Timing chain and gears

What is a timing chain?

04 August 2020, 09:01

The timing chain is located in the car’s engine, and it synchronizes the various parts of the engine so they can work together. It transmits the crankshaft’s movements to the camshaft and is made of metal links like a chain. This allows it to grab on to the different gears and wheels.

The timing chain can be single, double or triple depending on the model of your car. It’s is kept tight by the presence of a hydraulic tensioner.

Timing chain vs timing belt

As stated, the timing chain is used to synchronize the movement of certain parts in the engine. This is similar to the timing belt! The only difference might be that the timing belt can drive the water pump on some car models. Other than this, they are basically both responsible for the process of synchronizing the crankshaft, camshaft, pistons and valves.

Timing belt or chain: Which is better?

✔️ Benefits of a chain

  • The longevity of the timing chain is its main strength. In general, it should not need replacing because of its high strength, and it should last the entire life of the car.
  • A timing chain does not require any maintenance, apart from carrying out a check after reaching 125,000 miles.
  • Unlike the rubber that makes up the timing belt, the metal in the timing chain is resistant to temperature changes.

Disadvantages of a chain

Less smooth rotation than a timing belt: this consumes more energy.

  • A timing chain is heavier than a belt and so increases fuel consumption (thus increasing the pollution generated), which affects your fuel economy in the long run. In addition, its weight has an impact on engine power.
  • A running timing chain is much noisier than a timing belt
  • Due to its weight, it is usually only possible to equip large cylinders.
  • Its purchase price is much higher than that of a timing belt.
  • Since the timing chain is made of metal links, it must be constantly lubricated with engine oil.

What cars have timing chains instead of belts?

More and more cars are fitted with a timing chain. In general, Mercedes and BMWs are equipped with timing chains.

🚗 Below is a non-exhaustive list of cars that can be fitted with a timing chain:

  • Most BMWs
  • Most Mercedes
  • All Cadillacs
  • Alfa Romeo 159
  • Chevrolet Corvette
  • Dacia Duster, Sandero, Sandero Stepway
  • Honda Jazz
  • Mazda with Skyactiv-G engine
  • All SAABs equipped with a turbocharged engine

⛓️ Does my car have a timing belt or chain?
To check whether your car has a timing belt or chain, you can either ask your mechanic, check your owner's manual, or visually check it by removing a cover placed at the end of the engine. Using the right tool to remove the cover, the timing chain is easily recognizable by its metal links, while the belt is made of rubber and is much more flexible.

If you are still unsure, you should ask your mechanic: “How do I know if my car has a timing belt or chain?”

⏰ When is it time to change the timing chain?
Usually, you won't need to change the timing chain in your car. A chain that needs to be replaced is probably damaged as a result of poor lubrication.

If the timing chain is found to be damaged, it is vital that you get a trusted professional to carry out the work. In fact, in some cars, the mechanic will have to disassemble the entire engine in order to access the timing chain. If the timing chain breaks, it could damage other engine parts such as the valves, and the repair will become more extensive and expensive.

🔧 Need to change your car's timing chain?
Do not hesitate to request a quote on autobutler.co.uk. Compare the prices of nearby garages and make an appointment at a quality garage for your repair.

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