Timing Chain vs. Timing Belt

Difference between Timing Chain and Timing Belt

Timing chain and timing belt both are part of an automobile engine. Used to synchronize the valve timing of an engine, the timing belt or chain shifts the power of crankshaft to the cam shaft which as a result pushes the valves to provide air and fuel to engine cylinders. Both timing chains and belts are same when it comes to function.  Timing chains were more popular in the 70’s and 80’s. After this period, rubber timing belts became popular with the manufacturers. Nowadays, manufacturers are again back to using timing chains. Let’s figure out the differences and their features in this article.

The real difference between a timing chain and a belt is the -material. A chain is heavier, noisier and stronger. It is made of metal pieces interlinked together. It lasts long. However, a timing belt is serviceable and cheaper. It needs to be replaced as soon as it starts showing wear and tear. It depends on the manufacturers’ discretion to provide you with either a timing chain or belt. Timing belt rarely makes noise but a chain’s sound can be heard when the car is in function.

Timing chains are long lasting and designed to stretch and not break. Belts are not long lasting. Thus, arise the question- why then the manufacturers go with belts?  The answer is when chain gets stretched with usage over the time; it results in poor performance of an engine.  Timing belts are replaced periodically and thus doesn’t affect the function much.

Both timing chains and timing belts are in the same area of an engine and are visible when you open the hood of an engine. Belts are covered with a plastic sheet whereas chains with metal casing because they requires lubrication now and then.

You need to replace belt whenever it is necessary otherwise it could break down. A timing chain needs to adjust or servicing when it starts making unusual noise.