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My Automotive FAQ - Servicing the 3S-GTE Timing Belt

Toyota recommends replacing the timing belt every 60K miles.  If you are not mechanically inclined, this little procedure will cost you upwards in the neighborhood of $300-500 for labor, and an additional $50 to 200 for parts.

This is not a "How-to" article; you can find that info in a Chilton's or Toyota factory service manual.  But, rather, this is a few notes to consider when thinking about servicing your engine's timing belt.

My personal feelings are they the 60K interval is a bit short.   With my '90 Celica GT-S, I successfully extended this interval to 70 K, for three consecutive changes.  Yes, I changed it at 87K, 144K, and 210K.  Yes, check the maintenance log for yourself.  And even when I did change the belt, it showed no visible signs of cracks, or other stress which would have caused a failure.  While your mileage may vary, I have no problem extending this replacement interval to 70K or perhaps 75K miles.   That said, you should come to your own conclusion as it is your decision.

While the timing belt is serviced, a few other components worth review for possible replacement because access to these parts is straightforward and simple once the timing belt is out of the way.  These items include, but are not limited to, the following:

water pump oil pump o-ring oil-pump shaft seal both idlers hydraulic tensioner cam seals RH engine mount

It makes loads of sense to inspect and possibly replace these parts while you're already paying the labor for the timing belt.  The additional labor cost to service these items is likely negligible when they are serviced along with the timing belt.  However, servicing any of these individual items will result in a labor bill in excess of that for the timing belt alone. 

Note: For high-performance engines, this is the opportune time to install adjustable cam gears.  If you do so, you may want to modify your upper timing belt cover to ease access to the cam gears.  I have modified my cover in this manner as this photo depicts.  The cover cuts very easily with a hack saw.  In this configuration, the top portion of the cover is removed by removal of the top two retaining bolts, which are easily accessible with the engine in the car.

As always, your mileage may vary and your decision is your decision.  So, consult a reputable mechanic.   In Houston, I recommend Gullo Toyota.

Good luck, and happy motoring.

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