The timing chain in a vehicle works as a connector between the camshaft and the crankshaft. By synchronizing the rotation between the camshaft and the crankshaft, it causes the valves to open and close at specific intervals.
By controlling the timing of the camshaft and the crankshaft, it helps the engine to perform at its optimum best state. Geographically, it’s located in front of the car’s engine.
A faulty timing chain can cause the car to come at a complete standstill state, which is to say that the car’s engine will stop firing. In worst-case scenarios, it can completely ruin the engine. This should explain the importance of this automobile component.
How long does Timing Chain Last?
Although made from perishable rubber, you would be glad to learn that timing chains usually last the entire lifetime of a car. That said, the vehicle’s make and model matter a great deal over here. Some vehicles require a timing chain replacement every 100,000 miles.
Some cars can go up to 300,000 miles without any issues. Roughly, they last easily for 200,000 on most vehicles. So, ‘lifetime’ can actually be defined as 200,000 miles. As hinted earlier, most vehicles routinely go beyond this number. So, there’s no set interval for timing chain interval.
The idea is to get the timing chain replaced when it shows symptoms of wear and tear.
How Much Does It Cost To Replace A Timing Chain?
A typical timing chain replacement job would cost you anywhere between $400 to $1100. That said, most of the dollars would go towards the labor cost because a repair of this nature will consume a lot of time. But then, the labor would vary depending on the make and model of the vehicle.
|Mr. Tire||$480 – $850
|Pep Boys||$550 – $1100
|Your Mechanic||$405 – $850
|Midas||$500 – $1050
Some vehicles make it easy to do it without too much of disassembling. On the other hand, some vehicles may require you to remove the entire gearbox and engine. The timing chain by itself would cost you no more than $100 to $250.
Important Pointer: If the timing chain has caused damage to the valve/piston, then the expenses can easily run into thousands of dollars. Worse yet, if there is any internal damage that requires the mechanic to replace or rebuild the entire engine, then the sky is the limit with respect to the cost you are going to bear. In other words, changing the timing chain is far cheaper than repairing the damages it does upon owner negligence. So, it will be an outright stupid act to keep driving with a faulty timing chain.
What Are The Symptoms of a Bad Timing Chain?
Increased engine noise and stretching of the timing chain are the most notable signs of a bad timing chain. Besides these signs, engine misfiring can also alert you of a faulty timing chain.
In rare cases, you might notice smoke coming out of the car’s exhaust system. Of course, it would be hard to correlate the engine smoke to a bad timing chain.
The worst symptom would be the engine failing completely. You should pray that this shouldn’t happen because this might call for an expensive repair. The car mechanic will have to rebuild the entire motor, which is not going to happen for a paltry sum of money.
For those who don’t know, regular oil change with a good quality oil will keep the timing chain running for a long. So, you don’t have to do anything special to maintain the timing chain. Changing the engine oil on schedule is the only maintenance it needs.
Benefits of Getting the Timing Chain Replaced
Frankly speaking, you will feel as if your car has gotten a new life. Seriously, you will notice a day and night difference in the car’s horsepower. Your car will accelerate like never before. In other words, you will be surprised by the car’s new-found power.
Better still, getting the timing chain replaced in time will also improve your car’s mileage by ensuring that the camshaft and the crankshaft work in sync with each other.
The perfect synergy between the camshaft and the crankshaft will result in great combustion, leading to better fuel efficiency during a drive.
Timing Chain Replacement Procedure Explained
Assuming that you have a lot of automobile repair experience, you can consider replacing the timing chain from the comforts of your garage. If not, you are better off paying a car mechanic to do the job because of how labor-intensive and complex it is.
- Begin by locating the owner manual because you will have to assemble and disassemble a lot of parts. By referring to the owner manual, you will also know the model of the timing chain that’s compatible with your vehicle.
- The next step would be to clean the engine with a de-greaser. This step will help you locate any loopholes at the very beginning. Actively look for leaks or other damages at the time of cleaning. Of course, do not clean the engine when it’s running hot.
- After the engine is thoroughly cleaned and inspected, you need to determine the car’s firing order. You will usually see this stamped on the engine. Alternatively, check if it’s mentioned in the owner manual.
- Next, you should disconnect the battery cables. After all, it’s not safe to work on your car with your batteries plugged in. Then, disconnect the radiator by removing its cap. This will allow you to drain the coolant from the system.
- Keep in mind that the engine coolant is very toxic. So, it needs to be handled with great care. It’s advisable to store it in a plastic container or an antifreeze bottle.
- Then, work on removing the radiator hoses, drive belts, heater hoses, water pump fan, and finally, the timing chain cover. As expected, you will have to unscrew many bolts to achieve this feat.
- Remember, the bolts will be of different lengths. So, you might forget what goes where. Therefore, it’s better to have a system in place to not forget their appropriate position.
- Locate marks on the camshaft gears, crankshaft, and the timing chain. Since these gears are linked to the timing chain, the marking will help you find their relative position.
- The next step would be to remove the timing chain by loosening the tension gear with the help of a ratchet or a wrench. Now, you should be ready to install the new timing chain.
- Before installing the new chain, you must lubricate the gear by using some gear oil. This will ensure that both the gear and the chain will keep performing well for a long.
- Place the new timing chain onto the gears in alignment with the marks, exactly as the previous timing chain did. Then, get the camshaft sprocket bolts reinstalled.
- The next step would be to replace the crankshaft seal. You can drive out the existing crankshaft seal by using a hammer and punch. Then, tape the new crankshaft seal in its correct place on the timing cover.
- Keep in mind that it’s necessary to coat the seal with oil to ensure that it functions well, even when the seal is totally compressed. So, don’t make the classic mistake of skipping this crucial step.
- Finally, you can remove the timing chain cover and follow it up with the reinstallation of the water pump and fan. Then, you will have to fill the radiator with coolant, and reconnect all the bolts and hoses that were unscrewed earlier.
- Of course, you will be reconnecting the battery as well. You can then start the engine, which will tell you how successful you were with the installation of the new timing chain.
- If you hear voices coming from the engine, it would be a hint that something was not done right. Also, check for leaks under the hood. If the car is leaking coolant, check whether or not all the bolts and hoses are connected properly.
- Otherwise, if the car is leaking oil, then you might have to work on replacing the crankshaft seal again, which would, of course, take some more time and effort than usual.
- If the car is running smoothly like butter without leaking or making any weird noises, you can congratulate yourself for conducting a complex repair on your own.
How to Save Money on Timing Chain Replacement Cost?
Unless you are a pro mechanic or have been one in the past, you shouldn’t attempt a complex job of this nature. So, we wouldn’t suggest that you take a shot at this job to save labor costs. Considering this, the best way to save money on timing chain replacement cost is to attend to it at the earliest.
Yes, it’s cheaper to change the timing chain as soon as it starts to wear down, and before it causes damage to other car parts. To repair the timing chain, the entire engine needs to be taken apart, which exposes the mechanic to the water pump.
Since you are already paying a lot for manual labor to remove the entire engine, you might as well get the water pump replaced at the same time. This is another smart move through which you can save some money.