4 Symptoms of a Faulty Timing Cover

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, over time, heat, chemicals, and movement in the gasket inside that will require replacement by a mechanic. When the timing cover gasket wears out, it tends to display certain warning signs or symptoms. Noted below are a few of the common warning indicators that a problem exists and you may need to replace the timing cover.

1. One Side of the Engine is Leaking Oil

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, or a bolt in the cover may be loose or broken. If you notice that oil is leaking from the side of the motor, near the front, it may be due to a faulty timing cover or timing cover gasket.

2. Motor Running Rough

Another common signal that a problem with the timing cover exists is if the engine 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.

3. Engine Making Knocking Sounds

When the timing cover is loose, it may cause a knocking sound to come from the engine. 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 mechanic so they can inspect the problem and replace the timing cover if needed.

4. Illuminated Check Engine Light

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.

How Serious is a Bad Timing Cover?

A failing timing cover can have significant consequences for your vehicle. If left unchecked, oil leaks from a deteriorating timing cover gasket can lead to a lack of oil in critical engine components, resulting in accelerated wear and potential engine damage. This can manifest as reduced engine performance, increased fuel consumption, or even engine overheating.

A bad timing cover can affect the timing chain or belt, leading to misalignment or failure of these crucial components. Driving with a faulty timing cover is not advisable, as it can result in sudden engine failure or loss of control while on the road, posing safety risks to both the driver and other road users. It's essential to address timing cover issues promptly to avoid costly repairs and ensure the continued reliability and safety of your vehicle.

Timing Cover Repair Information

When addressing issues related to a faulty timing cover, repair options can vary based on the extent of the damage and the specific components affected. Repairing a timing cover often involves disassembling certain engine components to access the cover, which can be a labor-intensive process.

The cost and time involved in this repair can depend on factors such as the vehicle make and model, the accessibility of the timing cover, and the overall condition of the engine. A typical timing cover replacement can cost anywhere between $1000-$2000, depending on where you live and what vehicle you drive.

In some cases, repairing a damaged timing cover may be straightforward and primarily involve replacing the cover itself. However, if the damage extends to internal engine components or if there are associated leaks due to a damaged gasket, the repair may require more extensive work and replacement of additional parts. It's essential to consult with a mechanic to assess the specific repair needs and associated costs before proceeding with any repairs.

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 YourMechanic as soon as possible for a mobile mechanic to come perform an inspection and timing cover replacement.

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14 years of experience
691 reviews
14 years of experience
Ford Focus L4-2.0L - Timing Cover - Saint Paul, Minnesota
Easy to work with! Texted and called to keep me updated (method based on if I was working or not). Super knowledgeable, let me know parts were not in and was able to reschedule quickly!
Smart Fortwo - Battery - Saint Paul, Minnesota
Travis did a great job diagnosing and fixing the problem.


13 years of experience
638 reviews
13 years of experience
Ford F-150 V8-4.6L - Timing Cover - Greenwood, Indiana
Very pleasant and knowledgeable. Hard worker that is thorough. Not many out there like him!
Audi Q5 - Timing Cover - Noblesville, Indiana
Bryant was very professional and he expertly performed the task at hand. I recommend Brian for any vehicle service!


34 years of experience
1438 reviews
34 years of experience
Chevrolet Impala V6-3.4L - Timing Cover - Newport News, Virginia
Matt is a great mechanic. High quality work, on time and the company has great pricing !! Matt is my mechanic as long as I have cars !!! Thanjks Matt


19 years of experience
64 reviews
19 years of experience
Jeep Liberty V6-3.7L - Timing Cover - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Daniel did a great job and kept in touch with me in the days prior to him coming to make sure I had all the right parts. I am going to recommend him to everyone I know. Thank you What a great asset he is to your company.

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