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Hi, I am considering a 308 purchase and have been advised about the importance of changing the cam timing belts early and often. What I am curious about is the margin of safety in timing belt change intervals with respect to elapsed time (years).

I see a lot of cars that had the belts changed 5000 miles ago, but that was also 5 years ago - and I assume the belts degrade over time as well as over miles. How long can cam timing belts be "aged" but still be safe?

Also, has anyone ever had a timing belt actually break in normal use? What was the age and mileage of the failed belt? And did your engine recover?
 
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