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Discussion Starter #1
As a new Owner of a 4C, from all I had read, I felt pretty good on the long term maintenance costs I expected with the car. But I recently found out that the engine requires the timing belt to be changed every 5 years, no matter how low the mileage is. I was a bit shocked to find this out as most cars go much longer before requiring timing belt replacement. I remember from my days of owning GTV-6's and Milano's, everyone complained about the belt needing replacement at 30,000 miles, but it seems Alfa took a step backwards with the new engine belt interval. I am curious if anyone knows why this engine needs the belts changed so often, regardless of how few miles it may be driven per year.

I was banking on the fact that my 4C will probably see about 2k-3k miles per year (due to the nature of when I drive the car, and the amount of cars I have that need to be driven), so my long term maintenance costs would be pretty low.

Jim
 

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As a new Owner of a 4C, from all I had read, I felt pretty good on the long term maintenance costs I expected with the car. But I recently found out that the engine requires the timing belt to be changed every 5 years, no matter how low the mileage is. I was a bit shocked to find this out as most cars go much longer before requiring timing belt replacement. I remember from my days of owning GTV-6's and Milano's, everyone complained about the belt needing replacement at 30,000 miles, but it seems Alfa took a step backwards with the new engine belt interval. I am curious if anyone knows why this engine needs the belts changed so often, regardless of how few miles it may be driven per year.

I was banking on the fact that my 4C will probably see about 2k-3k miles per year (due to the nature of when I drive the car, and the amount of cars I have that need to be driven), so my long term maintenance costs would be pretty low.

Jim
A step backwards? You’ve never owned a Twinspark, obviously....That timing belt change interval (3yrs recommended) deserved a class action. Five years is pretty reasonable in the world of Alfa.
Generally, it’s not the belt but the tensioner that goes or the water pump seal so best to replace all three at the same time. False economy not to....Then there’s the accessories belt...
 

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5 years is quite reasonable. My buddy's Lotus Elise needs it every 4.
I had the timing belt replaced after 5 years and low-ish mileage. Dealership said it was probably not strictly necessary in their opinion, but given that it was not expensive at all* why take the risk?
(*If you want to know what expensive is, ask around what it would cost on a Delta Integrale or Fiat Coupe - never mind something more exotic).
I'd say it is better to spend your time asking around on the price of a cambelt exchange than it is to spend it on worrying about when it will cause your engine to eat itself. If anyone says they need to take the engine out, walk away.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Not looking to take any risks, just looking for other's thoughts on the 5 year interval thing. My car is a 2016 and has 3,500 miles (I just purchased it, so don't flame me for not driving it enough :)), so I guess I will need to replace the belt in 2021. Since all my other current vehicles have timing chains, it has never been something I had to worry about. In the past, I have replaced the belt on a Milano Verde and an older VW Jetta, though I am thinking I will likely have the 4C belt done by someone with experience on them. I am going to my local Alfa dealer this week to get a state inspection done (required my the state for me to register it) as well as the first oil change, so I hope to get a feel then how good they are with working on the 4C (I have been told they have 2 guys certified to work on the car). I am in Baltimore, MD, so if anyone has experience dealing with the dealer in Owings Mills, let me know your opinion of them (you can PM me if you want).

Jim
 
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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for the info. I was thinking/hoping it was around that price (or less).
 

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I can't think of another car with a timing belt that has a recommended change interval longer than 5 years. That's pretty much how long rubber can safely last on an interference engine. Has nothing to do with Alfa.

Don't congratulate yourself too much on having cars with chains (especially long chains). They stretch and go too. Difference is there is no mandatory replacement interval to protect you. So you need to pay attention. The only engines I've lost due to valve/piston contact were timing chain engines.
 

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So this is interesting as I'm at the 5 year point with 34K miles. So the recommendation from here is replace timing belt, replace water pump seal (?), replace tensioners (?), replace accessory belt (?). I know I should dive into the manual for the maintenance recommendations, but it's New Year's morning and my head hurts. Are all the above the right things to do? Has anyone done all these things? How much did it cost? I saw the $1100 estimate for just the timing belt, but is there more info from the hive mind?
 

