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Timing Belt Tensioner Replacement Cost Estimate

Worried you might overpay for your timing belt tensioner replacement? Use Jerry's GarageGuard to get fair cost estimate for your timing belt tensioner replacement.
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John Davis
Expert Automotive Writer
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Reviewed by Kathleen Flear, Director of Content
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Edited by Jessica Barrett, Senior Car & Insurance Editor

How much does it cost to replace a timing belt tensioner?

You can expect an average cost of $360-$460+ for a timing belt tensioner replacement, comprising of about $90-$130 for parts and $90-$150+ for mechanic labor. Prices can vary depending on factors like your mechanic and your vehicle.
How long does it take to replace a timing belt tensioner? A certified mechanic generally takes around 1-3 hours to complete the job. Your mechanic will start by conducting a preliminary inspection to diagnose the problem. If you need the timing belt tensioner replaced, they’ll follow through with the service.
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How did we estimate these prices?

Jerry's experts researched and collected data from 2500+ real repair shops in all 50 states in the US, including everything from the total cost of repair services to the hourly labor cost for mechanic labor in each shop. We combined that data with our expert database of hundreds of real repair jobs, thousands of real cars, millions of real car part prices in order to best estimate the cost of each repair service. Our labor cost estimate is calculated by taking the average hourly labor rate for a certified mechanic in the US, times the number of hours it takes on average to complete a repair. We recommend you compare your local shops with Jerry and contact those shops directly to get final pricing for your vehicle.

What parts do I need for my timing belt tensioner replacement and how much do those parts cost?

You can check your owner’s manual or ask your mechanic for precise parts, but here’s a general rundown:
  1. Timing belt tensioner: The timing belt tensioner is the main component in the replacement. The timing belt tensioner is responsible for maintaining the appropriate belt tension, preventing slippage, and ensuring smooth operation. On its own, a timing belt pulley costs anywhere from $20 to $125.
  2. Timing belt: When replacing your timing belt tensioner, your mechanic may determine that the entire timing belt needs replacement. A new timing belt typically ranges from $15 to $400.
  3. Timing belt pulley: The primary function of the pulley is to keep the timing belt aligned as it rotates around the crankshaft and camshafts, ensuring perfect synchronization. Individually, the cost of a timing belt pulley ranges from $35 to $80.
  4. Crankshaft and camshaft seals: These seals safeguard against oil leaks from both the crankshaft and camshaft. It’s advisable to replace these seals when performing a timing belt tensioner replacement while the engine is disassembled. Typically, crankshaft seals are priced at $10 to $60, while camshaft seals are available at prices ranging from $5 to $35.
  5. Water pump: The water pump is integrated into the cooling system and is operated by the timing belt. Once the timing belt is taken out, you can easily access the water pump. While it’s not necessary, consider replacing the water pump simultaneously with the timing belt pulley to prevent potential future labor expenses. The typical price range for a water pump is approximately $45 to $150.
We recommend purchasing these parts at local auto parts stores like AutoZone, Advance Auto Parts, and NAPA Auto Parts, as well as online retailers like Amazon and RockAuto. We also recommend reputable brands such as Gates, Aisin, Continental, and SKF to ensure a reliable and successful replacement. However, like price, recommended brands may also vary depending on your vehicle’s specific year, make, and model.
When considering replacing your timing belt tensioner, it’s a good idea to choose an aftermarket option instead of an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) one. In many cases, aftermarket timing belt components are not only more cost-effective but also tend to have a longer lifespan.
Timing belt tensioners can be found at automotive body shops and auto parts stores such as AutoZone, Advance Auto Parts and NAPA AutoParts but you can also buy them online from Amazon and RockAuto.
Important note: Your vehicle's owner manual contains all the specifications for replacement parts, which can guide you in finding the correct ones.
It is also worth mentioning that if you need to replace more than just the timing belt tensioner, it’s best to purchase an entire replacement timing belt kit.

Where can I get my timing belt tensioner replaced?

Finding a mechanic to replace your timing belt tensioner can be tricky, especially if you lack a trusted garage. The good news is that Jerry's
GarageGuard™
can help you compare prices from over 2,500 reputable auto repair shops across the US.
Jerry's GarageGuard™ assesses fair price estimates* from each auto shop, considering their hourly labor rate. By using Jerry's GarageGuard™, you can determine whether diagnostic fees are part of the service cost and access honest reviews to help you choose the optimal service.
Take a peek at some of our vetted shops mentioned below, and don't forget to download the app to compare car repair quotes in your area.
134 Reviews
The Phoenix Auto Repair
address
3715 Oregon Ave S, Minneapolis, MN
Shop Diagnostic Fee
(Included in service charges)
$0
144 Reviews
Bradley Automotive Center
address
Dudley25 King Spring Rd, Westfield, MA
Shop Diagnostic Fee
(Included in service charges)
$45
152 Reviews
Wrench Inc - MIA

Shop Diagnostic Fee
(Included in service charges)
$150
187 Reviews
1DM AUTO
address
7590 McGinnis Ferry Rd, Duluth, GA
Shop Diagnostic Fee
(Included in service charges)
$65
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How did we vet these shops?

Jerry experts researched 2500+ real repair shops across the US. We talked to real shop customers, and analyzed both real shop pricing data and thousands of real customer reviews from each shop to verify them individually. We do not partner with the shops listed above, and our analysis is always unbiased.

How will a mechanic replace my timing belt tensioner?

