Updated on 07.29.14

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Timing Belt Edition

Trent Hamm

Recently, I had to replace the timing belt on our Honda Pilot. I tried to figure out how to do it myself, but the intricacy of it was just too far over my head, so I took it to a shop instead.

This is exactly why it’s good to have an emergency fund. This kind of financial bomb can be devastating without one.

First, a few links to my own work found on other sites.

An Old Camera Creates a Treasure Hunter I wrote this article for HP that tells the story of how my son utilized an old digital camera and discovered a lost item with the pictures he’d taken.

After clicking around on the site above, I noticed that they had a contest where you can win a bunch of prizes by submitting your own story about an item that had an unexpected return on your investment.

Let Uncle Sam Work for You: 4 Great Government Resources for Small Businesses This is another article I wrote over at Open Forum, discussing how to utilize things that are just sitting out there, waiting to be used. (@ open forum)

Now for some personal finance articles from around the web.

Creating a mail center in your home This is easily the biggest organization challenge we have in our home. It has a lot of personal finance implications, too, in the sense that unorganized mail can hide unpaid bills. (@ unclutterer)

The Essential Power of Surrounding Yourself With Like-Minded People… There’s definitely something big to this. However, on the flip side of that coin, you have the problem of missing out on a variety of viewpoints. I think like-minded people can help you move forward in some ways, whereas a diverse crowd can help you in other ways. (@ man vs. debt)

How to Get Rich Quick This formula is pretty certain to work! You just have to have a job that pays $100,000 more a year than you actually spend. Good luck with that! (@ free money finance)

Should You Get Your Bonus When Quitting Your Job? When you’re working for someone, you have a contract. Both sides are obligated to only fulfill that contract. A bonus goes beyond that contract, usually with an employer showing thanks to a good employee. However, unless the contract says so, the company isn’t obligated to give anyone a dime in bonuses. If you bank your future on “two birds in the bush,” you’ll eventually pay the price. (@ darwin’s finance)

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  1. Ahh, the timing belt. I watched my dad fight with car repairs my whole life and it somewhat tainted my view of self-repair. I now pay for oil changes and repairs and try to save money elsewhere like mowing my own lawn and doing home repairs/upgrades myself. But cars…just something about memories of cursing and oil-soaked clothes has always left me with scars :>

    Thanks for including my article from Darwin’s Finance, really a lesson learned there on what “not” to do when resiging.

  2. valleycat1 says:

    Mail Center – we don’t have a “mail center” as such, but most of the disposition options are within a few feet. We are in the habit of making sorting the mail part of collecting the mail (so we don’t go out to get it unless we have a minute or two) – recycle/shred/toss the junk, put the (few) hardcopy bills we still receive – along with other items we need to track – in the tickler file system, and put reading materials in their spot. Done!

    We apply the same idea in a lot of areas(basically, see a job through to completion): doing laundry includes folding & putting it away; cooking includes cleaning up afterward; playtime includes putting away the toys/games afterward, etc.

  3. Chris Gagner @ SmartPF says:

    Timing belts are the worst when the break. I ended up on the side of the road a few months ago in my Ford Escort. Luckily, it didn’t damage the engine and they were able to fix it. It only cost around $500!! That will take a nice chunk out of an emergency fund.

  4. Aaron says:

    Being a do-it-yourselfer myself I have fixed my cars a lot! From axles to fuel pumps. (BTW, the fuel pump on an Excursion is a bear!) Oil changes are of course the simplest. The timing belt is one thing that will take me to a shop every time! I’m sure I could do it, but, my time has some value! The time I end up saving on that will be well spent being assured it’s done right.

  5. lurker carl says:

    The timing belt is a maintenance item, similar to tires and oil changes, that requires replacement. A known expense should not be an emergency.

  6. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    “The timing belt is a maintenance item, similar to tires and oil changes, that requires replacement. A known expense should not be an emergency.”

    It is when you have a defective one and it frays out early.

  7. AndreaS says:

    Valleycat1 is exactly right. The key is to do things all the way. I’ve known people to do a renovation project 95%, and never quite get around to the other 5% for decades. So I am a stickler in finishing jobs all the way, even if I am tired. A house renovation is not done until the work area is clean and all tools are put away. Mail can be placed in a temporary holding spot, but then it needs to be dealt with completely, including the final filing of important papers.

