap replacement (compared to chains or gears), and low mass or weight meaning less power is required to drive them.


They do however need replacing at regular intervals, usually every 100,000km but this can vary from 60,000km to 120,000km. Every vehicle is different, if you are not sure on you particular model’s specifications contact Jackson Brown Auto & Marine on 4314 814 and we will be able to help.

If your cambelt breaks, major engine damage can result if your engine is an ‘interference design’ which most modern multi-valve engines are. The damage is caused by the pistons hitting the valves and the valves bending. At best you will break down on the side of the road, as cambelts give no warning to when they are about to break. At worst you will be looking at major engine repair or even engine replacement.


The most common causes of breakages are extended service life (not being changed when they are due), oil or coolant contamination (oil or coolant leaks on to the belt), and water pump, idler or tensioner bearing failure.

When the time comes to replace your cambelt it is highly recommended that the tensioners, idlers and water pump are replaced along with it, as these relatively low-cost items are easy to replace with the belt off already. If one of these items fails after the belt has been replaced, the belt will have to be removed and all that goes with it again to access it. Also, some belts can only be fitted once and if removed will need to be replaced again regardless of km travelled.

Your cambelt is an integral part of your vehicle’s engine and is not an item you can maintain or replace yourself without specialist knowledge; the best advice is to talk to your mechanic about your particular vehicles needs, and as always, keeping your car well maintained and up to date with service schedules will prevent breakdowns and keep your vehicle running efficiently.

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