Timing Chain: When to Replace it, Symptoms, and Price

In the automotive world, the timing chain is one of the most important vehicle parts in ensuring the regular operation of your engine.

Although this component is stronger than a timing belt, it requires proper maintenance, including lubrication and replacement of damaged components. Otherwise, vehicle owners risk damaging their engines.

Keep reading this article to find out which symptoms indicate timing chain wear, when it should be replaced, and the price of doing so.


What is the Difference Between Timing Chain and Timing Belt?

Although both synchronise the crankshaft with the camshaft, timing chains and belts differ in composition.

While timing chains are made of metal, timing belts are made of fiber-reinforced rubber. Because of this, timing chains are more robust than belts.


What is a Timing Chain?

Timing chains are car parts that synchronise the movement of the pistons and valves when the engine is operating. They are central to the engine functioning correctly.

As such, the explosion inside each cylinder is linked to the coordinated energy output to the wheels.


How Do You Tell if You’re Facing Timing Chain Wear?

When damaged or worn, the part displays certain symptoms, such as:

  • Uneven idling;
  • Loss of engine power;
  • Noise in the chain coming from the engine.

Unlike timing belts, timing chains have a longer service life. As such, they need replacing less frequently.



When Should the Timing Chain Be Changed?

Generally speaking, manufacturers recommend replacing a timing chain at 150,000 – 200,000 thousand kilometres. However, the need to replace the chain will vary depending on the vehicle and engine type.


What are the Risks of not Replacing a Worn Timing Chain?

If you feel your chain is worn or damaged, it is best to replace it. Not doing so means compromising normal engine operation.

As the part synchronises the pistons and valves, if the chain breaks, the pistons collide with the valves, causing severe engine damage.

As such, replacing the part as soon as possible is important, or you will likely face very high repair expenses.


Why Should you Service your Timing Chain?

As mentioned previously, not replacing a worn chain can cause severe engine damage. As such, the ideal course of action is to carry out regular preventive maintenance, which includes:

  • Lubricating the chain;
  • Checking the tensioners, including their housing;
  • Checking the condition of the fastener screws;
  • Replacing all worn components within the distribution system (e.g. tensioners, tensioner guides or water pump).



What is a Timing Chain Tensioner?

This part’s purpose is to maintain the tension of the timing chain under all conditions, per the specifications.

In addition, it compensates for any wear on the part and maintains the tension of the timing chain.


How do you Lubricate a Timing Chain?

You can lubricate this part by injecting oil or using the oil vapour in the distribution box.

To reduce friction, the lubricant must be placed on the chain, sprockets, guides, and even the tensioning rails.

This process is done inside the power distribution box and should be carried out by your trusted mechanic.


Examples of Car Brands with Timing Chains

Several brands and models on the market contain engines with timing chains.

Some popular brands include Toyota, Honda, BMW, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz.

Some of the reasons these brands opt for a chain instead of a belt are the reliability and performance ensured by the part.


How Much Does a Timing Chain Cost?

It all depends on the make and model of your car, as well as the specifications of the chain. However, the average cost exceeds hundreds of euros.


How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Timing Chain?

The cost of replacing this part, including spare parts and labour, ranges from tens to thousands of euros for a mid-range vehicle.


Where Can You Replace a Timing Belt?

As with any car repair, you’ll want to go to your trusted mechanic or a specialised repair shop.

This ensures that all manufacturer specifications are met, and everything is done accordingly, preventing irreversible damage to the engine or other vehicle components.

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