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Cam Belt Query

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rsvp | 11:33 Mon 18th May 2020 | Motoring
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I have a Fiat Panda - year 2013 - mileage just under 20,000. On my last MOT there was an advisory to change the cam belt, due to the age of the car, not the mileage. Any advice welcomed as am happy to have it done if it's necessary due to the age of the belt making it more prone to breaking but don't want to incur the expense if the belt shouldn't just be replaced due to age. Thank you- ps I have absolutely no mechanical knowledge.

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The problem with not replacing your cam belt is that if it breaks then thats your engine kaput. It tends to shove the valves through the pistons.

I know this through bitter experience and also had to suffer 2 hours in the peeing rain on the M3 waiting for the AA to bother to turn up. For me it wasnt really a problem, the car was at end of life but a 2013 should have plenty of life in it.

So, do you feel lucky - as that is what it boils down to.
Yes...toss a coin. Many years ago, we had a Citroen ZX from new....had it nine years with about 50k miles and (despite yearly warnings) never had the belt changed and had no problems at all.
20,000 miles isn't much, but I've been told they can perish even faster if they're not being used. So.... yes, cross your fingers.
Fiat themselves recommend that the cam belt is changed every 120,000km or 74,564 miles in old mone. Or every 10 years, whichever comes first. Should be OK for at least 3 more years then.
....but, there again, Fiat has one of the worst reliability ratings in all the car reliability surveys. Hence, the "Fix It Again Tomorrow" slogan!
Question Author
Thank you everyone - indeed food for thought - think I'll contact Fiat directly....appreciate the replies. stay well
does the handbook say anything about when things need to be replaced?
sorry, didn't see Togo's post. On that basis, I'd be leaving it a year or two.
Basically you are gambling the cost of the cam belt replacement with the cost of a replacement car. If the belt snaps, as ymb says, your engine is finished and will probably need a complete rebuild at a cost far exceeding the cost of the belt replacement. If you are unlucky it could snap in a very awkward place - overtaking someone/crossing a roundabout etc. Bearing in mind the car might have been a year old when it was first registered I'd consider getting the belt changed with the next major service and certainly with the one after that.
the car is worth about £4k so I'd say spend the £250 ish to get it done.
Question Author
Have decided to go ahead and have it done - the manufacturers recommendation is every so many miles or every 5 years. As a completely non mechanical person it makes sense to do it this way - many thanks for the advice.
wise choice, you never know when they'll snap and when it does it won't be in a convenient place and your engine will be toast. Make sure you get a guarantee and a reputable garage. Some shysters out there. Even a new one can snap so make sure you keep all the paper work.
I didn't know an MOT test would give an advisory on a cam belt.
rsvp doesn't say which fuel he uses but an MoT on a diesel requires the engine to be run at full revs. They warn you of this but I suspect they check the age of the belt before carrying out the test just in case there is a danger of the belt breaking and them getting the blame. It could mean it's just habit for them to report the belt age, even for petrol engines.
the Cambelt is not part of the MOT, probably a separate suggestion from the garage hoping to get the work to change it.
As per Togo’s post – why would you carry out maintenance more frequently than the manufacturer recommends?

That said, if you regularly red line the engine, then by all means replace it.
But other than that, you need to know the cost of replacement in order to make a valid decision. Also bear in mind that it is normally recommended that other parts (such as idlers) are replaced at the same time, adding to the cost.

If it was me – given the low mileage, I’d leave it for another three years – at which time the cost of the belt change is likely to be un-economic versus the value of the car.
Question Author
Thank you everyone - my garage is very reputable - the advisory was due to the age of the car (8 )and in no way a recommendation I had the work done. So I contacted a Fiat garage who very clearly stated that the belt should be replaced every five years or a specific mileage so my garage was only affirming this, knowing I wouldn't have read my hand book from cover to cover. The decision was left entirely to me. Thank you for all the help and stay well

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