What does the timing chain do?

Most cars have either a timing chain or a cambelt / timing belt. The timing chain is a metal chain, located inside the engine. Unlike the cambelt / timing belt, the timing chain doesn’t need to be replaced every 100,000 km. However, timing chain problems can still occur, especially in high-mileage vehicles.

What’s the difference between a timing belt and chain? >

The timing chain keeps engine components running in time, preventing the engine valves hitting the pistons. It does this by connecting the crankshaft to the camshaft, which controls the opening and closing of engine valves.


What causes timing chain damage?

  • General wear and tear: Over time, the metal links in the timing chain can gradually elongate due to the constant stress and tension they endure during engine operation. This is a natural result of the chain’s usage and can occur after a high mileage or many years of service.
  • Low quality or incorrect oils: Using improper or low-quality engine oil can affect the lubrication properties and increase friction within the timing chain assembly. Over time, this can contribute to chain stretching. Similarly, using an oil with the incorrect viscosity can hinder proper lubrication and accelerate wear on the chain.
  • Problems with the timing chain tensioner: The timing chain tensioner and guides are responsible for maintaining proper tension and guiding the chain. If these components become worn or damaged, they may fail to keep the chain properly tensioned, causing excessive movement and stretching.


Common signs of a stretched timing chain:

Below is a list of common symptoms associated with a stretched, damaged or worn timing chain:

  • Engine misfires: A stretched timing chain can cause improper synchronization between the camshaft and crankshaft, leading to engine misfires. You may experience a rough idle, hesitation, or a loss of power during acceleration.
  • Noise from the engine: A rattling or clattering noise coming from the engine, particularly around the front or top of the engine, can be a sign of a stretched timing chain. This noise may be more noticeable during startup or while the engine is under load.
  • Poor engine performance: Due to the incorrect timing caused by a stretched timing chain, the engine may not perform as efficiently as before. You may notice a decrease in overall power, slower acceleration, or reduced fuel efficiency.
  • Difficulty starting the car: If the timing chain is severely stretched, it can affect the engine’s ability to start properly. You may experience extended cranking time before the engine starts or even complete engine failure to start.
  • Check Engine Light (CEL) illumination: A stretched timing chain can trigger the Check Engine Light on the dashboard. The engine control unit (ECU) detects the timing irregularities and stores fault codes related to the timing system.
  • Engine Timing-related issues: A stretched timing chain can cause problems with the engine’s valve timing, resulting in issues like poor idle quality, backfiring, or a noticeable loss of power at specific RPM ranges. Over time, this can cause damage to critical engine components.


How important is a timing chain replacement?

A stretched timing chain is more prone to snapping, which can cause irreversible engine damage. When the timing chain breaks, the engine’s pistons may hit the cylinder head valves, causing serious damage to your engine. This can result in your car needing an engine replacement.

Rather than letting your timing chain die and spending thousands on an engine replacement, we suggest that you get your timing chain replaced as soon as it starts to show warning signs. This will improve the overall longevity of your engine.

Stretched Timing Chain Servicing & Replacement in Hamilton

At Grimmer Motors, we can diagnose if you need to replace your vehicle’s timing chain for you. This will allow for your engine to run healthily, with no risk of the timing chain breaking and damaging the pistons and valves. 

For quick, reliable and honest timing chain replacement, contact Grimmer Motors today!


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