What's The Difference Between A Timing Belt And A Timing Chain?

Posted on: 21 July 2015

Your car requires some kind of device to make sure that its timing is correct. The correct timing happens when the camshaft and the crankshaft happen in sync. This allows the cylinders and pistons that make up your car's energy source to fire when they need to. There are a couple of ways for that timing to happen. One is to use a timing belt, the other is to use a timing chain. But what's the difference between a timing belt and a timing chain?

Timing Belt

The timing belt is made out of rubber. In order to make the belts last longer, the manufacturer usually layers in a substance that can reinforce the rubber. Those substances can also be found in places like non-stick cookware or bulletproof vests. The belts run through a series of pulleys. These pulleys are supposed to make sure that the timing belt doesn't have any give to it. If it is too loose or stretched out, the timing on the engine will be off and it won't run as smoothly. Generally, timing belts are pretty quiet, but when they start to wear out they can start squealing, especially when the car starts up or it's wet. Timing belts should be replaced around every 60,000 miles.

Timing Chains

A timing chain looks like something off of a bike. Instead of running around pulleys, they run around gears. Timing chains aren't generally as long as timing belts because of the fact that they run around gears. The chain has to have an exact fit around the gears, and unlike the pulleys, the gears can't be slightly adjusted to take up the slack in the chain. Timing chains theoretically can last the full life of the car, however, some manufacturers do recommend changing them out periodically. Because they are made out of metal, timing chains are slightly louder than a timing belt is, but generally not so loud as to be louder than the rest of the engine. One problem with timing chains is that if they do break while the engine is running, the pieces of metal snapping under tension can do a lot of damage to the engine. 

The proper timing is important to the proper functioning of your car. Your car needs to have either a timing belt or a timing chain in order to maintain that timing. If you aren't sure which one your car has, or think it needs to be replaced, talk to an auto repair shop to see if they can answer your questions. 

For more information, contact a professional like Central Body Co Inc.