When it comes to engines, the two things to know are "interference" engines and "non-interference" engines. Interference engines have a very small amount of clearance between the valves and pistons, while non-interference engines tend to have a lot more clearance. The two types of engines make a major difference when figuring out how bad a timing belt failure can be for your engine. In an interference engine, with little clearance between the valves and pistons, a slip or break in the belt can send a piston into an open valve. When this happens, it is similar to the engine self-destructing, causing a catastrophic failure. However, a timing belt failure in a non-interference engine will not be that damaging, it can still cause a great deal of damage to other engine components but will not cause a catastrophic failure. The timing belt is a very important component when it comes to making your engine run. The timing belt controls the camshafts in your engine and keeps the engine running smoothly. The timing belts are present in engines with overhead cams, and are very important to keep those cams turning at the right time in order to keep the engine running. A camshaft is the shaft that opens and closes the intake and exhaust valves in the engine, letting air in and venting the exhaust out. Regardless of what type of engine is in your car, a timing belt failure will cause the engine to stop suddenly and you will not be able to get it started again. Luckily a timing belt failure is somewhat easy to prevent, and although it may not be the cheapest or easiest operation in the world, it is definitely a better option that purchasing another car or a new engine. A good general rule of thumb is that a timing belt should be changed every 60,000 to 75,000 miles, although some belts are designed to last up to 100,000 miles before requiring a change. It is best not to let a belt go more than 80,000 miles, even if the recommended change point is a lot higher. Changing your timing belt early is definitely a lot safer for your engine, and a little money out of pocket now can save you a lot of money before a failure happens. Remember, even though you may get your oil changed every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, and do other scheduled repair services, nothing can save you from a timing belt failure – breakage will happen instantly. Make sure to get your timing belt replaced when required and by a certified technician. It can mean the different between paying a little now or a lot later. Check your vehicle’s manual or call a professional technician to find out when your timing belt for your vehicle should be changed.