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The Symptoms of a Failing Timing Chain: What There Is To Know! 

The Symptoms of a Failing Timing Chain

If you turn the key in your engine and hear a loud ticking sound, don’t panic, it is not necessarily a bomb. A faulty timing chain (also known as a belt) can cause your car to make this noise. A car with a failing timing chain will rarely be quiet. It may rattle and shake as you are driving down the road. The timing chain is a very important part of your car’s engine and a noisy belt should never be ignored. 

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What does a Timing Chain Do?

A timing chain ensures that the rotation of the crankshaft coincides with the camshaft. This guarantees proper timing and lets the engine’s valves open and close each time the cylinder fires. You will find this chain inside the engine in front of the motor. 


The chain It is made of a series of links that hook into the toothed sprockets of the crankshaft and the camshaft. It is connected to a set of gears that operate the mechanical components in the car. The chain moves around the gears. The timing chain must operate correctly for the engine to fire. 

In order to function properly, the chain must receive lubrication from oils in the engine. This is one of many reasons to change your oil regularly. The timing chain runs every time you drive. 

What is the difference between a timing belt and a timing chain

Timing belts and timing change have the same function, but they are located in different parts of the car. Timing chains are located inside the engine and get their lubrication from the engine’s oil. while timing belts are found outside of the engine. The timing belt travels through a set of pulleys. Those pulleys have tensioning mechanisms in place. 


Timing chains were around first, they were replaced by timing belts for a while. Timing chains last longer than timing belts and most high-end automobiles have switched back to chains.

How to Tell if Your Timing Chain is Bad 


You will not be able to drive your car without a timing chain. There are a few things that will signal a faulty timing chain. 


The Engine Rattles as You Warm Up the Car 

Strange noises coming from your engine are almost always a sign of trouble. If you hear something rattling, it almost always means that something has come loose inside the engine. However, when a timing belt is about to come off. you will hear and feel a rattling. 


The Check Engine Light comes on

Whenever there is a problem with your engine, the check engine light should illuminate. It will display a number that corresponds to the problem that is present. A mechanic will be able to tell you what that code means. A non-working timing belt can trigger the light or it may cause other problems that will trigger the light. 


The Engine Misfires 

A misfire occurs when cylinders in an engine do not fire properly. This happens because there is a pause of the air-to-fuel balance inside the combustion chamber of those cylinders. A misfire may cause a loss of power. You may also notice that you do not get as many miles to the gallon.

You will hear a loud bang when an engine has a misfire and the car may jerk back and forth. 


Sometimes a timing chain will get stretched out over the years and miles. The engine will end up missing gears on the camshaft or the crankshaft. This throws off the timing of the engine and that is what causes the backfire. When a chain gets stretched out, it is at the end of its life. You should be happy if your engine backfires because that will alert you to the problem. If the chain brakes while you are driving, the loose pieces of metal can get into your engine.


Engine Failure 

Sometimes a timing belt will just break. When a belt breaks loose, it can hit the other components of a car’s engine and damage them. The pistons and the valves may come in contact with one another and that can damage the pistons. Your car will stop running and it will have to be towed to a mechanic. If it happens when your car is parked, you simply will not be able to start the car.


Metal in an Oil Changing Pan

When you change your oil, you should look at the old oil in the pan and see if you see any small bits of metal. When a timing belt gets old, it slowly begins to disintegrate. This can produce small flecks of metal that you will find in your oil. 


Causes of a Bad Timing Chain

Age is one of the main things that can cause a timing belt to go bad. Your vehicle’s timing belt should be replaced every 80,000 to 120,000 miles.  Your owner’s manual should tell you what is recommended for the make and model of your car.

You Are Not Changing the Oil Enough

Old oil will not be able to lubricate the chain properly. This may make the rollers and links of the engine rub against one another. The movement of the chain rotating around the gears of the camshafts and crankshaft can cause elongation.


The type of oil you use may also be a factor in the life of your timing chain. There are some cars that require synthetic oil. These cars require that the oil flows quickly. The oil must also have the proper pressure in order to work properly. Using an incorrect kind of oil can cause extra weight on the chain and the engine won’t be lubricated properly. 


Each vehicle owner’s manual details certain oil requirements such as an API service rating, and a recommended viscosity. Improper oil viscosity can impact a timing chain’s operation. Using the right kind of oil is generally important to the health of your engine.


