Your car is either going to have a timing chain or a timing belt, but they are in charge of the same thing: synchronizing the rotation of the crankshaft and the camshaft. The camshaft controls the valves in the cylinder head, making them open and close at the right time while the crankshaft moves the wheels. So what does a timing chain do? It connects and thus coordinates both of these movements and makes sure that the engine works correctly.
How do I know if my car has a timing belt or chain? Your car manual will tell you if you are unsure, and while the timing chain and belt do the same job they look quite different. As the name implies, the timing chain is a metal roller chain, similar to a bicycle chain, located within the engine. A timing belt is made from rubber and sits outside the engine. Timing chains were used first and were eventually replaced more commonly by belts, but they have recently made a comeback.
A timing chain needs lubricating by the motor oil to function properly but usually has a very high life expectancy. Timing belts have to be exchanged more regularly.
There are a few signs and symptoms that will tell you if your timing chain is worn out. When you notice any of these you should have your car checked at a garage, as it might be time to replace your timing chain.
If your engine is misfiring, chances are the timing chain is at fault. A worn-out chain can skip a gear on the crankshaft or camshaft, which throws off the engine’s timing and causes it to misfire.
Motor oil issues
As discussed, the oil in your engine is essential to keep the timing chain going. When the oil level gets too low, the tension on the chain can decrease. In addition, small metal pieces in the oil can be an indication of a faulty chain. Therefore it is vital to do regular oil checks and changes!
Timing chain noise
While timing chains used to be quite noisy compared to timing belts, they have improved a lot over time. These days a rattling noise, when the engine idles, is a very good indication that the timing chain has gone loose.
Check engine light
In modern cars, you might get an engine error code and the check engine light will come on if there is a problem with the timing chain. Your mechanic can diagnose these error codes and figure out which part of your engine is at fault.
If you notice any of these signs you should have a qualified mechanic check your car immediately. A worn timing chain can lead to engine failure and such a repair is a lost costlier than replacing your timing chain.
While durable, a timing chain can also wear out over time, as can its components like the timing chain tensioner. Experts recommend replacing it once your car reaches between 80,000 and 120,000 miles depending on the make and model.
However, if you are driving an older car or one with high mileage you should regularly check for signs that the timing chain is wearing out.
In general, you can expand your timing chain’s life by monitoring the oil you put into your car. Since the chain’s lubrication depends on motor oil, you need to make sure the oil is changed at regular intervals. It is also important to use high-quality oil with good viscosity so it reaches even the small nooks and crannies of your chain.
The timing chain replacement cost in the UK will depend on your car make and model. Usually, you can buy a timing chain replacement kit that also includes the tensioner, etc.
If you have an older car then you can even do the replacement yourself because it is a pretty straightforward task if you are handy. However, most modern cars with front-wheel drive have an engine that is not easily accessible. This makes it hard to get to the timing chain and so we recommend having your local garage do the replacement for you.
If you request quotes on autobutler.co.uk you can save a lot of money on the cost of a timing chain replacement at a garage near you.
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