Difference between drive belt and timing belt

With the article covering both the drive belt and timing belt, we saw they are related, which made us drop their differences. The two are made of the same material and they use to drive different components in internal combustion engines. Their designs are quite different since their position in the engine is not the same. The two-belt work with a tensioner, giving it enough strength to drive the components.

difference between drive belt and timing belt

in the drive belt article, we explained a timing belt as a type of drive belt and we said a serpentine belt is a single drive belt used to drive all the peripheral components. so today we’ll be looking at the major difference between a drive belt and a timing belt since they are quite related.


Drive Belt

A drive belt which is also known as a serpentine belt or alternator belt is a rubber belt that powers the engine accessories. It performs critical functions, which when it breaks down the engine won’t work well or can break down as well. The engine alternator, power steering pump, water pump, air conditioning compressor, etc. are driving the drive belt.

Almost all modern engines use multiple drive belts to at least drive two or more components. This makes it a bit more complex to change and most DIYers won’t be able to change them. There is a chance for drivers to drive home when one the belt breaks down, depending on what the belt powers.

For older vehicles that drive with the serpentine belt, which drives all the above-listed components with a single drive, it’s easy to maintain, change, less complex, and make space available around the engine. But drivers are more likely to be at the roadside as soon as the belt breaks down.

Just as what brought us here, drive belt is much related to timing belt in material but there is a difference in their design and functions. The drive belt usually lasts for at least 10,000 miles. When viewed, it’s visible from the side in front-wheel-drive cars, and in rear-wheel-drive cars, it’s visible from the front. Older engine designs and rear-wheel-drive cars use the drive belt to drive the engine fan.

Timing belt

The timing belt connects two important components in internal combustion engines. The camshaft and crankshaft are connected so that the engine components such as the valves and piston synchronize timings. This ensures perfect compression and combustion cycles, making the engine work as expected.

The rotation of the timing belt controls the opening and closing of the intake and exhaust valves. This allows air and fuel to enter the combustion chamber at the proper time and lets the exhaust gas escape. With this, the reciprocating movement of the piston is controlled, which then turns the crankshaft that powers the camshaft. Now you can see the same energy is used to control the camshaft.

A timing belt typically has teeth that mesh with the teeth on the sprockets on the components it powers. This is why the synchronization between the camshaft and crankshaft is maintained. This also eliminates slippage among the components as the belt and sprockets are perfect mesh. In a drive belt tension is used to avoid slippage but, it’s different in the case of a timing belt.

Watch the video on how the timing belt works:

A timing belt is so useful in vehicles that it breaks down and completely stops the engine. The belts are hardly seen in the engine as they are covered to protect it from interference that may occur when the engine is working. Engines that leak oil can cause a timing belt to slip, this is why a mechanic will fix a leaking engine before changing the belts.

In some engine designs, some other components like the oil pump, water pump, and injection pump are driven by the timing belt. Timing belts can serve for a long period of time before replacement, at least 3 to 5 years which is about 30,000 – 40,000 miles. Other factors like the road conditions and weather where the vehicle is used can cause a quick breakdown of the belts.

What is the difference between a drive belt and a timing belt?

With the explanation of two belts that drive engine components am sure you can derive their difference. if you still can’t, don’t worry I got you covered. Below is the difference between the drive belt and the timing belt in tabular form:

S/NDrive BeltTiming Belt
1.The drive critical components of the vehicle (alternator, fan, )Two essential components that cause the engine to work are powered (camshaft and crankshaft)
2.All components begin work immediately after the engine starts running.The two components are synchronized
3.It can be complex when multiple belts are used to power the components.Its working is less complex as it uses one drive belt to drive the components
4.Drive belts are less expensive,Timing belts are expensive.
5.The damage to the drive belt will cause the device it power to stop workingDamage to the timing belt will cause a breakdown of the vehicle.
6.Modern engines are designed to use multiple belts to power different components.Timing belts use just a single belt to drive the components.
7.Drive belts are mounted on the tensioner pulley to avoid slipping.Timing belts are attached to components that carry sprockets on them. This ensures the synchronization of the systems.
8.A broken drive belt may cause a complete breakdown of the engine.While a broken timing belt will stop the engine from working, no component in the engine is damaged.

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Final words

In conclusion, the two devices are an important driving component that serves various purposes, which are explained above. Well, we’ve examined the difference between a drive belt and a timing belt. I hope you enjoyed the reading, if so, kindly comment, share, and recommend this site to other technical students. Thanks!

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