Timing Belt Vs Timing Chain: Differences and Which is better

Your vehicle will feature either a timing belt or a timing chain to maintain the engine’s timings in order, allowing it to run safely and efficiently. But why is it either one or the other, and what’s the difference? First, we must understand what these two distinct systems do for our vehicles.

Timing Belt Vs Timing Chain

It’s easy; they both serve the same purpose: they synchronize the rotation of the crankshaft and camshaft(s), allowing the engine’s valves to open and close at the correct times. They both work in the same way, with the only difference being their shape and materials. Which is better, is the question.

Look no further, because this article covers everything you need to know about both of these engine timing systems. The following questions will be addressed, in order to better understand this topic:

  • What are the Timing Belt and Timing Chain?
  • Why do cars not have both?
  • What are the differences between the Timing Belt and the Timing Chain?
  • How long do timing belts and timing chains last?
  • Which is better, the Timing Belt or the Timing Chain?
  • What are their pros and cons?
  • How much do timing belts and timing chains cost on average?

Read: Difference between drive belt and timing belt

Well, let’s get to it!


What are the Timing Belt and Timing Chain?

The timing belt is an essential component of your vehicle’s engine, keeping many of the moving elements in perfect sync to create maximum efficiency and power. A faulty timing belt can result in catastrophic engine failure, so it’s critical to keep up with any necessary maintenance and get the belt replaced according to the service period specified in your vehicle’s owner’s handbook.

A timing chain is an internal engine component used to synchronize the rotation of the camshaft and crankshaft, both of which are required to drive the wheels. The chain’s movement allows engine cylinders to produce power to run and push the vehicle. The timing chain is a critical automobile component. Any vehicle that requires a timing chain will not be able to function without one.

Read: Symptoms Of a Bad or Loose Alternator Belt

Why do cars not have both?

A timing belt is generally selected when a quieter, more efficient engine is required. Because they are composed of rubber, they are also less expensive to produce, therefore automobile makers may choose to incorporate them into the vehicle. Because a quieter engine is more enticing to consumers, the timing belt is installed to produce a smoother sound.

Timing chains are preferred over timing belts due to their longer lifespan; they seldom break, but any problems that do emerge are easy to detect before they reach the point of no return. A worn chain, for example, may begin to rattle audibly, alerting you to the fact that something is amiss, whereas a timing belt can snap without warning.

What are the differences between the Timing Belt and the Timing Chain?

Timing Belt Vs Timing Chain

Due to the fact that belt and chain are two commonly used and known terms, we all should be aware of the particular differences between these two timing systems.

  • Timing belts are made of rubber and should be changed every 55,000-90,000 miles.
  • Timing chains are made of metal and can last for the life of the car.

Timing belts and timing chains are both important components of your car’s internal combustion engine. They govern the crankshaft and camshafts, which in turn ensure that the engine valves open and close at the precise times. Timing belts are constructed of a rubber composite, whereas timing chains are made of metal.

How long do timing belts and timing chains last?

Timing chains typically last longer than timing belts. The explanation for this is straightforward: chains are made of metal, whereas timing belts are composed of rubber, which is just not as durable. That isn’t to imply timing belts are bad, but they will need to be replaced at some point, whereas a chain can last as long as the vehicle itself.

Timing belts often need to be replaced between 55,000 miles (about 90,000km) and 90,000 miles (approximately 150,000km). As a result, a timing belt is still an extremely dependable and crucial component of your car.

Whether your car has a timing belt or a timing chain, it’s critical that you pay attention to and act on any signs of wear and tear. If your timing belt breaks, the results can be disastrous – the repairs can be so expensive that they are impractical, which in some cases means you are better off hunting for a new car!

Which is better, the Timing Belt or the Timing Chain?

The question of “Which is better?” is unanswerable. Both systems are constantly being developed. Vehicle manufacturers have been moving away from chains for some time now because the friction loss with chains is too considerable. There are numerous options. Customers used to choose between a chain and a belt before making a purchase.

The real worry, however, should not be with the timing system, but with the numerous tasks that we require an engine to execute. It is advised that we examine the engines of the vehicles we are interested in and look for any potential damage. Because both systems are equally spread globally, there is no “winner” between them.

Read: Symptoms Of a Bad Timing Belt

What are their pros and cons?

Here are the pros and cons of both timing belts and chains:

Timing Belt


  • Low noise
  • Minimal vibrations
  • Low upkeep and clean operation
  • Abrasion and corrosion resistance
  • Precise motion with precise timing
  • Ratio of constant velocity
  • There is no slipping.
  • Mechanical efficiency of up to 98%
  • Chemical and contaminant resistance
  • Energy-efficient
  • Cost-effective since no drive enclosures, lubrication, disposal costs, or tensioning devices are required.
  • Lower cost


  • Doesn’t last long as the timing chain
  • Ideal for transferring at a low power level.
  • When compared to other drive belts, the transfer power occurs over a shorter distance.

