Timing Chain vs. Timing Belt

Timing Chain VS Timing Belt - Germain Honda of Surprise

It’s possible that you’ve heard the terms “timing chain” and “timing belt” in connection to automotive engines. Beyond the obvious, that one is a chain and one is a belt, you might have wondered what these components are, and what differentiates them. These are very important components, and your engine won’t run without them, so Germain Honda of Surprise has put together a helpful guide to help you better understand these critical parts.

Timing Belt vs Timing Chain

Timing Chain

Timing Chains

A timing chain functions and even looks a lot like a bike chain, it’s driven off of one gear in order to turn another. The upside of a timing chain is that it’s extremely durable, and many manufacturers say they never need replacing. Timing chains are held in place by tensioners, which rely on engine oil pressure to maintain their position. The downside of this is that if engine oil levels drop too low, it can lead to catastrophic engine failure. Although this is only one way that low engine oil can lead to damage.

Timing Belt

Timing Belts

The setup used in most Honda models, the timing belt was introduced in the mid-1960s as a much quieter alternative to a timing chain. Belts also use tension pulleys that aren’t dependent on engine oil levels to stay in place. The downside is that they don’t last forever, although they’re very strong, and only need changing between 60,000 and 100,000 miles. Timing belts and engine water pumps tend to wear out at roughly the same time, so changing both at the same time is advisable, and it saves you from taking so much of the engine apart twice in such a short period.

What Happens If I Don’t Change My Timing Belt or Chain?

Performing regular engine maintenance should mean that you will never have to worry about a timing chain or belt failure. But ignoring this maintenance could lead to major engine damage.

Timing belts in particular can wear out and eventually break. This usually happens when starting or switching off the engine, as this is when the most strain is placed on the belt. Bent valves are a common result, but you could also have broken valve guides, or damaged pistons and/or connecting rods. Any of these would require major engine repairs, or even a total engine replacement. This is especially true of the rare cases where the belt breaks at high rpm.

A timing chain is less likely to just snap, but the chances of it breaking or slipping off increase dramatically if engine oil levels aren’t properly monitored and maintained.

Timing Chain

Proper Timing Belt and Timing Chain Maintenance

Fortunately, staying ahead of any potential problems with your timing belt or chain is really pretty easy. Following the scheduled maintenance plan for your Honda vehicle involves everything you need to make sure that proper precautions have been taken. Information about this can be found in your owner’s manual, but if you can’t find it or need any clarification at all, the helpful and friendly team at Germain Honda of Surprise is here to help answer your questions and make sure that you get the service your Honda needs.