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 synchronization with each other. Cams control the operation of the intake and exhaust valves. These valves must be opened and closed at the proper time so they don't make contact with the pistons which are operated by the crankshaft.
Timing chains don't usually break but they can stretch (by quite a lot), especially if it's a segmented link chain. A chain tensioner keeps the slack out of the timing chain.
Timing chains don't require very much in the way of service, except to replace them. The biggest reason to replace the timing chains is due to a failure somewhere in the engine.
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