Updated at: 22-07-2022 - By: Lucas

Internal combustion engines have always had timing belt and timing chain systems. The engine contains numerous critical components, all of which are vital to the engine’s smooth operation. One kind of timing is found in every vehicle.

Both a timing belt and a timing chain have their advantages and disadvantages, but for the most part, they do the same thing.

What are the timing belt and the timing chain?

Timing Chains Vs Timing Belts-2

The engine’s crankshaft and camshaft are synchronized by the timing belt and chain.

Especially the timing chain, timing belts and chains have been around since the invention of the internal combustion engine, as stated above. As early as 1890, the newly invented internal combustion engine used a timing chain.

It wasn’t until 1940, when Pontiac introduced a six-cylinder engine using a rubber strap instead of a chain, that this was possible.

The main manufacturers began employing the new idea for a variety of reasons after that, resulting in an explosion of engines using timing belts.

Why, therefore, are there two kinds of people in the world today, rather than just one?

Advantages of a timing belt

  • Let’s start with why the belt is good. First of all, the timing belt, because of its material, is much cheaper to produce and to buy made of rubber and not a stainless steel material like the timing chain.
  • Another advantage is that engines that have timing belts are much quieter, getting rid of that metal with metal contact which was obvious in older car models with timing chains.
  • The belt is slightly rotated on roller bearings. This is how high-powered, 8- or 12-cylinder engines appeared, achieving the performance of having no vibration at idle.
  • The timing belt has no need for lubrication, an aspect that is critical for the timing chain, it can run clean.
  • Weight advantage. A timing belt kit is much lighter than a timing chain kit
  • There is no stretching due to wear
  • a wide speed range
  • Resistant to chemicals
  • Resistant to rust
  • No slippage problems
  • Up to 98% high mechanical efficiency
  • Transmissions efficiency is not lost

Disadvantages of a timing belt

  • Requires more attention from the driver
  • In some engines, it depends on the water pump
  • Requires to change more often

Advantages of timing chain

After being the initial part of an internal combustion engine, the timing chain saw a dramatic decline when the timing belt was introduced. Cars with larger engines were more likely to have timing chains.

Timing chains made a resurgence in 1990, perhaps due to the fact that they survive longer than a timing belt, which resurfaced in the 1990s.

Carmakers including BMW, Volkswagen, and Mercedes Benz started putting timing chains on more and more models, even on engines with fewer cylinders, as a result.

Some engines, such as BMW’s n47 and Volkswagen’s 1. 2 TSI, had timing chain issues and had to be replaced with timing belts later on.

As far as advantages are concerned:

The timing chain lasts a long time.

Several automakers claim that because it is metal, the engine doesn’t require any maintenance. I believe this is partially true provided you take good care of the engine and use high-quality oil. There are, of course, exceptions to any rule.

If you’ve driven more over 250,000 miles, several experts recommend replacing the timing chain (155. 000 200. 000 miles). This is where the timing chain has an advantage over the timing belt, which must be replaced every 60k kilometers (35k miles) and every 100k kilometers (62k miles), respectively (60k miles)

Before it fails, it gives you a lot of symptoms

Another benefit is that when the timing chain has to be replaced, it emits a series of strange noises from the engine. The movie below is a wonderful representation of these symptoms, so you can better comprehend them.

When you change the chain, you don’t need to change the water pump

Another advantage of the timing chain over the timing belt is that it is more durable. In most belt-driven motors, the water pump must also be replaced when the belt is replaced.

Non-existent elongation

In spite of its many links, a chain does not work or vary its length based on temperature. Why do you think this is? This results in a smaller chain tensioner, but it also reduces the chain’s danger of breaking.

The chain does not slip

The chain, unlike the belt, can’t be jumped from one place to another. Flowing oil could cause the pulley to fall off the belt. As a result, the belt will leap out of place, which will cause the engine to fail.

Using the car with weird engine noises for a lengthy period of time could lead to its eventual breakdown. Higher powers have no effect on the chain because it is impervious to movement.

Disadvantages of timing chain


Timing Chains Vs Timing Belts

Noisy engine

The timing chain has a drawback in that you can clearly hear it. Unlike a timing belt, the metal pieces of a timing chain are clearly visible, causing a noise.

However, modern engines fitted with timing chains are no longer as noisy as they formerly were because of advances in technology.

Increased price

Even though a timing chain lasts longer than a timing belt, a timing chain kit is more expensive than a timing belt kit when it needs to be changed. Time and effort are included in this since chain timing is more difficult to replace than belts.

Timing chains need lubrication

The timing chain needs to be maintained to ensure long-term performance, thus if your engine is fitted with a timing chain, you need exercise extreme caution when choosing the oil you use.

The engine’s timing chain and other moving parts will last longer if the oil is of high quality. If you’re having trouble figuring out which motor oil to use, consult our advice.

The chain’s tensioner is based on hydraulic pressure

The timing chain’s tensioner relies on hydraulic pressure, unlike the belt’s mechanical tensioners, which are held in place by a spring or a buffer. This can be problematic.

When using a hydraulic chain tensioner, the chain will widen and vibrate until it becomes too loud if there isn’t immediate pressure applied to it.

As a result, driving with old oil in the motor or if the pressure is low will cause the tensioner to malfunction, which is a problem.

What happens when a timing belt or a timing chain fails?

To begin, we must ascertain the vehicle’s engine type in order to provide an answer to this query. whether or not the engine type has any kind of interference.

What is an interference engine?

When the maximum position of the piston exceeds the maximum opening level of the valve, it is known as an interference engine type. Because of the gap, the valves and piston do not collide when the belt or chain is working properly. However, if the belt or chain breaks, the piston and valves will spin independently and collide.

What is a non-interference engine?

Even if the timing belt or chain fails, a non-interference engine does not incur any damage. Because the pistons can never climb over the lowest position of the valves.

There is enough space between them to prevent them from colliding, even when the piston and valve move erratically.

Assuming your engine is non-interfering, you can get away with replacing just the timing belt or chain kit when it breaks.

When a belt or chain fails in an interference engine, the consequences might be significantly more severe. Compared to a broken chain, a belt constructed of reinforced rubber can do less harm.

Even the protective casing can’t be broken by it.

The pistons and valves, on the other hand, will need to be replaced because they will knock against each other. Aside from the cost of a new timing kit, this involves high labor costs and high-cost parts.

An interference engine with a broken timing chain is far more damaging. An engine block, cylinder head, and crankshaft can all be damaged if a chain breaks or wears out.

A new engine is almost always required if the chain breaks.

A non-interference engine can be seen in action here.


There are advantages and downsides to using timing belts and chains. To summarize, timing chains are noisier, whereas belts are less expensive. Unlike a timing chain, they don’t require lubrication, but they’ll wear out sooner than they should.

Chains, on the other hand, are more obtrusive, but they also require more time and money to replace as they wear out. In addition, they last longer if you maintain your engine properly. Ultimately, the choice is yours as to what will work best for you.