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What Will Happen If My Timing Chain Breaks?

by Christopher John

Timing chains perform a vital role in keeping a vehicle engine working properly. The results of a timing chain breaking depend on what type of engine your vehicle has.

Effects On Engine Types

A timing chain will be on either what is called an "interference engine" or a "noninterference engine." A broken timing chain in a noninterference engine will not cause engine damage, but the vehicle will still immediately shut off and not run. A timing chain break in an interference engine will cause the vehicle to shut off and also damage the pistons and valves, leading to expensive engine repairs.

Timing Chain Function

The timing chain works to turn the engine camshaft at a speed that is half that of the crankshaft. The camshaft opens and closes the intake and exhaust valves in synchronization with the pistons that move up and down.

Prevention/Solution

Treat changing your timing chain just as you would other vehicle routine maintenance tasks. Refer to your vehicle owner's manual to learn the specific intervals at which you should change the timing chain, which is often around every 60,000 miles.

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