Alfa Romeo MiTo – Timing Belt Service Interval – 2008 to 2020

If you own an Alfa Romeo MiTo, one of the most important things you need to keep up with is regular replacements of the timing belt (cambelt). Old tired timing belts and tensioners can fail, leaving you stranded by the side of the road with an expensive repair on the horizon. In this guide we will tell you when to replace the timing belt on a 2008 to 2020 Alfa Romeo MiTo, along with some other timing belt related information as well.

Does the 2008 to 2020 Alfa MiTo have a Timing Belt or Chain?

As you can see from the table below, the 1.4 MPI and TB petrol engines, along with the 1.6 JTD diesel motor are all driven by a belt. The TwinAir units and the 1.3 JTD use a timing chain, so there is no official service interval (although timing belts can sometimes fail and we will discuss that a bit more later in this article).

EngineYear RangeTiming Belt or Chain
0.9 TwinAir 852011-2012Chain
0.9 Twinair 1052011Chain
1.4 MPI2008-2009Belt
1.4 MPI Multiair2009-2018Belt
1.4 TB2008-2009Belt
1.4 TB Multiair2009-2018Belt
1.3 JTD2008-2018Chain
1.6 JTD2008-2018Belt

When Does the Timing Belt Need to Be Replaced on an Alfa Romeo MiTo?

Credit: Alfa Romeo

The original official service interval for the 1.4 petrol engines was every 116,000 km (72,000 miles) or every 5 years. However, as Alfa Romeo has a habit of overestimating the lifespan of the belts in their cars, most experts and owners agree that a replacement every 78,000 km (48,000 miles) or every 4 years is the best course of action.

For those with the 1.6 JTD, the original service interval was even greater at every 135,000 km (84,000 miles) or every 5 years, but once again most experts and owners recommend a service interval of every 78,000 km (48,000 miles) or every 4 years.

EngineYear RangeRecommended Change Interval (KM)Recommended Change Interval (Miles)Change Interval (Time)
1.4 MPI2008-200978,000km48,000mi4 years
1.4 MPI Multiair2009-201878,000km48,000mi4 years
1.4 TB2008-200978,000km48,000mi4 years
1.4 TB Multiair2009-201878,000km48,000mi4 years
1.6 JTD2008-201878,000km48,000mi4 years

What Happens if the Timing Belt Breaks on an Alfa MiTo?

All engines in the MiTo range so this means that if the belt or tensioner fails it will usually lead to some sort of damage occurring. The extent of this damage can depend on the engine, but generally it is a situation you want to avoid as an engine rebuild can be very expensive.

To get a bit of an idea of health of both the belt and the tensioner, you can try to listen for any abnormal rubbing, squeaking, tapping, or ticking sounds originating from the timing belt area. The presence of such noises may signal that the belt and tensioner have surpassed their intended lifespan on your Alfa Romeo MiTo. However, if you want to get a good idea of the condition of the belt and tensioner they will need to be physically inspected (and then it’s probably better to just get them replaced).

What Else Should be Replaced with the Timing Belt?

You should replace the following components during a timing belt service on a 2008 to 2020 MiTo:

  • Tensioner
  • Idlers
  • Aux belt
  • Water pump 

What About the Timing Chain on TwinAir and 1.3 JTD MiTos?

Credit: Alfa Romeo

While you don’t have to worry about changing the chain at a specified interval on these MiTo models, failure can still occur, so it is important to be mindful of the following issues that can cause premature chain failure/stretch:

  • Incorrect tension/problems with the tensioner – incorrect tension (both too tight and too loose) will lead to increased strain on the chain, which can lead to premature failure.
  • Engine seizure – if the engine seizes it can lead to chain stretch or possibly even total failure. Most of the time engine seizures are oil-related (lack of oil, wrong oil, etc.).
  • Insufficient lubrication – the chain is lubricated by the engine oil, so if there is not enough of it or the oil is not changed regularly, it can lead to chain stretch/premature failure.
  • Age – Despite claims that timing chains never need to be replaced, they can eventually succumb to wear and tear over the years even if the car is serviced well.

When Do Timing Chain Issues Usually Start to Occur?

There is no hard and fast rule for this, but once a chain driven car starts getting well past 160,000 km (100,000 miles) we would expect timing chain related issues to become a bit more frequent. If the MiTo has not been serviced properly we would expect timing chain issues to occur earlier.

What are the Symptoms of Timing Chain Failure/Stretch on an Alfa Romeo MiTo?

Luckily, unlike a timing belt, chains usually give a bit more warning that there is an issue before they fail, so watch out for the following symptoms:

  • Rattling noise from around the timing area, especially at idle
  • Misfires and general rough running
  • Metal shavings in the engine oil
  • Check Engine Light (CEL) warning

If you suspect that your Alfa Romeo MiTo’s timing chain is failing, get it checked out and replaced as soon as possible. A failed chain can lead to much more serious damage that can be extremely expensive to repair.

To Sum Up

All models equipped with a timing belt should have it replaced every 78,000 km (48,000 miles) or every 4 years, despite Alfa Romeo’s original, longer service interval. These engines are interference, so a belt or tensioner failure will probably lead to catastrophic engine damage and an expensive repair bill. Lastly, the belt should be replaced along with the tensioner, idlers, Aux belt, and water pump.

Author

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  • Ben

    From his early days playing the original Gran Turismo and with his Hot Wheels car set, Ben has had a long interest in all things automotive. His first foray into the world of automotive journalism was way back in 2009 and since then he has only grown more interested in the industry. Ben also runs and heads up the video production side of Garage Dreams, focusing on small informative documentaries about some of the world's most legendary cars.

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