A timing chain is a hard metal chain that will synchronize the rotation of the crankshaft and camshaft, allowing the intake and exhaust valves to open and close. The older car models have timing belts but over the years manufacturers switched to timing chains that are known to be low maintenance and last more than the usual rubber chain belt.
However, if you suspect that the timing chain does not function properly, you should replace it as soon as possible. A broken timing chain will cause serious engine damage.
How much does timing chain replacement cost?
The cost of replacing a timing chain is anywhere from $600 up to $800, depending on the make and model of your car. This cost is only for the parts, so expect to pay another $1,000 for the labor if you choose to hire a professional mechanic to replace the timing chain. Overall, the cost range can be somewhere from $1,600 up to $1,800 on average.
Below, you will find several makes and models of cars and their average costs for the timing chain replacement parts and labor:
|Make and Model||Timing Chain Cost||Repair Cost|
|Audi A4||$400 to $690||$700 to $920|
|BMW 3 Series||$170 to $250||$560 to $780|
|Chevy Equinox||$740 to $1,100||$560 to $720|
|Dodge Nitro||$300 to $1,300||$300 to $600|
|Dodge Ram 1500||$290 to $500||$540 to $780|
|Ford F150||$120 to $750||$1,000 to $2,500|
|Honda Civic||$100 to $250||$200 to $340|
|Mini Cooper||$360 to $750||$300 to $700|
|Toyota Camry||$130 to $200||$480 to $690|
|Toyota Corolla||$130 to $200||$100 to $800|
As listed above, the overall cost will greatly depend on the make and model of the car. Some cars, the Ford F1500 for example, will require more work when replacing the timing chain, and the costs can get even as high as $2,500 for labor alone. Toyota on the other hand seems to have more affordable car parts, and the timing chain costs between $100 and $200.
The hourly cost range for hiring a mechanic to replace the timing chain is between $15 and $210. However, the average cost that professional mechanics charge is around $60. This cost will be influenced by your geographical location, the make and model of your car, and the mechanic that you hire.
According to Angi.com, plan on spending between $700 to $1,100 for replacing the timing chain.
On the AutoGuru.com website, they state that the replacement of the timing chain will cost anywhere from $900 up to $1,500 and more, depending on your car model.
RepairSmith.com claims that usually, the cost for replacing the timing chain is anywhere from $1,000 to $2,500, labor and car parts included.
Another online source, MechanicBase.com, stated that you should typically expect to pay between $1,500 and $4,000 if you decide to replace the timing chain at a professional repair shop.
Symptoms of a faulty timing chain
When the timing chain begins to wear out, there will be specific symptoms to spot the issue, including:
- Engine misfiring – If the engine of the car misfires or you have poor acceleration, this may be caused by the timing chain’s wear. When that happens, a gear may be skipped by the chain, causing a malfunction of the engine.
- Metal shavings presence in the oil – Spotting metal shavings in the oil should point you to the wearing of the timing chain. Small pieces of metal can break and can reach into the engine.
- The car does not start
- Check engine light – For any malfunctioning of the timing chain, the check engine will appear on your car’s panel.
- Rattling noises – Often the timing chain can get loose from wearing out, which causes rattling noises under the hood.
Timing chain overview
The timing chain serves in the synchronization of the crankshaft and the camshaft. For proper engine combustion, the timing chain will coordinate the opening and closing of the intake and exhaust valves with the timing of the pistons.
Manufactured from hard metal, the timing chain is known to be much more durable and efficient than a chain belt. This means that the timing chain will need the be replaced much more rarely.
A faulty timing chain will cause the valves to desynchronize, causing a malfunctioning engine.
The timing chain is located inside the engine and is lubricated by the engine’s oil in order to function properly.
How to replace a timing chain
In order to decide if the timing chain needs to be replaced, the mechanic will degrease the engine properly to confirm that the chain is damaged. It is important that the cleaning is done after the engine cools down. Applying any kind of solution, even water, over a heated engine, can lead to broken parts.
The next step will be disconnecting the battery cables. It isnțt recommended to work on a car while the battery is plugged in.
The radiator will be disconnected, but first, the coolant will be drained by opening the drain cock located near the bottom of the radiator. Also, radiator hoses will be removed, loosening the radiator.
Drive belts, heater hoses, the water pump, the crankshaft pulley, and the timing chain will also be removed.
In order to remove the faulty timing chain, the tension gear must be loosened, usually with a wrench or a ratchet.
To install the new timing chain, the gears will need to be lubricated with a specific oil. These have some lining marks that need to be aligned with the marks on the timing chain. This process is mandatory for the proper functioning of the engine. Once the parts are aligned, the chain will be tightened according to the manufacturer’s chain guide.
After the timing chain is replaced, the crankshaft’s seal needs to be replaced. The old seal will be removed with a hammer. After that, the new seal will be coated with oil and installed onto the timing cover. Once these steps are done, the mechanic will put the timing cover in its initial place and tighten the bolts.
Then, they will reassemble the removed car parts in reverse order.
The final step, after all the parts are reinstalled including plugging in the battery, is to start the car to check whether the engine runs properly. If the timing chain functions correctly, the mechanic will take the car for a test drive to ensure that there arențt other issues to fix.
Tips to know
The recommended mileage for replacing a timing chain is between 60,000 and 100,000 miles. Usually, the mechanic will suggest changing the chain if it already run for that amount of miles, even if there are no signs of a faulty part. Read your owner’s manual for more accurate information. Depending on the make and model of the car, the mileage range may differ. Toyota, for instance, does not have a specific range of years or miles defined.
Before deciding to purchase a timing chain to replace the old one, check whether your car has one, as several vehicles may still run with timing belts made from rubber. During our research, we found an interesting article about which cars run with a timing chain. The article can be found on HonestJohn.co.uk.
Keep constant maintenance of your engine, and verify the oil level to ensure that you have proper lubrication of your engine’s parts. Low maintenance can damage the timing chain due to a lack of lubrication.
Also, if the timing chain already shows symptoms of damage, replace the chain as soon as possible. Running your car with a faulty timing chain can damage other engine parts which will increase the overall cost of the repair. For example, pistons, valves, and even water pumps can be damaged.
How to save money
Some car dealers may offer an insurance policy that may cover the entire replacement. For instance, Mini Cooper and Chevy Traverse owners may benefit from a deducted repair. Take into consideration talking to your dealer about this aspect.
A timing chain replacement kit for a DIY project may cost around $400. Also, if you choose to acquire only the part from your local auto parts store and do the work yourself, you will definitely save a large amount of money. But before taking this course of action, ensure that you have all the proper tools and research more about this process, because it may be tricky to replace.