How to Check and Replace a Timing Chain in Vehicles

by Contributing Writer; Updated June 12, 2017

Like timing belts, timing chains drive a Vehicles camshaft. Stronger than their counterparts, timing chains are nearly repair-free with no definitive replacement schedule. If your Vehicles produces a vociferous rattle whenever you accelerate, chances are it's time to check and replace your timing chain. Consider changing your water pump Vehicles the same time since you have to disconnect it anyway.

Under The Hood:

 How to Check and Replace a Timing Chain in a Ford Taurus

Remove Your Timing Chain

Check your owner's manual for the recommended mileage for replacing your timing chain. Replacement for a Ford Taurus is 100,000 miles.

Locate the timing chain. Replace it if the automatic chain adjuster (also known as the tensioner) is damaged or worn.

Take off the engine front cover and the crankshaft position sensor pulse ring

Position the crankshaft so the No. 1 piston is at "Top Dead Center" (TDC). The crankshaft key-way groove and the oil pump mark should line up.

Confirm that the camshaft sprockets line up on top. You may need to turn the crankshaft one full revolution and check again.

Disengage the timing chain guides, tensioner arm and tensioner retaining bolts and take the timing chain off the engine.

Discharge the tensioner ratchet/pawl mechanism via the tensioner's access opening. Place a small wire inside the piston's top to unseat the oil check ball. This compacts the tensioner rack and piston into the tensioner housing. Condense the tensioner manually.

Eliminate the camshaft timing chain sprockets if they are worn or damaged.

Install Your Timing Chain

Turn the crankshaft so the No. 1 piston is at TDC. The crankshaft key-way groove and the oil pump mark should line up.

Line up the sprocket and chain timing marks and install the timing chain. The crankshaft, camshaft and balance shaft also should line up.

Reconnect the camshaft sprockets (if replacing). Secure the sprocket bolts at 48 to 70 foot pounds (64 to 95 Nm).

Put in the compressed timing chain guides, tensioner arm and tensioner. Secure the tensioner's pivot bolt at 25 to 39 foot pounds (34-53 Nm) and secure the retaining bolts at 14 to 20 foot pounds (18-27 Nm).

Align the timing chain's timing index marks and the crankshaft and camshaft sprocket and balance shaft driven gear index marks.

Connect the crankshaft position sensor pulse ring to the crankshaft. Line up the crankshaft key and the sensor ring's key-way.

Replace the engine front cover.

Items you will need

  • New timing chain

  • Camshaft timing chain sprockets (optional)

  • Basic automotive tools

 How to Check and Replace a Timing Chain in a Pontiac Bonneville

Remove the Primary and Secondary Camshaft Drive Chains

Access the timing chain by first taking off the following camshaft parts: The intermediate drive shaft sprocket bolt, the primary camshaft drive chain tensioner bolts, the drive chain tensioner and guide bolts, the drive chain guide and finally, the drive shaft sprocket, the primary drive chain and the crankshaft sprocket.

Start on the left side of the camshaft, and take out the left secondary tensioner bolts, and the chain tensioner, aiding it to swell as it is removed. Take the chain guide bolt and the sprocket bolts off the camshaft. Use a wrench at the front of the camshaft, preventing rotation of the engine while the sprocket bolts are being loosened.

Raise the secondary drive chain out of the camshaft sprocket teeth and ease the sprockets away from the camshafts. Take off the left secondary drive chain, the drive chain shoe bolt and shoe, the lower left chain guide bolt and drive chain guide.

Move to the right side of the camshaft and remove the position sensor bolt and sensor in order to take off and throw away the sensor O-ring. Pull off the guide access plugs which are located on the cylinder heads and make sure there is an O-ring seal on the access plugs. Repeat Steps 1 through 4 to remove the primary drive camshaft drive chain.

Install the Secondary Camshaft Drive Chain

Install the secondary camshaft drive chain by putting in the secondary camshaft drive chain guide, and installing the drive chain shoe. Put on the drive chain by easing the chain through the right cylinder head and putting the chain on the end of the camshafts, then meandering the drive chain around the outer row of sprocket teeth.

Put on the exhaust camshaft sprockets into the drive chain and install the exhaust camshafts over the camshafts. Utilize a wrench to line up the sprocket notch to the camshaft pint, and make sure the right intake and exhaust camshaft sprocket notches and camshaft pints line up with the cylinder head.

Use tool J 44212 to put on the right cylinder head camshaft and the upper right drive chain guide bolt, tightening the bolts. Take down the right secondary drive chain tensioner with a ratchet as well as the drive chain tensioner shoe and insert a pin into the release lever hole so the right secondary camshaft drive chain tensioner shoe is collapsed with the release lever facing out.

Install the tensioner bolts, make sure the primary and secondary timing components line up, and install the guide chain access plugs, making sure the O-ring seal is on the access plugs and that the access plugs are tightened. Install a new O-ring lubricated with engine oil, put on the position sensor, and tighten the sensor bolt.

Repeat Steps 1 through 3 to install the secondary camshaft drive chain on the left side.

