Timing Chain and Cam Belt
The cambelt, timing belt or timing chain, is a critical component in the engine of many vehicles. It's responsible for synchronising the rotation of the engine's camshaft and crankshaft, ensuring valves open and close at the correct times. Timing belts and chains won't last forever, and you will usually get a warning sign that something is wrong, although it can be important to act quickly!
We look closer at the differences and how to spot a potential issue.
The timing chain in a vehicle is an essential component that synchronizes the engine's camshaft and crankshaft, ensuring proper valve timing and overall engine performance. Unlike timing belts, which are made of rubber and require periodic replacement, timing chains are generally more durable and designed to last for a longer time. However, they are not immune to wear and tear.
The lifespan of a timing chain can vary depending on factors such as the make and model of the vehicle, driving conditions, regular maintenance, and the quality of the chain itself. Some modern vehicles may have timing chains designed to last the entire lifespan of the engine, while others might require replacement at certain mileage intervals.
Since the cambelt is made of rubber, it can wear out over time and may need replacement to avoid potential engine damage. Here are some signs that your cambelt may need changing:
Check your vehicle's owner's manual for the recommended cambelt replacement interval. Typically, it's recommended to replace the cambelt every 60,000 to 100,000 miles, but this can vary depending on the make and model of your car.
Even if you haven't reached the recommended mileage interval, cambelts can deteriorate with age due to exposure to heat, oil, and other elements. If your vehicle is over five years old, it's worth considering a cambelt inspection, especially if the mileage is close to the replacement interval.
A worn-out or loose cambelt can produce a high-pitched squealing noise while the engine is running. This noise may come from the cambelt slipping on the pulleys or tensioners.
Visible wear or damage
If you or a mechanic can inspect the cambelt and find visible signs of wear, cracks, fraying, or other damage, it's a clear indication that the cambelt needs replacement.
Difficulty starting the engine
A failing cambelt can cause the engine's timing to be off, leading to difficulty starting the vehicle or the engine misfiring.
If the cambelt is significantly worn or broken, the engine's timing can become severely disrupted, leading to engine misfires and poor performance.
Reduced engine power
If the cambelt is slipping or has broken, the engine may lose power or struggle to accelerate properly.
A damaged or misaligned cambelt can cause engine vibrations felt through the steering wheel or the vehicle's body.
If you experience any of these signs or your vehicle has reached the recommended replacement interval, it's crucial to have the cambelt inspected.
Timing chain & belt FAQs
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