Timing Chain Tensioner Replacement: When It Is Required?

Don’t we all know that the timing chain tensioner in a car belt needs to be replaced at regular intervals? However, many people still wonder what the difference between a timing chain and a belt is.

So, you should know that a timing belt comprises high-quality rubber, covered by a protective cover, that runs outside the engine. On the other hand, a silver timing chain runs inside the vehicle engine and requires frequent lubrication.  

While a timing belt is customarily replaced after 40,000 to 100,000 miles, depending on the vehicle’s usage, a timing chain does not need a replacement unless there is a problem with it. This article will enlighten you with the exact replacement credentials for a timing chain! 

Timing Chain Tensioner

Timing Chain Tensioner Replacement


The timing chain tensioner is an essential component of a vehicle’s engine as it synchronizes the crankshaft and camshaft’s rotation in the engine’s higher and lower portions. Resultantly, this permits the engine’s outflow and inlet valves to open and close at highly-specific predetermined intervals.  

While serving as a link between the bottom and upper parts of the engine, a timing chain produces a much louder noise than a timing belt and resembles a bicycle chain. Nevertheless, proper synchronization between the cylinder strokes and valve timing is critical for optimal power and idle engine performance. 

Timing Chain Tensioner Replacement 

Unless there is a severe fault, the timing chain should be replaced between 40,000 and 100,000 miles, as mentioned previously. In automobiles with increasing mileage, chain issues have become quite common. 

So, if you are driving a used car, it would be best to keep an eye out for the timing chain’s failing signs. As the timing chain may break or require a fix anytime, one should be able to spot the warning signs and get it replaced accordingly before it fails completely.  

Warning Signs for a Timing Chain Tensioner Replacement  

Timing Chain Tensioner Replacement


Unlike timing belts, which need to be substituted at regular intervals, timing belts do not necessarily require frequent fixes. There is no reason to alter the timing chain unless it is strained, damaged, or somewhat affected.  

Some timing chain issues may also lead to additional complications for the vehicle if not fixed timely or appropriately. You must consider a timing chain replacement once you observe any of the below-mentioned warning signs.  

  • Having trouble starting the vehicle. 
  • Observing constant noise in the timing chain. 
  • Finding the engine light to be illuminative. 
  • Witnessing engine misfires or sluggishness. 
  • Sudden vibration or shaking of the engine, even if it is at rest. 
  • Experiencing failure in starting the engine. 

Observing Rattling Noise During Rest and Motion Phase  

Sometimes, a cluttering or rattling noise being produced by the engine may seem frustrating. This noise can increase with the engine speed and become more audible with the hood open.  

A faulty timing chain tensioner can hop around on the camshaft and crank gears and thus generate a rattling or knocking sound from the front side of the engine. This way, it may also hit the timing chain cover.  

A broken timing chain causes the valves to come closer with the pistons, thus leading to severe failures in most engine models. At the same time, severe knocking or banging noises may cause catastrophic engine failure or extreme damage to the pistons and valves.  

Guide for a Broken Plastic and Mental Shaving 

Small metal parts can significantly damage and break the timing chain of an automobile. This means that the observance of tiny metal pieces inside the oil pain or filter may signify a timing chain tensioner’s failure.  

At the same time, metal shavings in the oil may also be due to several other reasons. So, if you notice metal shaving inside your vehicle’s oil, a wise approach would be to contact your service provider for a thorough examination or a suitable repair.  

The Bottom Line 

No doubt, the timing chain tensioner is a crucial component of every vehicle’s engine, and your car would not be able to operate without it. If your timing chain undergoes a breakdown while driving, the vehicle’s engine is likely to suffer catastrophic damage. 

However, if you observe any of the danger signals mentioned above, it would be best to get your timing chain serviced by a skilled mechanic. This way, you may significantly reduce your vehicle’s maintenance cost and extend your engine’s health by being proactive and aware. 

At the same time, you should regulate your engine correctly and get the engine oil changed at regular intervals to avoid timing chain issues. Moreover, using superior quality engine oils and filters and ensuring proper lubrication of the timing chain at all times might also be a constructive approach.

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