In life, when things happen at the right time good things will usually follow. The same is true for your car. If you keep up with the maintenance and make sure everything vital is working properly, you are rewarded with a reliable and safe means of transportation. But do you ever wonder what is going on inside your engine as you’re cruising down the road?
Last time we covered misfires and how they inhibit proper operation of an engine. In this installment, we will cover the key role that proper engine timing plays in getting you from A to B. Engines run like finely tuned high end watches. There are so many complex moving parts in a modern day engine and as long as the engine is running, all these parts are moving at a very high velocity.
The engine sucks in air and fuel, compresses the mixture, ignites it, and blows out the bad gases before it repeats and does it all over again. This happens in each cylinder regardless of how many your engine has and it happens thousands of times every minute. All these movements work to do one thing which is to create power to turn the crankshaft. If at any point, one wrong move can spell disaster. Most engines these days are “interference” types which means if the timing is not correct, the moving parts at high velocity can collide and damage each other. Preventive maintenance is key to having a long-lasting vehicle. That’s why it’s critical to always maintain proper maintenance on your timing belt or chain.
A timing belt is made of rubber and is different from the belt that runs the alternator, air conditioning and power steering. This belt turns both the camshaft(s), crankshaft, and in most cases the water pump. It must be replaced regularly at specified service intervals, usually around 90-100 thousand miles or 7-8 years. If not, the belt may fail by breaking which would lead to engine components moving out of synchronization and making contact.
A timing chain is a little different but does the same job. Timing chains are sealed inside of the engine by a timing cover and lubricated by engine oil. The chain rides on multiple plastic guide rails and kept in tension by either a mechanical or hydraulic tensioner. These chains usually last the lifetime of the vehicle. So for many cars, as long as you make sure the chain assembly stays lubricated with oil, you don’t need to replace the chain at a set mileage. This includes oil services done on time, as well as taking care of pesky oil leaks. There are vehicles out there that do have timing chain components that are more prone to failure than normal. I won’t go into detail here about which ones, but it is always a good thing to know if your car has critical components that are prone to fail.
So any time you have questions about your car feel free talk to one of the experts at MR Auto SD. See you next time.