The internal combustion engine has many vital components that keep it functioning and performing well for the vehicle. One such component is the timing chain, which is responsible for allowing the crankshaft and camshaft to rotate at the same time and at the same speed. As a result, the various engine valves can open and close when they’re supposed to. In other words, the valves will let just the right amount of fuel and air into the engine to produce the right amount of power for the vehicle.
Newer vehicles use timing belts instead of timing chains. They perform the same function, but each one has its own pros and cons. Either way, if the timing belt or timing chain were to break, it will cause all sorts of issues for the engine and the internal combustion process. The biggest issue would be the inability to drive your vehicle. Then you’d have no choice but to replace the belt or chain with a new one.
The First Signs of Problems
There are two possible types of timing configuration that your internal combustion engine may have. You either have an engine with a timing configuration that is non-interference or interference. One of these is seen in every internal combustion engine. In an interference engine, the valve and piston stroke exist within the same location of the main cylinder. The valve and piston are supposed to stay separated from each other, thanks to the timing chain. But these two components will collide if the timing belt breaks. This causes there to be damage to the camshaft, cylinder, piston, valve, and cylinder head.
These engine components are quite expensive to replace. And if you try to have them repaired, it is even more expensive because the mechanic’s hourly rate will be through the roof. The cheapest solution in this situation would be to trade in your vehicle for another vehicle or purchase an entirely new engine. Hopefully, you can avoid the problem from getting this complicated by changing the timing belt or chain as soon as you notice it wearing down or breaking as you’re driving.
On the other hand, if you’re driving a vehicle with a non-interference engine, then it won’t be a huge deal if you have a timing chain that breaks. The only thing that will happen is your engine will stop running. You shouldn’t see any damage to your engine components, such as its valves and pistons. Of course, it’ll still leave you stranded if it happens while you’re driving. You certainly don’t want that to happen.
Timing chains usually last longer than timing belts. However, timing chains require a lot more maintenance than timing belts too. For instance, you need to oil your timing chains regularly to keep them moving smoothly. This is not something you need to worry about with timing belts. With that being said, timing belts tend to break faster than timing chains. The only thing you can do about this is replacing the belt when it looks worn out.
It is recommended that you have your timing belt or timing chain inspected at least once per year. When you have a mechanic or auto technician perform an oil change or tune-up, you should have them inspect your belt or chain to see its condition. They’ll be able to tell if it is about to break or not.
Generally, a timing belt will last for at least 60,000 miles, while a timing chain will last for 100,000 miles. There are other variables which contribute to these estimates, such as the regular driving conditions that you’ve put the vehicle through and how often you’ve performed maintenance on it.