Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Timing Cover

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When your vehicle stops running all of the sudden, it is commonly due to a broken timing belt or timing chain. Different engine combinations utilize either a belt or chain that is connected to the cam and crankshaft and is responsible for the internal operation of a combustion engine. They are both protected from exposure by a timing cover which can be opened and accessed by a mechanic to repair damage to these components or make adjustments as needed.

The timing chain cover is responsible for keeping dirt and debris from entering the inside of the engine. Due to the fact that the timing chain and belt are housed inside the engine, the timing cover even helps to keep the timing belt or timing chain solid and secure for smooth operation. The timing cover is constructed of plastic or metal and works in conjunction with the timing cover gasket to keep oil from leaking onto the ground.

Although the timing cover is not a moving part, from time to time damage may be done to the cover or the gasket inside that will require service or replacement by an ASE certified mechanic. When the parts wear out, they tend to display certain warning signs or symptoms. Noted below are a few of the common warning indicators that a problem with the timing cover exists.

1. Oil is leaking in the center of the vehicle

The timing cover has a gasket that allows the cover to be securely attached to the engine block. Over time and due to exposure to heat, dirt, road grime, and more, the gasket can often become cracked or wear out. This will reduce the tightness of the timing cover and may result in oil escaping the engine and leaking onto the ground. A broken gasket is not the only reason why oil might be leaking from the timing cover. In some cases the timing cover may be cracked, especially if it is manufactured out of plastic. If you notice that oil is leaking from the center of the motor, near the front, it may be due to a faulty timing cover or timing cover gasket.

2. Engine runs rough

Another common signal that a problem with the timing cover exists is if the motor runs rough. When a timing cover becomes damaged and does not properly seal with the engine block, dirt and debris can enter the engine; especially in critical areas like the crankshaft or camshaft. When this happens, the engine may run rough. If the problem is not fixed soon, it may result in complete engine failure. If you notice that the engine is running rough or sounds like it is misfiring, please contact a mechanic as soon as possible to determine the cause of this symptom and if needed, replace the timing cover.

2. Knocking sound coming from the engine

When the timing cover is loose, it may cause a knocking sound to appear from near the front of the motor. If you hear this type of sound, drive the vehicle home as soon as possible. Once you arrive home, open the hood and look right behind the radiator fan. If you see a flat, metal plate that appears to be shaking, this is most likely the timing cover that is loose. The sound is due to clanking against the engine block. If this is happening, do not start the engine again. Contact a local ASE certified mechanic so they can inspect the problem and replace the timing cover if needed.

4. Check Engine Light comes on

The timing cover is designed to seal the engine and keep oil or pressure from escaping. If a pressure or vacuum situation occurs, sensors in the motor will trigger the Check Engine Light to illuminate on the dashboard. Anytime this light appears, it's advised to take it seriously, as it could signify a major problem within the engine. When the timing cover is loose – this is a major problem.

Under normal driving situations, the timing cover should never cause a problem. Typically when an engine approaches 100,000 miles of service, the timing cover gasket may begin to wear out, causing oil to drip from the engine. Since the timing cover is also near the serpentine belt, it may cause the oil to splatter and run under the entire engine. If you notice any of the above warning signs, contact a certified mechanic from YourMechanic as soon as possible.


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David

23 years of experience
172 reviews
David
23 years of experience
Audi TT - Oil/Fluid Leak - Lady Lake, Florida
David showed up on time he quickly assess the situation and did the appropriate actions. Unfortunately he was given the wrong light bulb so he had to go get different parts but he was very gracious about that
Dodge Dakota - Oil/Fluid Leak - Ocala, Florida
David was great, right on time, found the problems in a timely manner, and Gave me a a great deal of confidence, thanks much!!

Robert

5 years of experience
19 reviews
Robert
5 years of experience
Chrysler 300M - Oil/Fluid Leak - Torrance, California
Robert was here on time, checked out the car. Located the problem. Gave his recommendations. And we will be requesting Robert to do the repairs. Good job Dude. Thanks again.
Saturn Ion - Oil/Fluid Leak - Pasadena, California
Robert was awesome and helpful. Pointed out what the issues were and explained how the suggested repairs would fix it.

Corey

21 years of experience
5 reviews
Corey
21 years of experience
GMC Yukon - Oil/Fluid Leak - Phoenix, Arizona
Corey is the best! Super knowledgeable and very friendly. He explains the problem in-depth and make sure it is resolved. Would highly recommend Corey to anyone and everyone!
GMC Yukon - Oil/Fluid Leak - Phoenix, Arizona
Corey was fantastic! Fixed the problem and was very helpful in explaining what was going on and giving advice for the future. I would highly recommend him!

Michael

46 years of experience
124 reviews
Michael
46 years of experience
Honda CR-V - Oil/Fluid Leak - Millington, Tennessee
Michael is an excellent mechanic. He is knowledgeable, professional and was very detailed in his inspection and diagnosis of my car issue. He went above and beyond - Friendly and honest. I have confidence in his work and will have him work on future car repairs as needed. Thanks!

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