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So this is interesting as I'm at the 5 year point with 34K miles. So the recommendation from here is replace timing belt, replace water pump seal (?), replace tensioners (?), replace accessory belt (?). I know I should dive into the manual for the maintenance recommendations, but it's New Year's morning and my head hurts. Are all the above the right things to do? Has anyone done all these things? How much did it cost? I saw the $1100 estimate for just the timing belt, but is there more info from the hive mind?
It is what I have done with all of my Alfas. I’m still 12 months away from replacement with my 4C but my Twinspark is coming up for its timing belt change in October and all items will be changed. It’s not worth skimping.
 

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Guys, water pumps are cheap. Water pump labor is expensive.

For those who need to justify water pump replacement, you're paying for a part. Labor is essentially free. So, rule of thumb is to include it.

Would suck to have some cheap part fail later, overheat your engine and require more labor. Overheat an alum engine and I'll wager it will never be right again.

Also, not all engines are interference engines. The 4C engine goes into the trash bin when the timing belt breaks.

Other cars with non-interference engines will have timing belt intervals twice as long, because they are just an inconvenience when they break.
 

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So I'd imagine this is preventative maintenance at the 5 year mark? Regardless of mileage? There's probably no way to inspect or gauge the belt?

My last car with a timing belt was a MKV GTI and I did the belt @ ~110k or so.
 

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Gti: non interference engine.

Yes, do a visual guess on whether a rubber belt might ruin your engine. /sarcasm

Peace. I'm out.
 

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So I'd imagine this is preventative maintenance at the 5 year mark? Regardless of mileage? There's probably no way to inspect or gauge the belt?

My last car with a timing belt was a MKV GTI and I did the belt @ ~110k or so.
Usage wears it out and atmosphere/environment deteriorate materials over time. Thats the reason you have miles or years, whatever comes first.

Then engine design decides if a snapped belt ruins the engine or not. In our case, it does, so you dont want to be at the limit. So most likely it will last longer. But if you don't have money for replacing timing belt, you certainly don’t have money for buying a new engine.

I suggest you google it, should be relatively OK to understand. Understanding is fun:) Comparing two different cars/engines is pointless.
 

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Then engine design decides if a snapped belt ruins the engine or not. In our case, it does, so you dont want to be at the limit. So most likely it will last longer. But if you don't have money for replacing timing belt, you certainly don’t have money for buying a new engine.

I suggest you google it, should be relatively OK to understand. Understanding is fun:) Comparing two different cars/engines is pointless.
Had no idea about the different timing belt engine designs. Good to know though!

My last three cars all had chains, so I barely remember what life with a belt was like.

I'm at 41k on a 2015 LE, so I'll probably be preparing for a belt change this year.
 

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The info (i.e., an interference engine means pistons 'n' valves smash into each other with broken belt) was covered in this thread about engine designs.

We were moving on to "Why you always replace water pump with timing belt change..."

My New Year Resolution: Take deep breaths and post less sarcastically.

Fun, super extra, number one, big time bonus info: Italian sports car builders are notorious for their complicated and expensive cam belt (timing belt) changes and rigorous maintenance schedules with them. As part of the culture of buying an Italian sports car (e.g, Ferrari), the first question is usually, "Did it have a cam belt service recently?" It's that big of a deal.

When building the 4C and then determining the maintenance schedules for cam belts, you have engineers who know what happens to Italian sports cars: The engine bay might dry rot from infrequent or pathetically low use. OR, the belts, when used, aren't exactly doing ho hum driving -- they are getting thrashed about. SO, five years is a modest limit, and given the lowish cost, it's pretty understandable how they determined it to be a sound time for a belt change, and hey... it's not an engine out procedure running 4,000 bucks or higher.

.
 

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OK, so we're getting there:
  1. Replace timing belt. This is about $1,100 according to one estimate someone reported above.
  2. Replace water pump (or perhaps replace water pump seal), which is not (?) required or called for in the maintenance schedule, but since it's relatively cheap (?) it should be done at the same time as the timing belt replacement, and perhaps it's easier to do this at that time because the repairs are related in some way (?). But so far we haven't seen a cost figure for this that anyone has heard (?).
  3. Do something with timing belt tensioners, but that something is still TBD (?).
Each question mark represents some additional data that would be welcomed by me at least if anyone knows.
 
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