There are car owners who go to a garage for the first time and order a replacement for their timing belt only to find that their car has a timing chain.

Modern car engines have undergone many engine modifications over time and so have timing belts and chains.

Normally, timing chains last the lifetime of the car, whereas you should change a timing belt every 60,000 to 100,000 miles. Timing chains are more expensive than belts. But which one is best for the car?

Timing chains

Timing Chain

A timing chain looks like the chain on a bicycle. The timing chain has the added advantage of durability. In fact, it should last the lifetime of your car.

Unfortunately, this is not the whole truth. Newer brands, like Volkswagen and BMW, are having big problems with failing timing chains.

You also do not need to replace the pump when you replace your chain. However, timing chains have some serious disadvantages compared to timing belts. For one, the timing chain is more expensive and louder than the belt.

It can also cause serious engine problems if it breaks down. The engine oil pressure controls the timing chain tensioners. The disadvantage of buying a timing chain over a timing belt is that if the oil pressure is too low, the tensioners and chain will also fail. The timing chain connects the camshaft and the crankshaft.

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Timing Belts

Timing Belt 2

Timing belts have been around since the 1960s. They replaced the timing chain due to their smooth, quiet running and lower cost. The service life of the timing belt is estimated at 60,000 to 100,000 miles or 5 to 7 years, depending on the vehicle model.

This is a disadvantage when comparing timing chains against timing belts, because the chain, theoretically, lasts for the whole lifetime of the car. The belt runs through several pulleys, which are equipped with tensioners. The tensioners maintain the correct tension for the correct movement of the belt, and will often need to be changed at the same time as the belt. You also need to replace the water pump with the belt.

The tension on the timing belt is highest when the engine starts or stops, and this is the time when they are most susceptible to breakage. The timing belt helps to coordinate between the camshaft and crankshaft.

It is used for combustion engines. To ensure that the hydraulic circuit is maintained, it is located near the hydraulic control voltages. To improve durability, most timing belts are made of fiberglass-reinforced rubber.

Timing Chain vs Timing Belt – Which is Better?

In my opinion, timing belts are the better choice for newer cars because of the problems with the timing chains. Once you have replaced the timing belt, you can be sure that it will last until the next scheduled replacement.

Each has its own advantages and disadvantages. The production of affordable cars necessitated the development of the timing belt, which is cheaper and quieter than the timing chain. Many manufacturers have switched to making cars with belts; this has led to the increased use of belts.

On the other hand, you have to replace the belt after every 40,000 to 100,000 miles. You must also take into account the cost of the water pump and tensioners.

Timing chains have a longer service life, which is close enough to that of the car itself. They are durable, but their maintenance is closely related to engine oil pressure. A reduction of this pressure can cause serious problems.

Timing belts also have the advantage that they have less friction and do not need to be lubricated. You also experience higher vehicle performance due to the higher steering precision.

If you are not worried about the cost of the constant maintenance of your car, then you should opt for the timing chain.

What are the Symptoms of a Faulty Timing Chain?

As long as you have an internal combustion engine, you will always need a timing belt, timing chain, or timing gear. Most of the large capacity vehicles on the market are equipped with a timing chain, and they are responsible for the smooth operation of the camshaft and crankshaft.

Since the timing chain is metallic in nature, it must be constantly lubricated to ensure smooth running. After continued use, the timing chain can start to wear, which affects the engine’s timing and leads to misfiring. The following factors indicate a faulty timing chain.

Check Engine Light

Flashing Check Engine Light

Modern cars use advanced technology to detect problems with the engine. If the camshaft is not synchronized with the crankshaft, the engine control unit stores an error code and lights up the check engine light.

Engine misfiring

It is time to change your timing chain when it starts to stretch and one of the gears in the crankshaft or camshaft skips. You will find that your engine misfires. If you ignore this problem and the chain breaks, you will have serious engine problems.

Rattling idle engine

When your car is parked, the engine should be silent. If you have a loose timing chain, your engine will make an irritating rattling noise. This is due to vibrations generated by the timing chain on the engine. You must replace it immediately, as a motor cannot function without the timing chain.

Metal shavings in replaced oil

The timing chain needs a lot of lubrication to remain functional. Engine oil is used. During maintenance of the car, you must change the spark plugs, oil filter, and engine oil. This should be done every 5,000 miles.

If your timing chain has started to wear, you will notice some metal chips in the expired engine oil. You may also need to check your keeper retainers and cylinder head valves for wear and tear. Replace your timing chain as soon as you notice metal chips in the old engine oil.

Drivers should always listen for unusual engine noises and replace the timing belt or chain as soon as they notice problems. Failure to replace it may lead to further engine problems.


The decision for the timing belt or chain depends first of all on your vehicle model. Vehicles with a large engine capacity are supplied with the timing chain, but most low-cost cars have the timing belt. The timing belt has the decisive advantage that it is cheap and requires little maintenance.

However, unlike the timing chain, it does not last for the life of the car and must be replaced every 40,000 to 100,000 miles. The timing chain cannot function without oil lubrication, but it will last longer.