timing belt change needed?

My '91 Miata has about 29K real miles on the odometer and has never had the timing belt changed. Should the belt be changed, or should it still
be good for 60K, despite its age?
-
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i had also a low milages 72.000 KM and had it replaced 2 years ago. recomendations are 100.000 KM or 10yrs.

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ok, 60,000 miles or ten years... but i have a '95 with 100,000 and no records or memory of the previous owner having changed the timing belt though she owned it since 30,000... so is there an easy way to check it? some cars have peep holes for inspection for instance. of course i would rather wait until it hits 120,000 but perhaps i should have it done to be safe. all comments welcome and appreciated. thank you!
ps. garage recommendations welcome for the greater metro nyc area appreciated.

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Christopher Muto wrote:

There is no easy way to check it that I know of. I have heard of people pulling 100K timing belts off that looked like they had plenty of life in them, and I have also heard of 60K belts that were already showing cracks. At 10 years and 100K miles, your's will definitely have some wear, but it could also easily make it to 120,000, or even 220,000, as I saw a Toyota Camry do one time. By the time that Camry died, almost everything had been replaced except for the engine & timing belt. Of course, your belt could also easily break during this time as well.
FWIW, I planned to replace the belt on my last miata at 100K miles before it was totaled. I have heard of very few timing belts going out before then. My main concern was having it go out on a long-distance trip. Here in Austin I can either replace it myself or we have an excellent shop that specializes in miatas and charges very reasonable rates. Out on the road we are at the mercy of whatever shop is nearby when the car breaks down.
pat
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Thank you for your insight. If I were to read between the lines I suppose you are saying it is entirely possible and highly likely that it was never replaced and essentially impossible to tell by visual inspection if it had or had not been done. Sounds like I should make this a priority over cosmetic upgrades that I was considering. Thanks again.

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Christopher Muto wrote:

yes, if no service records were kept that mention a replacement, I would assume that it is the original belt.

That's probably more practical, but imo, a broken-down miata with a racing beat nose will at least look better than a broken-down miata with the stock nose. :-)

No problem and good luck on the work. It is not a really hard job to do, but mechanics tend to charge a lot for it so it can be good to shop around since any competent mechanic can do it. You will probably save some money by buying the parts first from Trussville or Mazda South.
It would also be a good idea to replace the water pump at this time, a friend of mine had her timing belt replaced about a year ago at 100K+ miles and they decided to reuse the water pump because it looked ok. That water pump just started to go out and it would have been much better to spend $75.00 or so for a new one at that time than buying it now and paying for the labor again.
pat
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When you buy a used car, it's a good practice to make sure all the maintenance is up to date--a "baseline" for future maintenance. In addition to the timing belt, change all the fluids and both fuel filters, plus the air filter, spark plugs, and plugwires. While you're in there, clean all the chassis and engine ground points.
And Pat is right on target about the water pump. I skipped it at 60k, and it started leaking at 114k. Replace the TB idler and tensioner pulleys, too.
--
Lanny Chambers, St. Louis, USA
'94C
the alignment page:
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wrote:

According to miata.net the following parts should be replaced:
Timing Belt, Valve Cover Gasket, Front Crankshaft Seal, Accessory Belts (they need to be removed anyway, so it can't hurt to replace them now instead of waiting until they break), Anti-Freeze, (You need to drain it anyway, so you might as well do it now.), Woodruff Key, Camshaft seals, Water pump.
I agree the idler and tensioner pulleys should be replaced also.
A word about the camshaft seals, you don't need to replace them but they're very likely to begin leaking a few miles after the timing belt is replaced as mine are doing now. If they'd been replaced with the timing belt I'd be waaaaaaaaay ahead financially.
Notice almost all the parts recommended are going to be free of labor since you're going to be in there anyway.
You can bet when I replace my leaking camshaft seals the almost new timing belt, water pump and accessory belts are going into the trash, I'm NOT GOING TO DO THIS AGAIN!
There's no possible way I can afford to do this so it's even more likely I can't afford to do it over, right?
Damn, I'd like to find the moron who replaced my timing belt w/o replacing seals.... I have a couple of words I'd like to say to him.
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wrote:

Why should the camshaft seals start leaking because you replaced the belt?
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For the same reason you'll have a flat tire if you leave the jack home, Murphy's Law. Since you'll have to repeat all the labor of changing the timing belt in order to replace them of course they'll start leaking if you don't change them the first time.
BTW, If you do change them, they'll be in perfect condition and could have gone a million miles w/o leaking, that's also due to Murphy's Law.
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wrote:

Is the woodruff key also know as the timing tensioner spring? Also, is replacing the timing belt tensioner pulley recommended/necessary? This is for a '95 Tripple Black. Thanks.
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No, it's the key that keeps the crankshaft sprocket from turning on the crank shaft. Sometimes they tend to wear so replacement will keep things tight.

It can't hurt but I'd check it very carefully and then decide.
Take a look here:
http://www.miata.net/garage/timingbelt.html
Be sure to scroll down to the bottom so you read the whole thing, then at the top click on the "additional photos" link, you'll see the Woodruff key sticking out in the pic of the crankshaft sprocket after removal of the pulley.
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wrote:

was
My Mazda dealer recommended against an automatic water pump change. They preferred to inspect the existing pump and decide on that basis. I was completely prepared to pay for a new pump and said so. I don't know why they would follow this policy if it wasn't sound I know, I know - they're hoping for a bigger repair bill later. Except I don't believe that. A few examples of pumps failing shortly after a belt change doesn't prove anything. In your example, you were practically due for a new belt anyway.
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Bad idea. In 50 years of fooling with cars professionally and as a hobbyist, I've never seen a water pump that looked any different before failing. A brand new pump looks exactly like an old one the day before it starts "weeping" and once they do begin to weep, the life span is usually only days.

I have no idea why they'd do that?

What does prove something is that the belt replacement is recommended at 60,000 miles and the life span of the water pump is usually figured to be 50,000 miles. The pump should be automatically replaced unless it's already been done, but if that were the case wouldn't the timing belt have also been replaced at the same time?
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wrote:

By whom? 50,000 miles for the water pump's life span sounds awfully short.
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It's actually fairly long, 30,000 miles might be a bit closer to average.
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wrote:

So if you change the pump when you change your belt at 60K, then you've beaten the average water pump life by a factor of 100%? Then the average guy is going to have to change the water pump TWICE for every belt change? I don't think so.
You really ought to think these things through before you make up your "facts".
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The fact is I've got 50 years changing water pumps, starters, alternators, clutches, transmissions, engines, etc. I also can read. One of the things I can read is odometers. The 30,000 mile figure came from Consumer Reports in an article about buying used cars some years back. The later water pumps on some Japanese cars do last longer but 30,000 miles is still close to an overall average.
You really ought to think these things through and do a little research before you post.
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Gee, how much later on Japanese cars. I just sold a 1989 Camry 4 cyl with 232.000 + miles on it. Two belt changes and a clutch at 225,00. The water pump was still going when I sold it. You might think more about changing your coolant mix more. That is the real killer of water pumps ! People just don't pay attention to the coolant like they should !!
Bruce RED '91
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What brand of car? What era? My old car (Toyota) went 175,000 on the original water pump. The car got retired for other reasons but the water pump was still going strong.
-John
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