Can I still drive with a bad tensioner?

I have been hearing a minor "dragging" sound when pulling up with my car for a month or two. The garagist discovered that I need a new tensioner for the timing belt. His explanation was a bit odd, he said I could still drive for months, but also said it could break tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. He told me I can get it fixed on Monday and that I can drive if I do so carefully. I really need my car on Saturday. Can I do this? What are the chances that my car will break? Anyway I will drive carefully. Can't believe I drove like this for months already, but the sound is so subtle. May as well use it for another day.

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  • 6 months ago
    Favorite Answer

    The tensioner is spring loaded metal wheel running on a bearing. It pushes against the timing belt to keep it taught which then keeps the timing belt running in it's teeth. When the tensioner starts making noises, this is an indication that the bearing is starting to go out. It could fail tomorrow or it could run for a few more months like that. The risk of not replacing it as soon as possible is that if the tensioner goes out, then the belt will slip it's teeth and the timing will go out of sync and cause catastrophic failure inside the engine. A tensioner is quite easy to replace and should, in my opinion, be replaced when there is the first sign of deterioration. Changing it sooner than later can save hundreds of dollars!

    If the bearing starts to drag then the wheel isn't turning smoothly which will cause the belt to overheat and eventually break!

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  • Dan
    Lv 5
    6 months ago

    No, you should not drive with a bad tensioner.

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  • 6 months ago

    That's the first time I've heard a mechanic called a 'garagist'.

    I would get a second opinion (and quote) from another mechanic - and if it is indeed the timing belt tensioner, I would get the tensioner, belt, (and probably the water pump too - if it is driven by the timing belt on your car) replaced ASAP.

    If your vehicle is like most modern vehicles, it has an 'interference' engine - meaning the timing belt is the only thing keeping your valves from hitting your pistons - and if it jumps time, bye bye engine.

    • M.
      Lv 7
      6 months agoReport

      It sounds British.
      It makes sense.

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  • 6 months ago

    He cannot see the timing belt tensioner or test it without removing the belt cover. He can check the serpentine belt tensioner easily though and replace it a lot cheaper than going into the timing belt area. Make sure which tensioner he was talking about because the difference is a few hundred dollars in parts and labor. Go to a different mechanic and have that checked again. Mistakes can be expensive and not fix the problem. There are other problems that could make that noise. I wouldn't be surprised if it was a separated harmonic balancer.

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  • Scott
    Lv 6
    6 months ago

    "Garagist"? Okay...

  • Ron
    Lv 7
    6 months ago

    There's a miscommunication here.

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  • 6 months ago

    Rent a car for Saturday. It may last then again it may not. The cost of a rental will be a fraction of what it will cost if the belt lets go.

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  • 6 months ago

    When a timing belt tensioner goes bad you'll hear a knocking.slapping sound. I'd shut the motor off immediately and have it towed to a mechanic with a brain! The timing belt will jump time and bend your valves!

    Source(s): Mitsubishi Master Tech
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  • 6 months ago

    If it has just started making the noise it will probably go for years. But it will need fixing

    • Angelina J.6 months agoReport

      Been hearing a minor sound since July. But since I went to that mechanic it suddenly became much worse. It is as if they did something to the car... I am highly sceptic... maybe paranoid. I am going to an official dealer next week.

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  • 6 months ago

    If you need a new tensioner then I wouldn't be driving the car at all. It's more likely that the belt will end up jumping by a tooth because it's not at the correct tension but again it's really quite possible that it could snap when the tension is suddenly taken up by the engine moving. A snapped timing belt "generally" equals an engine write off.

    • M.
      Lv 7
      6 months agoReport

      It's not going to jump a tooth and keep running. It's not going to snap. It's going to suddenly be not turning the camshaft, and that may be an instant metal bending catastrophe.

      No thumb...

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