Timing Belt or Timing Chain, Which One Is Better?


Timing Belt or Timing Chain, Which One Is Better

We all want a reliable vehicle to drive and one topic that keeps coming up in the automotive forums is timing chains vs timing belts. I decided to do a little research to help determine is one is clearly better than the other.

After doing some research, here is what I found.

For your car to work, there needs to be coordination in the engine. The camshaft’s timing and the crankshaft need to be in complete synchrony to ensure that this happens. This article looks at the timing chain and timing belt, explaining how they function and their differences.

What’s Better, a Timing Chain or a Timing Belt?

So, what is better, a timing chain or a timing belt? Both the timing chain and timing belt are good choices. They each come with tradeoffs. In general, chains last longer but belts are typically cheaper to replace. The one way to find out is by looking at the pros and cons and how they compare to each other.

That’s not all; read on to determine the verdict on which is better between a timing chain and a timing belt.

 How Do Cars Use a Timing Belt or a Timing Chain?

The timing of a car’s engine is either controlled by a timing belt or a timing chain. Every car engine is uniquely made to either use one of these two. You cannot change from a belt to a chain unless you change cars.

Understanding timing belts and chains make it easier to know the right vehicle that matches your preferences. For the longest time, many people have had various disagreements on which one works better than the other, with everyone having an opinion of why they prefer one.

 What Makes a Timing Belt and a Timing Chain?

The timing chain and belt work the same way. The only difference is in the material used to make them.

While a timing chain is made of metal, a timing belt is made of rubber. Because of this reason, there have been so many debates on which one is superior to the other. Let’s take a closer look at the two and see what their pros and cons are.

Knowing the timing used in the engines will help you make an informed decision.

What Do You Need To Know About the Timing Belt?

Many people assume that timing belts are weaker than timing chains. It might be because everyone thinks anything metallic is of more superior quality. As such, some people will, without a doubt, settle for a timing chain and leave out a timing belt.

Pros:

  • Compared to the chain, the belts are quieter and will not produce a noise when driving. They also have little to no vibration in the cars that use them. This factor played a significant role in making many people move from cars with timing chains to vehicles that use timing belts.
  • They are firm and tight; therefore, they do not stretch when in use. This factor makes the belt slip-proof, coming in handy mostly after longtime usage.
  • They are easy and cleaner to maintain. Timing belts do not use oil and are easier to maintain, regulating the amount of oil that goes into the car.
  • It is durable and being rust resistant makes it stable when compared to chains. You do not need to worry about keeping it dry as you would about the chain timing.
  • It is affordable since the belt chain is made of rubber, which is cheaper to manufacture. It does not need lubrication or specialized tensioning systems.
  • It can last up to 100,000 miles when new or 60,000 miles in a used car.
timing belt

Cons:

  • High cost over time. While timing belts are cheap to install, you will most likely replace them more often than you would the chain, which amounts to more money in the long run.
  • It can only transfer power over a short distance and transfers lower power.
  • It needs more attention from the driver. The timing belt will require that you check on it more often and change it to serve you for longer.
  • Changing the belt means you also have to change the water pump, which is an added cost.

 What Do You Need To Know About the Timing Chain?

The timing chain has been in use for a longer period than the timing belt. Still, some people prefer to use the timing chain long after the invention of the timing belt.

Pros:

  • Timing chains last longer. They can last from 250,000 – 300 000 miles compared to the 100,000 miles a timing belt lasts.
  • It is easier to predict if it needs a change. Unlike the timing belt, which unnoticeably snaps, the timing chain will warn you if it is due for a change. The noise it produces is different from the usual noise it usually has.
  • When changing the chain, there is no need to change the water pump. This makes the who process cheaper.
  • Unlike the timing belt, it does not slip. The chain is well designed to fit in to ensure it does not slip or break.
timing chain

Cons:

  • The timing belt is loud. This is because the chain is metallic and produces noise and vibration whenever the car is in motion.
  • It costs more to replace it. Even though the timing chain takes a while before you replace it, it costs much more than the timing belt.

To ensure that a timing chain lasts long, the chain needs to be frequently lubricated. It is greatly affected by the oil you use in your engine. Therefore, you have to be careful to use quality oil for your engine.

 How Do You Maintain a Timing Chain or a Timing Belt?

Whether you settle for a timing chain or belt, you need to remember that both will need care. Both can get spoilt and have dire consequences if at all neglected.

You need to ensure your timing belt/chain is maintained. The only way to do this is to have regular checks done on your car.

Routine diagnostics will ensure you stay updated on your car’s working condition, and if need be, it can be replaced. It is essential to avoid waiting for the timing chain or belt to break and ultimately have your car towed. The consequences can be dire if you do this.

Get your engine regularly checked by a professional. It will save you money and lives in the long run. Expert mechanics will repair your car and fit the right timing belt or chain for your vehicle.

Final Verdict

Whether you settle for a timing belt or chain is entirely up to you and your needs. Take the time to look at the pros and cons, and then you can settle on the one that satisfies you. Below is a closer comparison between timing belts and timing chains.

  • While the timing chain is loud and has vibrations, the timing belt is silent and ensures a smooth ride. However, according to your needs, you should settle on one that meets your driving preferences.
  • Whereas you might spend less money to get a timing belt kit initially, you might end up replacing it more times than someone who spent more on a timing chain, and in the long run, you will have spent more money on the timing belt.
  • A timing chain requires more care and costs more, whereas a timing belt will cost you less. There is no hassle in getting the right type of oil for lubricating the belt when compared to the right oil for the chains.
  • Another thing that you might want to consider is the fact that you will know when the chain needs to be replaced since it makes a noise. On the other hand, the belt will snap, and you may realize it too late.

Putting all these factors in mind before heading out to buy your car eventually affects your decision to care for and maintain your vehicle. Remember, your choice of car is what may determine the timing belt or chain. If you badly want a car, you might have to accept the features it comes with, be it a timing belt or a timing chain.

Hopefully, the tips mentioned above can help you when deciding which car to buy.

John Nelson

You can find John stringing a hammock from the back of his SUV to a tree camping in the outdoors most weekends during warmer weather. John loves the outdoors and the freedom four-wheel-drive vehicles offer.

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