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90,000 Mile Timing Belt Replacement


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I made contact with a Lexus service manager at a local dealership. I asked about the 90,000 mile timing belt replacement recommended in my '98 SC400 owner's maintenance manual. Here's what he wrote back:

"A Lexus timing belt at 90,000 miles frequently looks practically brand new. Fortunately, the Lexus V8 is not an "interference engine." If the belt breaks, the engine stops but the valves do not crash into the pistons. Your belt is just as likely to fail from leaking oil seal contamination or a failing belt tensioner as # of miles. That said, age (heat) is a major enemy.  If you don't mind the engine possibly quitting in an unsafe traffic situation & the extra cost & inconvenience of a tow job, you can just wait for belt failure. If that sounds too risky, pay someone a couple hours labor to inspect the belt, tensioner, seals, water pump etc...By the way, tensioners & belts should be replaced together, otherwise the tensioner frequently fails shortly after belt replacement & wipes out the new belt. Same goes for the water pump."

Does anyone have a different opinion?

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Do yourself a favor and replace the belt, tensioner, cam and oil seals, and water pump at 90,000. The peace of mind is worth the service. You might also check the serpentine belt tensioner at the same time.

My mechanic forgot to do so and his assistant noticed the belt was beginning to fray when he replaced the power steering pump a few thousand miles later. Unfortunately, he thought a rock or something had somehow spun up into the belt thus causing it to begin to seperate. He replaced the belt and about 1500 miles later I shredded it bigtime. We replaced the tensioner (or idler-whatever they call it) and belt and all has been fine since.

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