    As for stuff, the key to controlling disorder is having designated places where things belong, and always putting things down in their proper place. I do have some holding areas… things to go upstairs can stay in a small pile in the bottom of the stairs until my next trip up. But rarely does my pile have more than three items.

    Similarly I never understand how people let their cars get so cluttered. Every time you get out of your car remove everything that doesn’t belong there permanently; surplus jackets, empty food containers, shopping bags and so on. Then put those things in their proper place once you get in your house. If you have a habit of just dropping all that stuff right inside the door, then you will always have a clutter heap in that spot.

    My husband is bad about keeping his workshop neat, but he doesn’t take the time to put things away when he finishes projects, or doesn’t put things away a few times mid-project. So the disorder from a project will still be there weeks or even months later. This makes it hard for me to find tools, and it is hard to work in that space. I said to him it is the same as making a meal. You wash the dishes the same day you prepare the food.

    This doesn’t mean my house is always in perfect order. It means that if company is coming, it takes me about two minutes to pick up the five items out of place. I know people who need days to prepare if company is coming.

  8. Kat says:

    Trent, your timing belt wore out at the exact moment Honda timing belts do, not early. If you look back to your post when you bought it, some people pointed out that if the previous owner hadn’t just replaced it, you should. Replacing the timing belt in Hondas at 100k miles is routine maintenance, and as you bought the car at 90k miles, you should have planned for this.

  9. Charles says:

    Ouch! Timing belts are expensive! I think newer cars having chains and do not require frequent change like the belt version.

  10. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    I did replace it. This one went bad at the 10K mile mark.

  11. Almost there says:

    Hope there was a warranty on the work since the timing belt didn’t last very long. My honda element has a timing chain. No belt, yay. My Saturn vue has the same engine as the Pilot but many miles yet before the belt needs attention.

  12. Bri says:

    Timing belts are of the devil. Timing chains are the way to go. I had to replace my timing belt and water pump last week (oh, and while we were working on your car, we found these three other issues that we think you should fix immediately lest you be left on the side of the road in psycho killer territory). Yay emergency fund.

  13. Gretchen says:

    So the car only has 10K on it or you’ve already driven it 10k?

    Isn’t that under warranty?

  14. Lesley says:

    Timming belts are pretty bad, I am so glad I married into a family of mechanics. My car shouldn’t even be running if it wasn’t for my father in law. With the bad economy he does of lot of work trades, like his neighbor paints his porch while he replaces the brakes on his car. No money exchanged, just services.

  15. Bill says:

    You need some professional advice here, either:
    1) They didn’t actually change the old one and a honest mechanic should be able to tell by the condition of the belt.
    2) They did the work wrong and should make it good.
    3) The part was defective and the manufacture should make it good.

    Still rotten luck on your part. Hope it broke somewhere convenient.

  16. lurker carl says:

    The timing belt is rather well concealed so a frayed belt isn’t something you’d notice. What were the symptoms that lead to the discovery? The few times I’ve heard of premature timing belt failure is when it was damaged as a tensioner, idler bushing or water pump wore out.

  17. Heather says:

    I loved reading about the scavenger hunt. We’ve let our almost six year old take pictures with the digital camera for several years. The unexpected side effect was seeing the world from his level which many times meant in a completely different way. Every time we upload pictures, we never know what we’re going to find. Thanks for sharing that!

  18. Charles Cohn says:

    I have replaced tining belts a number of times with no particular problems. This job has a lot of steps, but none of them is especially difficult. The most important way to make the job easier is to invest in a factory shop manual for the car in question. It will provide detailed step-by-step instructions for the job. These manuals are expensive, but they are a great help in understanding your car and are very useful. It’s the first thing I always get for any car I buy.

  19. reulte says:

    I usually buy a manual for my car and find it very useful in being able to knowledgeably discuss my car with the mechanic — even if I don’t use it to replace filters or head gaskets.

  20. Vicky says:

    Trent, I’ve read your blog for years. Thank you for writing it! I have gotten some great tips, and even more food for thought. I comment on articles maybe once or twice a year and I have to tell you that I admire your calmness. I don’t understand why there are so many remarks such as these on how/why/when you replaced your timing belt. I’m constantly amazed at how many people approach your personal topics with a critical eye. Anyway, thank you for opening up your life.

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