Upgrades in Timing Belts.

Alan S

Well-known member
1000+ Posts
Mar 4, 2001
Queensland, Australia
A while back, I did a cambelt on an engine and in the process, sent a pic across to a friend in the parts industry overseas. I was somewhat surprised to be told that the belt I had was a "48,000 mile belt but the new ones are a 72,000" which was explained to me as the materials they're made from these days and that the belt I had on the car (supposedly changed as routine service) had been out of production for at least 8 years.:eek:
We often get new owners enquiring about how and when to change a cambelt and in the process also often hear theories about cambelts "skipping a tooth" or recently an owner who was told by a repairer that some belts whine when changed; neither are practical and the only ones that whine are the ones set too tight. It is usually always suggested by the manuals (which remember are now possibly best part of 20 years old so will contain info referring to older style belts) that the belts need "retensioning" after a short period.

I've just done a cambelt on an 8 valve PSA engine and noticed a bit of interesting info printed on the box the belt came in that I feel is relevant to anyone wanting to do a belt change.

1st Generation:

(NEO) = Neoprene, fibre glass cords and nylon tooth facing.

2nn Generation:

(HTN) = High-Temperature Neoprene, fibre glass cords and nylon tooth facing.

3rd Generation:

(HSN) = Highly Saturated Nitrile. Aramid fibre or fibreglass cords and non stretch nylon facing at higher temperatures with greater horsepower.

A graph showing the heat resistence comparison is also interesting with Gen 1 showing at 105 degrees C which is increased to 130 for the Generation 3 belt.

Having done at least 3 cars in recent months that have been up on mileage for a cambelt change, past the recommended intervals mileage and age wise and then discovered belts that seemed to have never been off the car, (particularly the instance of the long out of production belt) it has to be wondered if some of the service people are using this higher specs belt as a reason to not do a belt change but to "take a punt" that it will go long enough for the current owner to get rid of the car before there's a catastrophe; maybe I'm just a bit cynical based on my own recent findings. It may also explain why the 16V engines were supposedly prone to snapped cambelts and how these days we rarely ever hear of a belt snapping in comparison to back when they were much younger.
I'm not suggesting that a new belt bearing the HSN specs is the be all to end all and that one cambelt change will see the rest of your days of ownership out, but I do believe that if cambelts are genuinely changed at the recommended intervals, using these newer high spec belts, then chances are you may never have to wear a busted engine due to failure; it lowers the risk considerably.
It must also bring into question a belt whirring or whining after change being a a very risky proposition as having now a "non stretching nylon facing" is an advantage in a properly set up cambelt situation but walking through a minefield if overtightened. The upside of course is that being a non stretching type means it should really be a case of once it's set it should be left rather than risk stressing the non stretch facing.

If nothing else, a well fitted belt of Gen 3 specs should give any owner of a car with an interference engine a bit of peace of mind.

Alan S

Scott 505 gti

Fellow Frogger
Feb 15, 2005
Glen Iris

I recently had a new cambelt installed after a leaking water pump (VW caravelle 2.5). Despite a new pump, belt and tensioner, and after two further attempts by the garage to finetune the belt tension, there is a noticible belt whine most prominant at about 2000 RPM. The garage first set according to the old rule of thumb (being able to twist the belt 90 degrees). Then he reset according to two locating lugs that on tensioner that have to be alined. This made the noise worse! By losening further appeared to make belt slippage a real possibly particlarly on de-acceleration.

Not sure what the next steps should be or whether just live with the noise.

I was advised at the time that the new generation belts will only snap but not stretch!


Well-known member
VIP Paid Subscriber
Fellow Frogger
Jan 14, 2006
Hobart, the other planet
Hi Allan,
Were the markings on the cambelt box from a genuine Peugeot supply or a replacement ?
I'm looking at replacing the cambelt on my 306 1.8 8v and would prefer to purchase the best belt available.