Ask an expert


I need to replace my cambelt and am wondering how much this is likely to cost?


Cambelt replacement is never cheap so for all those bill payers who ring around garages to obtain the best price be warned; the lowest price is often not the best option.

The more up-front garages will, in most cases, recommend a new water pump is fitted as part of a cambelt replacement job and will provide an estimate accordingly. This obviously drives the total cost of the job upwards significantly in comparison to the cambelt only price, so it's not hard to understand why motorists often take the cheaper option.

We get to hear about the shortfalls of the cheaper option on a regular basis however as one of two things can and do happen. The first surprise is when the customer receives a phone call from the garage saying they have removed the cambelt, the engine is partially dismantled and they would like to replace the water pump. Comments about ensuring a complete job and not being able to guarantee the life of the cambelt if the water pump is not replaced are often used to convince owners to spend more than the original repair estimate.

What does the owner do? The engine is in pieces and the car is immobile. In reality, they have little choice but to give the go-ahead and bite the bullet on the extra cost.

Often the 'extras' can stretch a repair by several hundred dollars, a hard pill for many motorists to swallow at the time.

The second surprise can be a failure of the original water pump after a new cambelt is fitted often with disastrous consequences. Water pump bearing failure can lead to a broken cambelt which in turn often results in extensive engine damage (valves hitting pistons etc). When challenged about the failure a short time after a cambelt replacement, some garages will simply flatly refuse to accept any responsibility. Their refusal to accept liability is based on the fact the cause of the failure was the water pump which resulted in further damage including the broken cambelt.

Start thinking in thousands of dollars rather than hundreds to sort this problem out!

The reality is this: in most belt driven engines, apart from driving the engine camshaft, the cambelt also turns the water pump. When a new belt is fitted and tensioned, it applies load to the old water pump bearing which many garages have discovered doesn't always work.

While most manufactures have moved away from cambelts in favour of chain driven engines (to help reduce maintenance costs) there are still plenty of vehicles on our roads still running belts which have a limited life span. On average, a cambelt requires replacement every 5 years or 100,000kms whichever comes first. It's a 'must do' job, just be prepared to spend a little more to reduce unwanted future repeat work.

Always remember when shopping around for prices to make sure you ask lots of questions from all parties when estimates vary significantly.

Getting a replacement set of car keys used to be a fairly simple process, however it is becoming a lot more complicated these days.

Modern cars with electronic immobilisers (an anti theft deterrent) have keys which not only control the remote locking and unlocking functions of a car; they’re also fitted with electronic transponders which are unique to each key.

These electronic devices enable a pick-up located close to the vehicle’s ignition switch to read data in the key and ‘unlock’ the vehicle’s immobiliser system, enabling the vehicle to start when you crank the engine over.


Hi, There

Please advise the cost of changing the cambelt for a 2005 Subaru Forester 2.0 (without Turbo). Do I have to replace the water pump as well? How much would that be, please?

Thank you.