Symptoms Of A Bad Timing Chain (& Replacement Cost In 2023)

Any internal combustion engine uses many useful parts. Such as pistons, rings, crankshafts, camshafts, valves, and timing belts or chains. All these internal parts of the engine perform their function, which starts the engine and provides power.

Similarly, the timing chain or belt plays an important role in the functioning of any internal combustion engine.

In this post, we will learn in detail about the timing chain of the engine. Like, what is a timing chain, how does it work, symptoms of a damaged or loose timing chain, when should it be replaced, and how much does the replacement cost?

What Is A Timing Chain?

The timing chain is an internal component used in any internal combustion engine that synchronizes the rotation of the engine’s crankshaft and camshaft. Typically, a timing chain is made of metal links, resembling a bicycle chain.

The adjustment of the timing chain is made at a specified point of the crankshaft and camshaft, ensuring that the engine’s intake and exhaust valves open and close at exactly the right time according to the piston movements. So that the fuel mixture can be ignited properly in the internal combustion chamber of the engine.

Engine timing chains are more durable than belts, making them less frequent maintenance and providing a longer life span and higher performance than belts.


How Does Timing Chain Work?

A timing chain is a component made up of individual metal links. The timing chain is located under the timing cover on either end of an internal combustion engine. The timing chain is attached to the top of the camshaft from the engine’s crank shaft.

When the crankshaft is rotated, the engine’s crankshaft pulls the timing chain, and the rotation of the timing chain causes the camshaft to rotate, causing the lobes of the camshaft to open the engine’s air intake and exhaust valves at the correct time intervals to position the pistons as they open and close.

Due to this, the fuel combustion process in the internal combustion chamber of the engine operates efficiently. Engine oil is supplied for lubrication of the timing chain so that it can operate successfully without additional friction.

But the timing chain can become loose or damaged over time. A timing chain cover is used to protect the timing chain from any foreign debris.

Timing Chain Kit Components

A timing chain kit for any internal combustion engine uses a number of timing chain parts that allow the timing chain to function efficiently. The main components of the timing chain kit are as follows.

  • Timing Chain
  • Chain Tensioner
  • Slider Rail
  • Tensioning rail
  • Sprocket
  • Cam phaser

Symptoms Of A Bad Timing Chain

There are a variety of symptoms of a bad timing chain. These symptoms indicate damage to the timing chain of any internal combustion engine.

1. Engine Rattling or Ticking Noise

Often, you can hear a rattling or ticking noise from the engine when the timing chain is damaged or loose, and this noise gets louder during acceleration.

Because a loose or worn timing chain starts hitting the timing chain cover when the engine is running. Due to this, a strange noise starts coming from around the timing cover of the engine.

2. Difficulty Starting The Engine

Sometimes the setting of the timing chain can be slightly damaged or incorrect due to excessive slack in the engine timing chain. Also known as engine timing out.

Due to this, starting the engine becomes difficult, and the engine of the vehicle starts with great difficulty during prolonged cracking.

Because the engine’s timing is incorrect, the air inlet valve and exhaust valve of the engine are not able to open and close at the right time according to the position of the piston.

3. Reduced Engine Power

A damaged timing chain of the engine causes the rotation timing of the crankshaft and camshaft of the engine to be out of whack, causing the air inlet valves and exhaust valves to not open and close at the correct time intervals for the fuel combustion operation.

This severely impairs engine life and fuel combustion is severely disrupted. Due to this, a reduction in engine power and performance can be seen.

4. Damaged & Bent Valves

Sometimes when the engine is started, due to sudden timing out or sudden timing chain break, the valves attached to the engine head get damaged or bent.

Because due to timing out of the engine or breakage of the timing chain, the valves remain in the open position, due to which the valves collide with the pistons of the engine and due to the high pressure of the piston, the valves in the engine head are completely damaged or bent.

5. Engine Not Starting

Many times the engine does not start at all even after trying due to broken timing of the engine or due to over timing of the timing chain. Because due to a broken timing chain or excessive timing out, the engine valves are unable to open or close at the correct time intervals.

Due to this, the fuel combustion action in the internal combustion chamber of the engine is completely stopped, and due to this, the engine does not start even after trying hard.

When Timing Chain Replacement

Normally the timing chain of normal cars or other vehicles engine lasts from about 60000 miles to 95000 miles with good maintenance.

It is recommended to have the timing chain replaced between 60,000 and 95,000 miles by a professional vehicle mechanic.

However, you may experience the symptoms and signs of a bad timing chain long before the timing chain has reached a more damaged state.

For example, the noise of the timing chain starts coming from around the timing chain cover. The timing chain should be replaced if it makes strange noises.

Because a break or failure of the timing chain while the engine is running can cause serious damage to internal engine parts.

How To Replace Timing Chain?

To replace the timing chain of the engine, you have to follow the following procedure. By following these steps, you will be able to easily replace the engine timing chain.

  • First, you’ll need to remove the engine’s timing cover, to give you access to the timing chain and gears.
    To remove the timing cover, you have to unscrew its nuts with the help of adequate tools.
  • Then, rotate the engine crank and engine to the top dead center (TDC) position.
  • Next, lock the timing mark on the part driven by the engine’s timing chain.
  • Then loosen the timing chain tensioner and remove the timing chain from the gear.
  • Place the new timing chain on the gear and tension the timing chain with a tensioner, making sure the timing marks are properly aligned.
  • After this, you should check the timing mark once again.
  • Then, reinstall the timing cover.

Note: the timing chain replacement procedure may vary depending on the model and engine type of the vehicle. You must first check the service manual for the specific vehicle in order to replace the timing chain.

Timing Chain Replacement Cost

Timing chain replacement cost for any internal combustion engine depends on the vehicle model, engine type and mechanic’s labor cost rates. because all these factors can increase or decrease the timing belt replacement cost.

Typically, the replacement cost of a typical engine timing chain can average between $1000 and $1700, including the labor cost of a mechanic. If you choose to replace the timing chain yourself, expect the cost to be between $650 and $850. However, replacing a timing chain is a complicated task, and doing so without experience can be a bad idea.

Having the timing chain replaced by a professional mechanic can cost between $350 and $850 for mechanic labor. The labor cost of a mechanic can be more or less, depending on the location and experience.

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