How Long Does a Timing Chain Last?

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


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152,077
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Pete

16 years of experience
192 reviews
Pete
16 years of experience
Chevrolet Malibu L4-2.2L - Timing Chain Replacement - San Diego, California
Pete called ahead of time letting us know upfront that there might be more damage and that he couldn't guarantee that this would fix my problem but I opted to try anyways. He showed up right on time and finished the job an hour early. And he did a great job. My car is by no means in perfect condition (my fault, not his) but at least he got it up and running for me and that's all I can ask for at the moment. I would definitely use YourMechanic and Pete again.
Mini Cooper - Strut Assembly Replacement (Front) - San Diego, California
Good guy, great mechanic

Brandon

20 years of experience
773 reviews
Brandon
20 years of experience
Honda Accord L4-2.4L - Oil Change - Sanford, Florida
Brenda was very professional and courteous with our appointment. I would recommend Brandon to anyone.
Chrysler Town & Country - Brake Rotor/Disc Replacement (Front, Rear) - Gotha, Florida
Brandon was a very good communicator. He was able to diagnose my car’s primary problem right away. He worked efficiently and even allowed my 4 year old to “work” on his toy trucks alongside him. Super nice guy!

Rodric

14 years of experience
411 reviews
Rodric
14 years of experience
BMW 318i L4-1.9L - Coolant is leaking - Riverdale, Georgia
Rodric was very professional. He arrived early for scheduled appointment and took his time in assessing my car issues.
Toyota Prius - Battery - Forest Park, Georgia
I’ll be shooting you a text soon

Jared

21 years of experience
35 reviews
Jared
21 years of experience
Acura TSX L4-2.4L - Timing Chain - Aurora, Colorado
Jared arrived early for the initial consultation as well as to do the repair. He was friendly and knowledgeable. He took his time to get the repair right. He made a stressful situation more manageable. Would recommend to another in need of mechanical services.

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