When asking yourself or a mechanic “how long does a timing chain last?”, you need to know the warning signs of a damaged chain, the causes of timing belt concerns, and the overall replacement price for this crucial engine part!
What is a timing chain?
A timing chain, also known as a timing belt or cambelt, is a crucial part of your car's internal combustion engine. The purpose of this part is to synchronize the camshaft rotation with the crankshaft, allowing the engine’s valves to operate at the correct intervals between the intake and exhaust strokes.
Purpose of the Timing Chain
Furthermore, the timing belt plays a pivotal role in preventing the piston from striking the valves while diving. This mechanism is usually toothed, meaning it is a drive belt with teeth on the inside surface to grip on the other parts. If you notice any issues with the drive belt or teeth, you will have to ask your mechanic “how long does a timing chain last?”
In an internal combustion engine, the timing chain connects the crankshaft to the damshaft. This connection controls the opening and decoding of the engine valves. The four-stroke engine in many modern cars today requires that the valves open and close during every other revolution of the crankshaft.
Types of Timing Chains
The different types of timing chains involve gear or chain systems, along with rubber composite belts.
There are different kinds of gear and chain systems that are used in cars today to connect the crankshaft to the camshaft for correct timing. Even when the crankshaft and camshaft are positioned close together, most engine designs use a short chain. The short chain prevents excess torque and kickback against the drivecrank, reducing potential wear and tear and excess stress.
Although most chains and gears are durable, rubber belts are quieter while operating. This means that car owners who own a rubber belt may have to ask their mechanic “how long does a timing chain last?” when referring to their rubber option.
Along with being covered in either rubber or metal chains, timing belts are also usually covered by a metal timing belt cover for added longevity. These rubber covers will have to be replaced at specific ninteranvals and replaced with other internal medahisms, like the water pump.
Timing Chain Failure
Timing chains must be replaced by the car owner at specific intervals recommended by the car manual or by the mechanic who frequently works on the car.
The maintenance interval is usually based on a certain time period or recommended distance. Failure to replace the timing chain can result in wear and tear, misuse, breakdown, or catastrophic engine failure. Because of the severe repercussions, car owners need to ask their mechanic “how long does a timing chain last?”
The owner’s manual maintenance interval schedule for replacing the timing chains in their car is usually between 30,000 and 50,000 miles.
In addition, many car owners will replace the timing chain tensioner at the same time the belt is replaced, reducing the overall labor cost for this procedure. Sometimes the coolant pump is also replaced to save on the overall replacement prices.
The failure of the timing belts can usually be attributed to a few main causes
- Breakage of the high tensile fibers of the timing chain is uncommon, while stripped teeth or delamination are common causes of the timing chain failure. Car owners need to ask “how long does a timing chain last?” when noticing these symptoms in their car.
- In addition, debris and dirt mixed with oil and grease can slowly breakdown the materials of the timing chain over time, causing premature timing belt failure and performance concerns.
- Furthermore, correct belt tension is critical to prevent excess strain on engine bearings and cogs, while also preventing a whip of the timing chain during use.
Make sure that when asking your mechanic “how long does a timing chain last?” that you ensure the professional synchronizes the movement of the valves and the pistons. Failure to synchronize these parts correctly can lead to issues with valve timing, leading to collisions between valves and pistons.
Symptoms of a Damaged Timing Chain
The p0335 code indicates that there might be a possible issue with your vehicle’s crankshaft and timing chain. Your vehicle’s crankshaft is the hardened-steel shaft that spans the entire length of the engine and converts the linear force of the moving pistons into a rotational force. The pistons are directly connected to the crankshaft via the connecting rods.
- A damaged timing chain can turn on the p0335 code. As soon as you notice the code in your car, you need to ask yourself “how long does a timing chain last?”
Damaged Gear Teeth
Since there are teeth on the timing chain that grab a hold of the gears as they are rotating the engine parts, if these teeth begin to become brittle or not work, the timing chain will begin to slip away from the gears.
- The slipping of the timing chain will cause the teeth to jolt the engine and begin to stall, since the camshaft timing is incorrect. When you notice the engine stalling, it is time to ask yourself “how long does a timing chain last?”
Another sign of a damaged timing chain is the misfiring of the engine. The fire rate of the engine could be put in jeopardy from the timing belt and the teeth wearing out over time.
- If the timing chain slips away from the gears, the cylinders could open and close too soon, causing the engine misfire to occur. If this happens, you need to look into an engine replacement right away while you ask yourself or your mechanic “how long does a timing chain last?”
