How Long Does a Timing Chain Last?

Timing Chain

A timing chain is a metal chain, as opposed to the timing belt which is made of rubber. The chain is located inside of the engine and needs to be lubricated by the oil in the engine so everything runs together. Every time you use the engine, the timing chain will be used. It connects the crankshaft to the camshaft. The metal links in the chain move on the tooth sprockets on the end of the crankshaft and crankshaft so that they rotate together.

The timing chain normally needs to be replaced between 40,000 and 100,000 miles unless there is a problem. Issues with the chain are pretty common in high mileage vehicles, so if you are driving an older vehicle, or one with a lot of miles, it is best to be on the lookout for symptoms of the timing chain going bad or failing. If you do start noticing problems, or your vehicle, contact a certified mechanic to have your timing chain replaced.

Over time, the timing chain wears out because it stretches. Furthermore, the chain tensioner or the guides that are connected to the timing chain may wear out as well, causing the timing chain to fail completely. If the chain fails, the vehicle will not run at all. One cause of the timing chain wearing out faster, is using the wrong oil. Most of the time, modern vehicles will only be able to use synthetic oil because they have to meet certain specifications to ensure the oil flows quickly, and with the proper pressure. The wrong oil can cause extra load on the chain and the engine will not be properly lubricated.

Since the timing chain can go bad and will need to be replaced, it is important to be able to recognize the symptoms so you can have it repaired before it fails completely.

Signs your timing chain needs to be replaced include:

  • Your vehicle has a rough idle, meaning your engine shakes

  • Your car backfires

  • The vehicle seems to be working harder than normal

  • Your car will not start at all, indicated a complete timing chain failure

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Ask a Mechanic
(100% Free)

Have a car question? Get free advice from our top-rated mechanics.

Ask A Mechanic
Over 10,000 questions answered!

More related articles

P2422 OBD-II Trouble Code: Evaporative Emissions Control System (EVAP) Vent Valve Stuck Closed
Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC): P2422 P2422 code definition Evaporative Emissions Control System (EVAP) Vent Valve Stuck Closed Related Trouble Codes: P2441: EVAP Vent Valve Stuck Open EVAP trouble...
P0291OBD-II Trouble Code: Cylinder 11 Injector Circuit Low
P0291 code definition When your vehicle’s PCM registers the P0291 code, it means that a voltage reading came from the fuel injector circuit – for cylinder number 11’s fuel injector –...
P0359 OBD-II Trouble Code: Ignition Coil I Primary/Secondary Circuit Malfunction
P0359 code definition The P0359 code indicates that a fault has been detected in one of the vehicle’s ignition coils, generally the number 9 coil. This code can also be associated...

Related questions

Q: How Does a Timing Chain Work?

A timing chain works very similar to the chain on a bicycle. The timing chain has links that engage with the teeth on the crankshaft sprocket and camshaft sprockets. The chain ensures that the crankshaft and camshafts are in constant...

Q: Car idling and running rough

Hello, the engine is equipped with an electronic valve called an idle air control valve. The idle air control valve lets a metered amount of air into the engine at idle to have a comfortable idle and ensure the engine...

Q: Battery indicator light coming on

The charging indicator light comes on when your vehicle is not charging or you have an ignition cylinder binding and not coming to the full run position. The ignition switch and key lock cylinder may be at fault. The rough...