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How to Successfully Differentiate Between a Timing Chain and Timing Belt

/ / How to Successfully Differentiate Between a Timing Chain and Timing Belt

(Last Modified on: July 3, 2019)

When you ask someone what the difference between a timing belt and a timing chain, they will usually be smart. They will tell you that the difference is that one of them is of the belt variety, while the other is more of a chain themed timer. This is a misleadingly simple answer. It doesn’t tell us the full and interesting story. There are so many more exciting details to discover. Let’s begin by learning what we mean by engine timing.

sell car with broken cam belt

The Low Down on Engine Timing

If there is one thing that is unequivocally true about modern automobiles, it is that the majority of them have four stroke engines of the gas variety. The strokes all have names. One is called the intake stroke. Another stroke has the title of “compression stroke.” Then we have the power stroke, and last but not least, the exhaust stroke. Together they form the four stroke cycle and during each cycle the camshaft and the crankshaft are playing important roles.

We get one spin from the camshaft and two rotations from the crankshaft. The resulting dynamic is referred to by experts as mechanical timing. The movement of the valves and pistons that are found inside the engine’s cylinders is reliant on mechanical timing. The opening of the valves has to occur at the exact correct moment at the same time as the pistons. If the timing is off even by a tiny bit, we don’t have a running engine.

Timing Belts

The first ever automobile that employed the timing belt was made in the mid-sixties. Previous to that, chains ruled the scene. Why did the belt suddenly become such a welcome addition? For one, it is a much quieter alternative. On top of that, they were also in possession of a good amount of strength.

However, they were not at all impervious to wear and tear. They need to be replaced every 100,000 to 160,000 Km’s. A broken timing belt means that you won’t be going anywhere in your car any time soon.

When you look at a timing belt, you will see that it has pulleys that it is run through. There are also belt tensioners making sure that the belt is under the correct level of tension. When the belt wears out, the tensioner will also likely be worn out. Your mechanic will more than likely replace the both of them at once, along with the water pump.

Timing Chains

The job of the timing chain is identical to the job of the timing belt. However, the chain is less vulnerable to wear, tear and age. The result is that it lasts for a lengthier period of time. There is some disagreement over whether they have the same longevity as the vehicle they are a part of, or whether they do need replacing every now and then. If they do need replacing it will be far less times than the belt.

If you have ever seen a bike chain, you will have a fair idea of what a timing chain looks like. They make more of a racket sonically than timing belts. Another drawback is the fact that when they do happen to break, they damage the engine so much more than a belt does. It can cost thousands of dollars to have it fixed.

The tension of the timing chain is controlled by tensioners, like a belt. But it is the engine’s oil pressure that dictates the tension in the chain belts’ instance. This is why, when you have a chain belt, the oil pressure within your engine is so important. An abnormal drop in that pressure can mean curtains for your car’s short term ability to drive. At least you don’t have to worry about it affecting the water pump.

Interference Engines

These are the engines where the pistons and valves take turns being in the cylinder. The problem with a broken timing belt with these kinds of engine is that the pistons and valves could be inside the cylinder at once. This just means even more damage than you would be getting if the non-interference engine.

Damaged Timing Belts

If you take good care of your car and keep the maintenance levels high, there is no reason to worry much about timing belt or chain issues. However, this doesn’t change the fact that when something does happen, it is bad news. Let’s look at what is happening to cause a timing belt or chain to take on damage.

When does a timing belt break? When the engine is starting up or shutting down, the amount of tension on the belt is at its maximum. Which is why this is normally when belts break. When this occurs in an interference engine, severe damage is a near certainty. What level of damage will be the result? How fast the engine was running when it happened is one determining factor. Bent or broken valves is what you will probably be the recipient of when the belt breaks when starting up or turning off the engine.

The amount of damage at high rpm includes broken valves that are free to move about violently in the cylinders. The connecting rods will bend, the piston will fall completely to pieces, and the bent rods will create holes everywhere. The engine will effectively be completely torn to shreds, in a manner of speaking. No more engine. It will have to be completely replaced at the cost of thousands.

Damaged Timing chains

If you are driving slowly when the chain breaks, there is a chance that it will simply slide off. The result will be a minimum of damage being caused. However, if you are driving fast, you can expect the chain to wreak absolute havoc on everything that it touches.

Maintain your Car

The main moral of this story is that you need to keep on top of your car’s maintenance. If you don’t, all manner of calamity can befall your beloved automobile.

Get Your Broken Timing Belt repaired or Sell Your Car AS IS?

If fixing costs are exceeding the actual value of your car then you have 2 options:

  • Get it repaired and keep driving the same vehicle. It’s very unlikely to keep the vehicle with low price and high maintenance costs though.
  • Sell your car as is to the Auto Wreckers in your area and get paid. Say hello to Taha Car Collection and get the desired value of your broken vehicle.

Posted By: Glen Hunter | Posted On: July 3, 2019 | Category: Car Problems | Tags: Sell car with snapped cam belt, Sell car with snapped timing chain

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