What are the Symptoms of a Bad Timing Chain?

What is a timing chain?

A timing chain, or in some motors a timing belt, is responsible for coordinating the opening and closing of valves within the internal combustion engine. This coordination is achieved by synchronizing the camshaft and crankshaft to open and close the valves while simultaneously preventing the pistons from hitting these valves.

The timing chain consists of multiple links that run smoothly over gears, but with such a dynamic role in the motor, the timing chain is susceptible to wear and tear and may cause problems. Luckily, there are a few tell-tale symptoms to look out for.

What are the symptoms of a bad timing chain?

  • The engine misfires. Once a timing chain is stretched and has lost its integrity, the chain may skip a gear and lose the necessary coordination leading to an engine misfire. Repeated misfires could indicate a timing chain issue and should be investigated.

  • There is a rattling sound. A lax timing chain, or worse, a broken timing chain with loose parts within the engine, will produce a rattling sound when your car is idling. This rattling sound is typically most prominent while the engine heats up and disappears after some time. Above and beyond the noise, loose parts within the combustion system can cause significant damage to the engine therefore any rattling sound is concerning and it is best to have it investigated.

  • Check your car's oil for metal shavings. As a timing chain wears out, it disintegrates and some of the metal shavings may land in the oil pan of your car. When the oil and oil filter are changed, these small metal pieces are observed and indicate a problem with your car's motor. A mechanic should investigate the source of the metal shavings as it may well be the timing chain.

What do I do if I suspect a timing chain problem?

If you suspect that your car's timing chain needs replacement, it is best to investigate promptly. A broken timing chain is an inconvenience and may incur further costs if your motor sustains damage as a result. If you need a timing chain repair, give our auto repair shop a call today!