The average of cars on the road today is 12.5 years. As a result the cars we own today are racking up hundreds of thousands of miles. With that kind of mileage, parts are sure to wear out. Parts like the timing belt or timing chain.
We all know that a timing belt in a car engine needs to be replaced at recommended service intervals (usually 65,000- 80,000 miles), but what about the timing chain? What is the difference between a timing belt and a chain?
The difference is that a timing belt is a toothed belt made of high-quality rubber; it runs outside of the engine, covered by a protective cove, while a timing chain is made of metal, and looks like an oversized bike chain. A timing chain runs inside the engine, as it needs to be lubricated by the engine oil. A timing belt typically needs to be replaced between 40,000 and 100,000 miles depending on the vehicle. The cost to replace a timing chain ranges from just a couple hundred bucks on up to about $1,500. Exotic and European cars such as the Audi A4 can cost several thousand to replace.
While a timing belt can break, timing chains don’t often break. However they do stretch and that can really affect a mechanic’s ability to time the engine properly. I did have a timing chain break on me once though
In some vehicles and heavy duty trucks, the timing chain doesn’t need to be replaced unless there is a problem with it.
What can cause a timing chain to wear out prematurely?
The timing chain problems are not uncommon, especially in high-mileage vehicles. A timing chain is lubricated by the engine oil. Lack of oil changes, low oil level or poor oil quality can cause the timing chain to wear faster. A timing chain is kept under proper tension by a chain tensioner which either works on by a spring-loaded mechanism or it works based on oil pressure. Chain guides and silencers are used to keep the timing chain from vibrating. All these components wear too.
How do you know if the timing chain is worn?
The biggest tip off to your timing chain troubles are if you notice that your engine feels sluggish, low on power or has troubles firing even though the starter turns the motor over.
A worn timing chain stretches which retards the ignition and valve timing, however it is hard to set the timing because it is erratic. The crank and cam shaft kind of bounce around since the tension shifts under load.. A worn timing chain, guides or chain tensioner can also cause variety of noises originating from the timing chain cover area of the engine. The timing chain noises can range from rattling to whirring, whining or buzzing. If the timing chain is worn, usually it’s replaced as a kit with a new tensioner, guides, and other parts of the chain drive mechanism. Many autos have two or even three chains in their motors and often your auto repair shop may recommend replacing all the chains at once.
To prevent future timing chain problems you should have the engine oil changed at recommended intervals. Using premium quality engine oils and oil filters will also help. Keeping the proper oil level will ensure that the timing chain is always lubricated. In a well-maintained engine a timing chain can last up to 300,000 miles and even longer.
To get your timing chain replaced by trustworthy mechanic in Bel Air MD, call on Ward automotive in Edgewood/Bel Air MD.