Timing Chain vs Timing Belt
Timing chain and timing belt are part of the engine of any automobile that synchronizes the timing of the valves of the engine. This belt or chain transfers the power of crankshaft to the cam shaft which activates the valves, thus providing air and fuel to engine cylinders. Both timing chains and timing belts perform the same task. In the 70’s and 80’s timing chains were popular and most automobile makers made use of these chains. In 90’s rubber made timing belts became popular, but now again it is timing chains that are being preferred by manufacturers. Let us find out if there is any difference between timing chain and timing belt, and what their features and pros and cons are.
The real difference between a chain and a belt is what you would expect with the materials with which they are made. A chain is made of interlinking metal pieces, is heavier, stronger and makes more noise. It is also longer lasting. However, a timing belt is less expensive, is serviceable, less complex than a chain, but needs to be replaced more often than a chain. It is car manufacturer’s perceived efficiency that makes them go with a timing chain or a timing belt. You can hear the noise made by the chain when the car is running but the timing belt rarely makes any noise.
Timing chains tend to last the lifetime of an engine as they have been designed to stretch rather than break with use. Belts on the other hand tend to break down if you do not get them replaced as per the recommendations of the manufacturer. Why would manufacturers then use belts at all if chains do not need to be replaced ever? Well, the answer to this puzzle lies in the fact that as chains stretch with usage, they tend to affect the timing of the engine resulting in poor performance of the car whereas this problem does not arise when there is a timing belt instead of a timing chain as it breaks periodically and needs to be replaced.
Both timing chains and timing belts are located in the same area in the engine and you can see them when you open the hood of the car. Timing belts are covered with a plastic cover, while timing chains are covered with a metal casing. This is because a timing chain requires lubrication with engine oil every now and then.
Timing chain is more expensive than a belt, and it is hard to replace also. On the other hand, belt is cheaper and it is very easy to replace. But there is the danger of the belt breaking down, if you do not get it replaced after certain number of miles and you could be stranded in the middle of the road if it does happen. On the other hand, if you feel that your timing chain has stretched, you can get it serviced or adjusted. Timing chain on the other hand starts making noise to let you know you need to get it adjusted and very rarely does it break.