Depending on the make and model of car you have, it will contain either a timing belt or a timing chain, or both in some rare examples. This is a crucial part of your car’s operation that should be taken proper care of. If you’re not sure what these components are and what they do for your car, then read on to find out more about them and when they need replacing.
What do they do?
Timing belts and timing chains both serve the same purpose. They control the mechanical timing of your engine by connecting the camshaft and the crankshaft together, ensuring that their rotations are in sync with each other. When these are in sync, the pistons and valves inside your engine also operate in time with each other and keep your engine functioning properly.
What’s the difference?
The short, and altogether unhelpful, answer to this question is that the timing belt is a belt and the timing chain…is a chain. Timing chains, like the metal chains you see on bicycles, used to be the norm before rubber timing belts were introduced in the 1960s. Nowadays, both are used but manufacturers are leaning more towards timing belts in new cars as they are cheaper to make. Modern timing belts are typically made of rubber, fiberglass, and Kevlar to make them stronger.
Each has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Timing chains are much stronger than belts, which means they are less likely to become damaged and don’t need replacing as often. However, they do make more noise when your engine is running compared to belts. On the other hand, timing belts can run more smoothly and quietly, but they wear down more quickly and need replacing often.
When to replace them
Whether you have a timing belt or chain, both can cause disastrous and expensive results if they break, so they need looking after properly. Depending on the make and model of your car, and who you ask, timing belts should be replaced after 60,000-100,000 miles, or after 6 years if you don’t cover this many miles.
Timing chains need replacing much less often and can even last the lifetime of a car. The health of your timing chain does, however, depend on the oil pressure in your car, so make sure to check and change your oil regularly to keep your chain working properly.
If you’re unsure whether you have a timing belt or chain in your car, or if you need a replacement, then visit Bill’s Auto Clinic or contact us online for expert car maintenance in Winston Salem and the surrounding Piedmont Triad.