Checking Your Timing Chain

Before you go to a mechanic, you can perform a quick check of the timing chain yourself. You will need a basic automotive tool kit to do this.

Step 1

Unbolt the distributor cap from the engine and look at the current rotor position.

Step 2

Put an appropriate sized socket on your breaker bar and place it on the crankshaft’s damper pulley.

Step 3

Rotate the crankshaft pulley in a clockwise motion. Observe the rotor. Stop turning when the rotor starts moving.

Step 4

Mark the damper pulley location on the crankshaft damper.

Step 5

Turn the crankshaft the opposite way. When the rotor begins to move, stop.

Step 6

Mark the second crankshaft location.

Step 7

Put measuring tape around the crankshaft damper at the location of your marks and measure the distance between the two marks.

Divide the distance of these marks by the circumference of the car's damper. Multiply the result by 360, The result will give you the number of degrees between the two marks. It should be 3 to five degrees. If it is over 10 degrees, the chain is too loose and needs to be replaced.

Getting a new Timing Chain

Unless you have the skills of a professional mechanic, you are probably not going to be able to replace the timing chain yourself. It is intrinsic work that requires a skilled hand.


The chain itself only costs between $88 and $245. Labor is not cheap. It can cost between $413 and $1040. Sometimes, you will have to replace some of the components that were affected by the bad belt and that can be even more expensive. 


If you need to get your timing chain replaced, you can go to an auto body shop or a mechanic. There are advantages and disadvantages to each one.


Taking Your Vehicle to the Dealership

If you have a rare car, you may want to consider going to a dealership for repairs. Parts and labor are almost always more expensive at the dealership. However, they will always have a part in stock. The mechanic will be trained and certified in the make and model’s engine. The dealership will not charge you by the hour, but rather by the job. The mechanic will have no incentive to take a long time on your car.


Taking the Car to an Auto body Shop

When you take your car to an auto body shop, you will be able to talk to the mechanics who will work on your car. You can ask any questions that you might have. It is a good idea to find out if they are certified in your make of car.  Be sure they guarantee their work and get a cost estimate.


AAA offers a list of recommended shops. They should have a shop listed in your area. You may want to check their grade with the Better Business Bureau and read any online reviews that they have.


Timing chains are expensive to replace, and if your car is very old, it might not be worth it to get a new one. You will have a few options for selling the old car if you decide to get a new one.


Donate Your Car

There are several charitable organizations that accept junk cars as donations such as Kars4Kids which benefits the make a wish foundation. They will provide you with documentation so that you can write your car off on your taxes. 


Although it’s good to give to charity, it may take them a rather long time to pick your car up and a tax write-off will not give you cash in your hand.


Trade-in Your Car

If you are in the market for a new car, the dealership you go to will offer you a trade-in allowance. They are unlikely to offer you what your car is worth and they may charge you for towing. They will rely on your being too lazy to do your research and get other offers for the car.


A car salesperson may offer you what seems like a fair amount for your old car. Make sure to read the itemized bill for your new vehicle twice. There is more than a good chance that they will tack the trade-in allowance back onto the cost of the new car.


The best thing to do is to tell the salesperson that you have no car to trade-in. Then get a final price for the new automobile. Once you have a final price in writing you can tell them you have decided to trade in the old car.

Sell Your Car Online 

If you type “Sell my Junk car” into a Google search, a plethora of car sales websites will come up. Most of these sites will charge you a fee to list the car you have for sale. You will get to list the car’s specs along with one or two pictures of the car.


If you choose this method of car sales, you will be competing with many other people. It may take months to get an interested buyer.


When you finally do get an interested buyer, you will have to show them the car. If that person is an amateur mechanic, they may only be interested in certain parts of the car and they are unlikely to have a tow truck or be willing to pay for one. You may well be left with a parted out junk car on your property and little money for the parts. There may also be looky-loos who are not really interested in buying the vehicle.


Selling your car online may also be dangerous. Sexual predators and even murders have found their victims on online bulletin boards.


Sell Your Car to Us

If you want to sell your car fast, Cash Cars Buyer can give you a very good deal. Just fill out our online form. We ask for your name, email address, and phone number. We will need the make, model, and VIN number of the vehicle. 


We will make you an offer and arrange to pick up The car. We will then arrive right on time, inspect your vehicle, pay you in cash, and tow it away for free.

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