Does Toyota Rav4 Have a Timing Belt or Chain?

If you have ever wondered if your Toyota Rav4 has a timing belt or chain, know that you are not alone. In a perfect world, each make and model would use one or the other and stick with it. Unfortunately, that is not the world we live in, and whether your Toyota Rav4 has a timing belt or chain depends on the year.

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Yes, you read that right, it all depends on the year. All new vehicles come with an owner’s manual that will tell you whether or not your vehicle has a timing belt or chain because they may vary from year to year or by the manufacturer.

However, it is a bit more difficult to find out this information if you had bought your Toyota Rav4 used/preowned. As long as you know what year your Toyota Rav4 was produced then you will be able to find out whether it has a timing belt or chain.

Why are Timing Belts and Timing Chains Important?

Timing belts and timing chains are crucial to your vehicle’s performance because, without them, your car cannot run.

Engineers craft your vehicle’s engine in a way where it will fun properly and smoothly and a lot of that comes down to specific timing.

Think of it as an assembly line, for the entire assembly line to run smoothly from start to finish, each segment must do its part. If there is a delay in segment two, then it will cause a delay in the rest of the departments.

The same can be said for your timing belts and timing chains. To ensure that timing is perfect, the timing chain and belts need to work with the camshaft and crankshaft to keep the movement of the valves and pistons working together in perfect harmony.

The purpose of the camshaft is to control the valves to let fuel and air in and out of the vehicle. While the camshaft is doing its job, the crankshaft’s job is to move the pistons up and down.

Both of these actions have to occur harmoniously in order for your vehicle to run smoothly. In fact, it is imperative that it does. When the timing is thrown off balance, then there could be damage done to your pistons, valves or even engine.

What is the Difference Between a Timing Belt and Chain?

Timing belts and timing chains perform similar roles. They both “time” the synchronization rotation of the crankshaft and camshaft/camshafts to ensure proper timing for the engine’s valves to open and close during each cylinder’s firing.

In order to keep this synchronization in tiptop shape, you will need to be aware of when it is time to replace your timing belt or timing chain.

Here are some key differences between a timing belt and a timing chain:

  • The material used: timing belts are made of rubber and timing chains are made of metal.
  • Timing chains were implemented before timing belts.
  • Timing belts were introduced later on in the 1960s.
  • Timing belts are quieter than timing chains because of their material.
  • Timing belts are less expensive than timing chains because of their material.
  • Timing chains are located within the engine. They receive lubrication from the engine oil and are able to last a long time.
  • Timing belts are located outside of the engine and because of that, they do tend to dry out and crack easily.

Related Reading: Toyota RAV4 (Non-Hybrid) Years to Avoid

 Does my Toyota Rav4 Have a Timing Belt or Chain?

Once again, finding out whether your Toyota Rav4 has a timing belt or timing chain depends on the year of your Toyota Rav4. If you do not know the year of your car, be sure to check out the owner’s manual.

Toyota Rav 4

Model YearEngineTiming Belt/Timing Chain
1996-20004 CylinderTiming Belt
2001-2017All EnginesTiming Chain

Toyota Rav4 Hybrid

Model YearEngineTiming Belt/Timing Chain
2016-20174 CylinderTiming Chain

How do I Know When to Replace my Timing Belt?

If your Toyota Rav4 runs on a timing belt, then you will need to replace it every 60,000 miles to 90,000 miles.

It is a bit higher maintenance than the timing chain in this sense but it is crucial to not go over the 60,000-90,000 range. Your auto mechanic will let you know if it is time for you to replace your timing belt.

Although 90,000 is the maximum range, Toyota does recommend that you do not wait that long. They recommend that you get it changed around the 60,000 miles mark.

If you do not replace your timing belt then it will result in belt failure, and it could also do major damage to your engine.

Recommended Reading: Best Years for The RAV4

How do I Know When to Replace my Timing Chain?

If your Toyota Rav4 runs on a timing chain, then you are quite lucky. While a timing belt needs to be replaced around 60,000 miles, a timing chain does not need to be replaced unless there is a problem with it.

This has a lot to do with the fact that it is inside of your Toyota Rav4 engine, and not outside of it which is where the timing belt is.

This means that if your Toyota Rav4 runs on a timing chain, then it will be less maintenance and less time consuming on your end.

However, it is recommended to take a look at your timing chain around the 80,000 miles and 120,000 miles mark.

When you take your car in for the usual maintenance checks such as an oil change, your mechanic will check your timing chain to see if it is running smoothly.

However, if you experience any of these signs before then, you might want to bring your Toyota Rav4 in for a quick maintenance check:

  • Your car backfires.
  • Your car seems to be working a bit harder than normal to function. For example, if you leave the engine running for too long you can feel it shake or hear it struggle.
  • Your car engine begins to shake if you leave it on. Normally, this would not be a cause for concern if you leave your car running for a long time. However, if it is only on for less than a minute but it sounds “out of breath” then it could be an issue with your timing chain.
  • Lastly, if your car does not start up at all then it could be a sign you need to replace your timing chain. A car that will not turn on, indicates a full timing chain failure or a broken timing chain.
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The Takeaway

It is very important to know whether your Toyota Rav4 has a timing belt or a timing chain for many reasons. One of the most important is knowing when to bring it in for maintenance.

While there are signs that your Toyota Rav4 needs to get its timing belt or timing chain replaced, when those signs start to show up, it means that you have waited too long.

It is better to be safe than sorry; therefore, it is better to get it done even if your car still has a bit to go rather than push it to the edge and get it done when it completely breaks.

When you take your Toyota Rav4 in for its usual maintenance check, be sure to ask your mechanic to take a look at your belt or chain if you are not sure if you should replace them.

Pricing for the parts and maintenance may vary, so be sure to talk to your local auto mechanic for their prices. Usually, if you buy the part there and get the maintenance done there, they will offer some sort of discount on either the part of the service.

We hope that you found this article helpful, and if you would like to read up on how timing belts and timing chains work, then here is a great article.

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