Timing Chain life, Cost and Replacement

Timing Chain like timing belts are used to synchronize the engine piston and inlet outlet valves. Like all other mechanical components these chains also get subjected to wear. 

Due to this these timing chains needed to be replaced once their useful life ends. This article is all about the timing chain life, cost, and replacement.

To have general understanding of timing chain read out article on What is a timing chain? and to about about the timing chain kit or bad timing chain symptom read our article on What is Timing Chain Kit and Bad Timing Chain Symptoms

Life of Timing Chain

The timing chains are made of metals and can be used for a very long time. Different types of timing chains can have different life spans. Life of a timing chain in an engine usually depends upon the mileage of a vehicle. 

The normal replacement of a timing chain is done after a mileage of 80,000-120,000 Miles. But there are other important factors that can play a vital role in increasing or decreasing the life of a timing chain. 

  • The working life of different types of timing chains whether single or double roller chain or bush chain or toothed chains will be different. Double roller chains as compared to single roller chains have a longer working life.
  • The type of material and quality of the chain also play a vital role in increasing or decreasing the life of a timing chain.
  • Engine’s working temperature may also affect the life of a timing chain.
  • If the timing chain is getting properly lubricated, its life will surely be extended. Proper lubrication refers to the replacement of engine oil on regular basis.
  • The choice of proper engine oil and its pressure is also imperative in increasing or decreasing the life of a timing chain. Using the wrong engine oil will cause the timing chain to wear quickly. 

Timing Chain’s Cost

Different type of timing chains came in different price ranges. Its price also changes with the change in the type of vehicle and the quality of timing chain. 

The price of a simple timing chain of a bike or bicycle may vary between US$2 to US$8. 

Whereas the timing chain of car may cost you between US$300 to US$1000 and price may go up with the increasing size of the engine.

Timing Chain Replacement Cost

Timing chain replacement is not an expensive maintenance task. If a problem related to the timing chain has been diagnosed in the engine, the repair is not going to be cheaper. 

The cost of timing chain replacement can vary from US$500 to US$1200 if you are managing the repair yourself. 

On the other hand, the repair can take around US$1,500 to US$4,000 if you visit a professional mechanic. 

Although, the cost of timing chain replacement can vary from case to case but there are several factors that are to be kept in mind that affects the cost of replacement before you go to replace the timing chain of the engine.

  • Price of timing chain vary with the quality of timing chain and the model of the vehicle. 
  • For some brands, the price of timing chain is lower than the other brands. 

  • The quality of the chain must be extremely good as any compromise on it will be equivalent to the compromise on the performance of the engine.
  • The labor rate is another important factor that should not go unnoticed. 
  • The labor cost for the replacement of the timing chain is going to be comparatively higher as the replacement of the timing chain requires the removal of many engine parts and sometimes engine is taken out of the vehicle for the replacement of timing chain. 
  • Usually, the labor cost in suburban areas is lesser than in the areas that are close to the downtown.

  • In some of the cases, only the timing chain might be replaced. 
  • But, in most of the cases it will not only be the timing chain that would be replaced but other related parts should also be expected to be replaced during the repairing process such sprockets, sprocket bearings, and tensioners etc. 

  • Furthermore, it is also recommended to replace the whole timing chain system when repairing or replacing timing chain to avoid any misalignment or error in the meshing of chains and sprockets.

Timing Chain Replacement Procedure

The replacement of the timing chain is a cumbersome process therefore it is strongly recommended to visit a professional mechanic to get it replaced. 

The replacement of timing chain in an engine might change with the change in engine’s model but below is the generic DIY step by step procedure of replacing a faulty or malfunctioning timing chain.

  • First of all make sure that your engine is equipped with a timing chain and not timing belt. 
  • To make it sure, you can refer to an experienced mechanic or user manual of your vehicle. 
  • It is suggested to keep the user manual with you during the replacement process.
  • During the process of timing chain replacement, many of the engine parts will be disassembled. 
  • In few cases, you may actually need to take out the engine as a whole. 
  • For this, referring to the user manual of the vehicle is extremely necessary to see the specific procedures for the vehicle.
  • Before starting the replacement process, make sure that the engine is cold and use a degreaser to clean the engine to increase your visibility for any leakage or wear and tear of other components.
  • One must refer to the user manual of the vehicle to know the firing order of the engine because the first cylinder in the firing order will need to be checked in a later stage during the process.
  • The next step is to disconnect the radiator. To do this, drain the radiator and take the coolant out of it. Afterwards, disconnect the hoses that are connecting radiator and engine. 
  • In some engines, it might also be required to drain engine oil and power steering fluid as well.
  • Refer to the user manual of the vehicle to remove the belt drives. For serpentine belt, use spring loaded tensioner to remove it.  
  • To take out the timing chain, you will need to uncover the engine block. Locate the camshaft and crankshaft using the user manual of the vehicle. 
  • Afterwards, install the new timing chain and lubricate the gears before doing so to optimize the timing chain performance. 
  • Also replace the crankshaft seal and make sure to compress it appropriately before covering the engine block.
  • The last step in the process now is to reconnect the belt drives and cooling system of the engine. 
  • Start the engine to observe if there is any leakage. If not, then your engine is ready to drive again.