You may have hard people use the terms ‘timing belt’ and ‘serpentine belt’ interchangeably. This is wrong because these two terms refer to entirely different components with different functions. Both play crucial roles in the operation of any vehicle. Both should also be checked regularly for wear and tear. So what exactly is the difference between these two types of belts? How do they work in Porsche models? Here’s how they differ.
The Timing Belt
It is also referred to as the cambelt or the timing chain. It connects to the crankshaft. Its main function is to ensure that the valves open and close in sequence with the car pistons. In simple words, it synchronizes crankshaft and camshaft rotation. The timing belt also prevents the piston from striking the valves. The belt features a toothed design on the inner part to achieve synchrony as already mentioned. Use of timing belts enables automotive engine designers to place the camshaft away from the crankshaft. In engines with several camshafts, the timing belt enables all camshafts to be placed further from each other.
Timing Belt Maintenance
Timing belts must always be replaced according to a manufacturer’s recommended time period or distance. This is especially important for interference engine models. To be sure about when and how to replace the belt, refer to the manufacturer’s manual. In the absence of the manual, replace belt after every 30,000 to 50,000 miles.
The Serpentine Belt
The serpentine belt or the drive belt as it is also known, connected and operates several engine accessories. These include the air conditioner, the alternator and the water pump. Nearly all new Porsche models use the serpentine belt. Unlike the old multiple belt system, serpentine belts consume less space in the engine compartment. Car manufacturers also use single and wider belts instead of multiple thinner belts. This makes it easy for the belts to be put under increased tension without stretching.
Serpentine Belt Maintenance
Just like timing belts, Porsche serpentine belts have limited service life. Note that most new car warranties usually cover both the timing and serpentine belts if they break within a specified period. However, the warranties exclude other drive belts mainly because they are considered wear items. The replacement interval for serpentine belts changes depending on models, so you have to refer to your car manual to be sure about replacement. The need for replacement is mostly based on factors such as the belt condition. Either way, take time to inspect your serpentine belt after every 20,000 miles just to be sure it still has its grip intact. Then replace it after every 30,000 to 50,000 miles.
This is another key difference between serpentine and timing belts. Of the timing belt suddenly breaks while the vehicle is on the move, the pistons can easily strike and force the valves to open. This will in turn damage the cylinder head, the valves and the piston. The cost of repairs here would be huge. That is not case with the serpentine belt. If it breaks while the vehicle is one the move, everything driven by the belt will simply cease to operate. The alternator will fail, the air conditioning system will fail and the car simply won’t move until you replace the belt. It is also important to note that not all car models come along with timing belts.