Install the Primary Camshaft Drive Chain

Put the primary camshaft drive chain on the intermediate camshaft sprocket and the intermediate drive shaft sprocket. Line up the timing marks vertically on the drive shaft and crankshaft sprocket and make sure the number one piston is at the top and center.

Use the tool J 39946 to make sure the pin of the crankshaft is at the one o'clock position before installing the primary camshaft drive chain. Assemble the camshaft intermediate drive chain sprocket and the crankshaft sprocket onto the camshaft intermediate drive shaft and crankshaft.

Collapse the primary camshaft drive chain tensioner and vertically line up the timing marks. Place a small dab of sealant GM P/N 123456739 or equivalent at the split line of the lower and upper crankshafts and put the front cover in position on the crankcase.

Items you will need

  • Wrench

  • Ratchet

  • Tool J 44212

  • O-ring

  • Engine oil

  • Tool J 39946

  • GM P/N 123456739 sealant

 How to Check and Replace a Timing Chain in a Toyota Corolla

Check Your Timing Chain

Check your owner's manual for the recommended mileage for replacing your timing chain. Replacement recommendation for a Toyota Corolla is 60,000 miles.

Locate the timing chain.

Replace it there is damage to the automatic chain adjuster (also known as the tensioner.)

Remove the Timing Chain

Deplete the cooling system.

Disengage the negative battery cable, right engine cover and mount, accessory drive belt, generator and tensioner, power steering pump (sans the hoses) and the cylinder head cover.

Remove the crankshaft pulley, angle sensor plate and the position sensor from the timing chain cover. Take out the cover, tensioner slipper, vibration damper and the timing and crankshaft timing sprockets.

Undo the chain tensioner, water pump and the valve timing control assembly and camshaft timing sprocket.

Force the seal from its cover. Extend the timing chain to its maximum length and measure the span of any 16 successive links, not to surpass 4.827 inches (122.6mm).

Examine the slipper and damper for wear. It should not be more than 0.039 inch (1mm).

Secure the tensioner plunger in place.

Install a Timing Chain

Put engine oil on from the top of the intake camshaft until it returns to 16mm. Line up the valve timing controller and the knock pin timing marks and insert the controller into the camshaft. Place the No. 1 piston to "Top Dead Center" (TDC). Position the crankshaft key at 12 o'clock.

Secure the sprocket bolt to 33 foot pounds (45 Nm). The camshafts should line up with the sprockets' point marks. Tauten the chain damper bolt to 96 inch pounds (11 Nm).

Align the timing chain with the crankshaft and camshaft sprockets with the yellow links. Attach the following: chain tension slipper, crankshaft angle sensor plate (F mark is forward), new front cover seal, silicone sealing for the timing chain cover and the cover.

Reinstall the water pump. Secure the 10mm "C" bolts to 80-inch lbs. (9 Nm); "A" bolts to 10 ft. lbs. (13 Nm) and the other 10mm bolts to 96-inch lbs. (11 Nm). The 12mm bolts should be at 14 ft. lbs. (18.5 Nm). Tighten the stud bolt to 82-inch lbs. (9.3 Nm).

Reconnect the right engine mount bracket, drive belt tensioner, crankshaft position sensor and pulley.

Constrict the chain tensioner and put in a new tensioner with new O-rngs. Tighten the bolts to 80-inch lbs. Put the hook on the pin to maintain compression. Rotate the crankshaft to the left and take the hook out. Rotate the crankshaft to the right until the tensioner slipper moves past the plunger.

Line up the timing marks on the crankshaft pulley and the timing chain cover. The camshaft sprockets' timing marks should be facing each other.

Reconnect any remaining items and replace the coolant. Start the engine and check for leaks.

Items you will need

  • New timing chain

  • Soft-jawed vise

  • Various wrenches and screwdrivers

  • Socket set

 How to Check and Replace a Timing Chain in a Nissan Altima

Remove Your Timing Chain

Check your owner's manual for the recommended mileage for replacing your timing chain. Replacement for a Nissan Altima is 60,000 miles.

Locate the timing chain. Replace it if the automatic chain adjuster (also known as the tensioner) is damaged or worn.

Drain the cooling system and disengage the negative battery cable. Undo the spark plug wires and set the No. 1 piston at "Top Dead Center" (TDC) of the compression stroke.

Disconnect the engine undercover, vacuum and fuel hoses, harness and connectors, drive belts, power steering reservoir, alternator and bracket, upper radiator hose, air duct, front exhaust tube, intake manifold collector supports, collector and exhaust manifold and the distributor.

Prop up the oil pan and take out the front engine mounting, the valve cover, camshaft sprockets, cam bearing caps, camshafts, cylinder head bolts (reverse the installation order), cam sprocket cover, upper chain tensioner, chain guides and chain, idler sprocket bolt, cylinder head, intake manifold and cylinder head gasket and the steel oil pan.

Place a steel cutter between the steel and aluminum oil pans. Slip the cutter around the oil pan's edge. Disengage the steel oil pan, baffle plate, oil strainer and the front tube.