Here’s how a certified and experienced mechanic will carry out this repair for you:
  • Verify that the timing belt tensioner is the root of the problem.
  • Gain access to the timing belt tensioner. This typically involves removing the timing cover, timing belt pulley, and the timing belt itself.
  • Remove the bad timing belt tensioner and install the new one.
  • Reinstall the removed components (or replace them with new parts). The timing belt and idler pulley retaining bolt need certain amounts of tension, and elements of the timing system need to be aligned correctly, as the timing belt goes in.
  • Perform an engine test and then road test the vehicle for good measure to make sure everything is working perfectly.

What happens if I don’t replace my bad timing belt tensioner?

If you notice any problems with your timing belt tensioner, or your timing belt in general, you should act swiftly. A bad timing belt tensioner that is ignored can cause the following issues: 
  • Lower engine power, overheating engine, engine misalignment, misfires, or complete engine failure
  • Timing belt failure
  • Increased wear on other parts
  • Inability to start the vehicle or a sudden stop while driving
  • Costly repairs (which can exceed $1000)

What is a timing belt tensioner?

An engine’s valves, pistons, and crankshaft need to work in harmony together, with perfect timing. The timing belt makes sure that happens, running between all these important systems and keeping everything synchronized.
With time, however, timing belts expand as they get warmer and stretch out, which only worsens with age. The timing belt tensioner applies force to the timing belt, either through springs or hydraulics, to keep it firmly in place as it stretches out.
Pro tip: Your mechanic will likely recommend replacing your timing belt, water pump, and front seals when the timing belt tensioner gives out. It’s more expensive, but doing this now can save you money on labor costs later and prevent other problems too.

When should I replace the timing belt tensioner on my car?

Here are some of the warning signs of a bad timing belt tensioner:
  • Chirping, squealing, or rattling sounds, especially if they’re high pitched. Chirping sounds are usually belt-related, but keep in mind weird noises coming from your engine can mean all sorts of different things.
  • Rough engine performance is a later-stage warning sign.
  • Engine stalling or not starting. If the timing belt tensioner is too loose, the engine will have a hard time starting or might not start at all.
Keep in mind: These signs can vary depending on your car and its engine type. It's always best practice to consult your owner’s manual or ask a qualified mechanic to assess the condition of your tensioner.

How often should a timing belt tensioner be replaced?

There’s no recommended timeline when it comes to timing belt tensioner replacement. That said, you should generally replace your timing belt (and this often includes your tensioner) every 60,000 to 100,000 miles. 
Keep in mind: Every manufacturer specifies a different age or mileage limit for their timing belt parts, so be sure to refer to your owner’s manual or consult with a certified mechanic.
Pro tip: For prevention purposes, make sure to inspect your tensioner each time you service your vehicle in order to monitor its condition. 

Can I replace my timing belt tensioner myself?

While you can certainly attempt to replace your timing belt tensioner on your own, you need to be confident in your auto repair and DIY skills. Replacing this part is a somewhat complicated procedure that requires direct interaction with your engine. 
For the average driver, we recommend seeking the assistance of a professional mechanic.

FAQs

It’s not recommended that you drive a car with a bad timing belt tensioner because it can quickly lead to severe engine damage.
If you don’t replace your timing belt tensioner, the tensioner could fail, which results in the car not being able to start, or it could stall out and stop working while you’re driving. If the timing belt breaks or comes loose, it can cause catastrophic damage to your engine resulting in very expensive repairs.
It takes approximately 1-3 hours to replace your timing belt tensioner.
The timing belt replacement cost is typically around $0.

Meet Our Experts

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John Davis
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Car Expert
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Certified mechanic with 10+ years of experience
John Davis is an expert automotive writer and former automotive mechanic. John's work spans multiple categories, and he relishes the opportunity to research a new subject and expand his area of expertise and industry knowledge. To date, John has written more than 200 articles covering car maintenance and care, car advice, how-to guides, and more.
Prior to joining Jerry’s editorial team, John worked as a mechanic and freelance writer, creating content for clients including HotCars and SetPower.
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Jessica Barrett
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Car Expert
Jessica Barrett is a senior insurance writer and editor with 10 years of experience in the automotive and travel industries. A specialist in car insurance, car loans, and car ownership, Jessica’s mission is to create comprehensive content that car owners can use to manage their costs and improve their lives. As a managing editor for a team of writers and insurance specialists, Jessica has edited over 2,000 articles for Jerry on topics ranging from local insurance shopping tips to refinancing car loans with bad credit.
Before joining Jerry as a senior content editor in 2021, Jessica created visual content for clients such as Expedia, Vivid Seats, Budget Direct Car Insurance, Angie’s List, and HomeAdvisor. Her content was published in Business Insider, Forbes, Apartment Therapy, and the BBC.
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Kathleen Flear
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Car Expert
Kathleen Flear is an expert insurance writer and editor who heads up Jerry’s editorial team as director of content. Kathleen empowers drivers to make smart car ownership decisions through  best-in-class articles on insurance, loans, and maintenance. Prior to joining Jerry in 2021, Kathleen served as managing editor for a team of SEO content marketing professionals at Article-Writing.co and worked as a freelance writer and editor for a range of digital publications, including Chicago Literati magazine and Golden Words. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English language and literature from Queen’s University, and a master’s degree in creative writing and fiction from Sierra Nevada University.
*The price information provided on our car repair webpages is intended for general informational purposes only. Actual prices for car repair services may vary based on various factors, including but not limited to the make and model of your vehicle, the extent of repair required, and the prevailing market conditions. All prices for real repair shops are estimations based on our research only. Therefore, the prices listed on our webpages should not be considered as final quotes or binding offers.