- If your engine is misfiring, you may also have fouled spark plugs. In this case, it costs between $100 and $300 to replace the spark plugs in your car.
Smoke From Your Engine
The third sign of a faulty timing belt is smoke coming from your engine. The top of every cylinder has two holes that are in charge of letting out the exhaust from the engine and letting in the outside air. The opening and closing of these holes are timed with the cylinder movement and the camshaft rotation.
- If your timing belt has worn out, the timing of the camshaft rotation and cylinder can be off, meaning the exhaust will let out air and in at the wrong times. This is a clear sign it is time to ask your mechanic “how long does a timing chain last?”
- Replacing the cracked cylinder of your engine that lets out smoke can cost at least $500, with the labor between $200 and $300 for between 5 and 6 hours of work.
Low Oil Pressure
Additionally, the oil pressure can decline in your vehicle if the timing chain has become damaged.
- If the timing of the chain is wrong, it can skip and break pieces on the camshaft, which can fall into the vehicle’s oil pan and cause the oil pressure to drop in the bottom of the engine.
- The average cost for an oil pressure sensor replacement is between $127 adn $146 to help fix the camshaft and crankshaft concerns.
Broken Pistons or Valves
When asking yourself “how long does a timing chain last?”, you may notice the pistons or valves are broken.
- Once this happens, the piston will hit the valves while they are open, resulting in the valves bending or breaking the piston.
- Replacing the engine pistons is between $40 and $200 just for the parts. When asking your mechanic “how long does a timing chain last?”, you will often have to look at the functioning of the pistons and valves of your engine.
- Replacing engine valves is between $900 and $1800 depending on the make, model, and year of your car.
Metal Shavings in Oil
There can be metal shavings in the oil that can harm the timing chain. If the timing chain begins to break down over time, small metal pieces might break off of the chain and drop into the metal oil pan.
- When you have your oil changed, if the mechanic tells you that there are small pieces of metal in the oil, this is a clear sign you need to find out “how long does a timing chain last?”
Engine Cannot Start
In addition, if the engine cannot start or begins to fail very early on, a broken timing chain can be the culprit of this issue. If the timing belt is broken, the engine will not have compression, and the timing chain can be next.
- If your engine won’t start or is driving rough, you should bring your vehicle to a mechanic so they can give you an answer to your question of “how long does a timing chain last?”
- Replacing engine oil is between $20 and $100 at a lube shop, with high-end synthetic oil costing more for car owners.
Check Engine Light
Furthermore, if your check engine light is on, this is a clear symptom of a faulty timing chain. The check engine light can come on for various reasons, but if it is the timing chain, you will need to figure out the issue.
- If a stretched timing chain has caused poor engine performance and a higher rate of emissions, it can cause the check engine light to illuminate on your dashboard.
Rattling While Idling
The last sign of a damaged timing chain in your vehicle is the engine rattling while idling. Unusual sounds coming from under your hood are clear signs that something is wrong with your engine and motor.
- When the timing chain is loose, this can cause a vibration in the motor that will lead to a rattling noise as the engine idles. Fixing the timing chain and the rattling can help you answer the question of “how long does a timing chain last?”
Timing Chain Replacement Cost
When asking yourself ,“how long does a timing chain last?, you may not be ready to know that the replacement periods are more frequent than you think. If you don’t think you can afford a timing chain replacement, you could look into doing this to fix yourself – however, due to the complicated nature of engines and the various moving parts, we recommend bringing your vehicle to a professional in your area for this replacement.
The average price for a timing chain replacement for most car makes and models is between $370 and $1500 depending on the severity of the issues and other internal concerns. If you plan to replace the timing chain on your own, you will need to find the correct procedure and steps to doing this fix by yourself. You can usually find these step-by-step instructions by looking at the service manual in your vehicle.
- In old-style engines that use a pushrod mechanism, the timing chain replacement procedure is fairly simple when compared to other fixes. If you ask yourself “how long does a timing chain last?” and you find that it is time for this procedure to occur, you can try doing it on your own if you have an old vehicle.
- However, if you have a modern front-wheel drive car with a transverse engine, we recommend bringing your car to a mechanic.
- To avoid timing chain problems and asking “how long does a timing chain last?”, you should keep up to date with your engine maintenance and have the oil changed at the recommended intervals.
- Using the right kind of oil and high-quality oil filters can help keep your timing chain working well for a long period of time.
The Bottom Line
Many drivers will ask their local mechanic or auto body shop “how long does a timing chain last?” When answering this question, there are many factors that affect the answer, like the symptoms of the damaged chain, the causes of the timing belt issues, and the type of vehicle you are driving!