Secure the car on jack stands and place a seal cutter in between the oil pan and cylinder block. Slip the cutter around the oil pan's edge.

Install Your Timing Chain

Reconnect the crankshaft sprocket, oil pump drive spacer, idler sprocket and lower timing chain. Position the lower timing chain on the sprockets and line up the mating marks.

Rub on an unbroken bead of liquid gasket and put in a new front cover and oil seal. Secure the bolt at 105 to 112 foot pounds (142 to 152 Nm).

Eliminate any old material from the pan and cylinder block mounting surfaces. Rub on a 3.5 to 4.5mm bead of liquid gasket over the oil pan and cylinder block.

Attach the upper timing chain to the idler sprockets and secure the cylinder head bolts.

Refill the cooling system and add clean oil in the engine.

Hook up the negative battery cable and any other disconnected parts or items. Start the engine and look for leaks.

Items you will need

  • New timing chain

  • Basic automotive tools

 How to Check and Replace a Timing Chain in a Chevy Camaro

Remove Your Timing Chain

Locate the timing chain. Replace it if the automatic chain adjuster (also known as the tensioner) is damaged or worn.

Drain the cooling system and crankcase.

Disengage the negative battery cable, air cleaner and intake air duct, coolant pump bolts, drive belt tensioner and the power steering pump pulley and inlet hose if warranted.

Shift the position of the hose clamp on the return line.

Line up the sprockets' timing marks, including the timing chain damper, the camshaft sprocket and timing chain and crankshaft sprocket.

Install Your Timing Chain

Rotate the crankshaft until the number one piston is at Top Dead Center (TDC) of its compression stroke and the camshaft until the timing mark points straight down when the sprocket is momentarily installed. Implement these steps only if the crankshaft has been rotated in the engine.

Reconnect the timing chain to the sprockets with the timing marks lined up; timing chain and sprockets with the bolts secured to 74 foot pounds (100 Nm) and then another 90°; and the timing chain damper that is tightened to 16 foot pounds (22 Nm).

Turn the engine two rotations and line up the timing marks.

Fill the crankcase and cooling system.

Start the engine and look for leaks.

Items you will need

  • New timing chain

  • Various wrenches and screwdrivers

 How to Check and Replace a Timing Chain in a Chevy Avalanche

Remove Your Timing Chain

Locate the timing chain. Replace it if the automatic chain adjuster (also known as the tensioner) is worn or damaged.

Drain the cooling system and disengage the negative battery cable.

Undo the water pump, crankshaft balancer and oil seal, front cover and its bolts and gaskets and the oil pump.

Turn the engine so the camshaft and crankshaft sprocket marks align.

Disengage the camshaft sprocket bolts and timing chain and the camshaft sprocket and sprocket key.

Install Your Timing Chain

Place the key into the crankshaft's keyway.

Attach the crankshaft sprocket to the crankshaft face. Line up the crankshaft key and the crankshaft sprocket keyway. Turn the sprocket to the 12 o'clock position.

Reconnect the camshaft sprocket and the timing chain and align at 6 o'clock. Secure the sprocket bolts at 26 foot pounds (35 Nm).

Grease the oil seal's outer edge and the front cover's oil seal bore with engine oil. Use an installer to put in the crankshaft front oil seal.

Mount the front cover gasket, cover and bolts. Initiate the J41480 tool-to-front cover bolts and secure them to 18 foot pounds (25 Nm). Insert the used crankshaft balancer bolt and secure at 240 foot pounds (330 Nm) and then take the bolt out. Put in a new bolt and secure at 37 foot pounds (50 Nm) and tighten 140°.

Put a feeler gauge betwixt the front cover and a straight edge tool and insert the crankshaft balancer bolt. Align the oil pan-to-cover bolts so the cover is against the pan rail.

Secure the oil pan to front cover and the front cover bolts at 18 foot pounds (25 Nm).

Replace the water pump.

Items you will need

  • New timing chain

  • Crankshaft Sprocket Installer tool No. J 22102

  • Crankshaft Protector Button tool No. J 42846

 How to Check and Replace a Timing Chain in a Dodge Durango

Remove Your Timing Chain

Locate the timing chain. Replace it if the automatic chain adjuster (also known as the tensioner) is damaged or worn.

Take off the timing chain cover.

Rotate the engine so the camshaft and crankshaft sprocket marks align.

Disengage the crankshaft oil slinger and the camshaft sprocket bolt.

Release the sprockets and timing chain simultaneously.

Install Your Timing Chain

Rotate the chain tensioner lever to the down (unlocked) location.

Condense the spring by drawing the tensioner block in the direction of the tensioner lever. Grip the block and rotate the lever until it locks.

Put in the crankshaft key, the sprockets and the timing chain. Align as needed.

Tighten the camshaft sprocket's bolt to 80 foot pounds (108 Nm).

Line up the crankshaft properly with 20 chain pins between the timing marks.

Release the chain adjuster's lever and put in the oil slinger.

Replace the sprockets and timing chain, camshaft sprocket bolt and the timing chain cover.

Items you will need

  • New timing chain

  • Various wrenches and screwdrivers

  • Seal puller