Is all the hype about changing a timing belt at 60k miles just that? Hype?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Sep 01, 1996

Dear Tom and Ray:

My Toyota dealer keeps sending advertisements warning me of the dire
consequences that may befall me if I do not change my timing belt at 60,000
miles. Do I really need to replace the timing belt on my 1990 Corolla
(which now has 60,000 miles) or is this just hype? -- Bruce

TOM: It all depends upon whether or not you consider getting stranded a
dire consequence, Bruce.

RAY: Timing belts do last about 60,000 miles. And after that, they're
likely to break with absolutely no warning. One minute they're fine; the
next minute you're twiddling your thumbs by the side of the road.

TOM: And on certain, specific cars, the consequences are, in fact, quite
dire. Honda engines and many Nissan engines, for example, crush their own
valves when the timing belt breaks, leading to very expensive engine
rebuilds -- or last rites (for the cars, that is).

RAY: But on your Toyota, it's simply a matter of getting stranded, Bruce.
So if you never go further than walking distance from home or public
transportation, and if you can afford to be without the car for a few days
(or over a weekend) with no notice when the belt breaks, then don't change
it. Just wait it out.

TOM: But if it would be inconvenient or detrimental to your health to be
making a left turn in front of an oncoming tractor trailer when the belt
decides to break, I'd go ahead and change it. It only costs a couple of
hundred dollars. Plus, you're going to have to do it eventually anyway. Why
not do it now and save yourself the trouble of having to try to make
intelligent conversation about Rottweilers with the guy who drives the tow

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