What’s the most important chain in your life? If you ride in cars often, then it’s probably the timing chain. Let’s learn about what the timing chain is, why it’s so important, and how you can keep it in great shape.

Especially in nice cars like a Mini, keeping everything in working order is great for enjoying a nice ride. Given its small size, however, maintaining important parts is absolutely essential to stay safe on the road. Understanding the signs of a malfunctioning timing chain can save many lives on the road and is something that all drivers should know how to recognize.

What is a Timing Chain?

The main source of acceleration for most cars is the combustion of fuels in the engine. This is done by injecting a set amount of fuel into a cylinder along with an appropriate volume of oxygen and igniting the mixture to release the energy stored in the fuel. This combination causes the car to accelerate. It all seems really simple in theory, but the system requires much mechanical complexity, and it is all primarily controlled by the timing chain.

The timing chain serves to synchronize the timing of the opening and closing of the valves that allow for fuel injection, exhaust removal, and oxygen flow. It works in conjunction with the timing belt and timing chain tensioner, which serve to help it carry out its function. This system is remarkably comparable to the conveyor belt system used in airports where the luggage would not be delivered to the baggage claim area if there is a problem with the conveyor belt.

Symptoms of a Faulty Timing Chain

Given the important relationship of the timing chain with the engine, any problem with the timing change causes many problems. Perhaps most profound of these is the reduction in vehicle efficiency.

When the timing chain system malfunctions, the engine cannot burn fuel optimally, so there is a waste of fuel and the engine output is reduced. In serious cases, one or more engine cylinders can misfire, causing the entire car the stall and shut down while in the middle of the road. This can be very dangerous and should be avoided at all costs.

On a less urgent yet likewise important point, the faulty timing chain and resulting desynchronization of fuel and exhaust exchange can lead to sputtering that can damage other parts of the vehicle. For example, an excess of unburned fuel can quickly contaminate the catalytic converter and render it useless. Also, the shaking of the engine parts combined with the splashing of hot fuel can cause the engine parts to come loose and corrode, leading to leaks.

Finally, since the timing chain is literally a chain that makes revolutions in order to perform its function, a faulty timing chain can be detected by a screeching sound coming from the engine. Also, because this noise is dependent on the movement of the chain, increasing the revolutions per minute of the engine and observing a parallel increase in the frequency (the noise sounds higher in musical pitch) indicates that the problem is indeed a faulty timing chain and not something else.

Fixing a Broken Timing Chain

Clearly, a bad timing chain is something that should be replaced as soon as possible. Continuing to drive on a malfunctioning timing chain is not only inherently dangerous due to the weakened engine output, but it is also a ticking time bomb slowly breaking other parts down until it all comes apart.

Unfortunately, given the complexity of the system and the reliance of the timing chain on other parts, the safest solution is to replace it. On the bright side, mechanics and part suppliers have been working on this issue for decades, so professional replacements are relatively affordable and readily available.


The Answer to a Bad Timing Chain

If you have a bad timing chain, it’s time to get it replaced. Since timing chain systems are not easy to replace by owners, it is recommended to have it replaced professionally by a garage. For great and smooth service, come to Dell’s Service Center. Convenient to Green Bay, Manitowoc, and Sturgeon Bay, at Dell’s Service Center a brand new timing chain is only a few steps away!

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