How to Tell If Your Timing Chain Is Broke?

by Rick Paulas

The timing chain of a car is an extremely important part to allow the car to work properly. The chain (sometimes referred to as a "belt") is located in the car's engine and controls the opening and closing of the exhaust and intake valves. The chain must be accurately aligned due to the fact that the piston must be synchronized completely with the valves. If a timing chain is misaligned, it will significantly affect how the car runs. But if a timing chain is broke, the car will not run at all.

1

Try to start your car. If your car breaks down while you are driving, or if you cannot start your car, there is a chance that your timing chain is broke. If you are able to start your car, then the problem is not that your timing chain is broke. However, if your car is running improperly, there is a chance the timing chain has been misaligned and it needs an adjustment.

2

Open the hood of the car and locate your engine. Remove the distributor cap, which looks similar to the top of a factory building with a number of short chimney-like protrusions coming from the top. The number of protrusions depends on how many cylinders the engine has. After removing it, crank the engine. If the rotor of the engine moves, your timing chain is intact. If it does not, your timing chain is broken.

3

Remove the cover of the engine valves to allow you to look at them. Start the engine. If the valves are not moving when you try to start the engine, that means that the timing chain is no longer alerting the valves on when to open and close, meaning that your timing chain is broken.

4

Certain cars have computers which can read any problems with your engine. If the car's reading from the computer states that there is "no ignition pickup signal," you car has a broken timing chain.

About the Author

Rick Paulas is a freelance writer based out of Los Angeles. He has been writing professionally since 2005. He has previously written for "McSweeney's," ESPN.com, "Vice Magazine" and "Radar Magazine," and has worked as an editor for "The Coming," "Duct Tape & Rouge," and "TSB Magazine." Paulas holds a Bachelor of Arts in telecommunications and advertising from Michigan State University.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera luxury car - model toy car image by alma_sacra from Fotolia.com