Timing Chain


  • Timing chain has great strength due to its material and design.
  • The timing chain can withstand the heat generated by the engine.
  • Timing chains have a longer life expectancy than timing belts.
  • The timing chain also works as a damper, dampening the vibration caused by the crankshaft.
  • It is suitable for high-power applications.
  • The timing chain is not slipping.


  • The chain must be kept lubricated at all times with engine oil.
  • Because the timing chain is fairly heavy, it increases fuel consumption, which reduces engine efficiency accordingly.
  • Oil maintenance is required on a regular basis.
  • If maintenance is neglected, it will wear out quickly and cause the chain to stretch. Stretching of the chain causes noise, harsh idle time of valves causes excessive emissions, and wear causes metallic debris to form in the oil.
  • If the timing chain fails, the crankshaft, cylinder head, and engine block will sustain additional damage.

How much do timing belts and timing chains cost on average?

To replace a broken timing belt, the engineer must remove several components, which increases the labor expenses of the work. A timing belt replacement typically costs roughly £300. A timing chain replacement typically costs between £500 and £1,300. You won’t have to replace your timing chain as frequently, if at all, but the cost of doing so is more than offset by the component’s extended lifespan.

The chain itself will cost roughly £180, with most of the money going towards manpower. Whether you have a timing belt or a timing chain in your vehicle, it is critical to keep both in good working order to keep your vehicle safe and roadworthy while avoiding any unnecessary expenses. You may reduce the chance of being caught out by being vigilant and proactive with regular vehicle servicing.

Read: Things you need to know about a drive belt


What is the advantage of a timing belt over a timing chain?

The manufacturer does not provide a replacement interval for the chains, although they frequently need to be replaced rather early since the weak chain has extended (occasionally between 60,000 and 80,000 km). The timing belt, on the other hand, has shown to be far more durable.

Is it cheaper to replace a timing belt or timing chain?

Replacing a timing belt or chain is an expensive repair because it necessitates the removal of several other engine components. So, depending on your mechanic’s labor rate, the following is what timing chain or timing belt repair might cost: Timing belt replacement costs about $900. Replacement timing chain: $1,600 or more.

Do timing chains need to be replaced like timing belts?

The timing chain should be replaced between 80,000 and 120,000 miles unless there is a specific defect. Chain problems are common in vehicles with rising mileage. If you have an older vehicle or one with a lot of miles on it, look for symptoms that the timing chain is failing.

What cars have timing chains instead of belts?

Here are cars that are likely to have timing chains instead of belts:

  • Most Mercedes.
  • Alfa Romeo 159.
  • Most BMWs.
  • All Cadillacs.
  • Chevrolet Corvette.
  • Honda Jazz.
  • Mazda with Skyactiv-G engine.
  • Dacia Duster, Sandero, Sandero Stepway.

What is the lifespan of a timing belt?

Each manufacturer is different, but it should be replaced every 60,000-100,000 miles. The suggested interval for your particular vehicle can be found in the owner’s manual. Because the timing belt is constructed of rubber, it will ultimately wear down and break.

Why don’t more cars use timing chains?

Timing belts were first used in automobiles because they are less expensive to make and run more quietly. Timing belts are typically equipped with rubber “teeth”: Most regular automobile users (not hotrod racers or performance car enthusiasts) prefer quieter vehicles. Timing belts are much smoother than timing chains.

How much does it cost to replace a timing chain?

The camshaft first stops moving, and all timing is lost. The pistons then collide with the valves, destroying both. Depending on how violently the pistons and valves collide, the cylinder walls may be devastated. The broken timing belt effectively destroys this section of the engine.


A short inspection of the engine will tell you whether it has a chain or a belt system. It runs a timing belt if it has plastic coverings on the front since the timing belt runs dry and does not require further protection. If it has a sealed metal cover (to keep engine oil from spilling), it is a chain system.

That is all for this article, where we’ve looked at timing belt vs. timing chain. That said, the following questions were answered so you can better understand the topic:

  • What are the Timing Belt and Timing Chain?
  • Why do cars not have both?
  • What are the differences between the Timing Belt and the Timing Chain?
  • How long do timing belts and timing chains last?
  • Which is better, the Timing Belt or the Timing Chain?
  • What are their pros and cons?
  • How much do timing belts and timing chains cost on average?

Hope it was helpful. If so, kindly share it with others. Thanks for reading; see you around!

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