Timing Chain vs. Timing Belt: What’s the Difference?

When you open the hood of a car, you might notice some important parts that help the engine run smoothly. A critical part is the timing belt or timing chain. They play a crucial role in ensuring the engine's moving parts work harmoniously. Let's explore the differences between a timing belt and a timing chain so you can better understand how they work.

Material and Appearance:

A timing belt is usually made of rubber, sort of like a thick rubber band. On the other hand, a timing chain is more like a metal necklace made up of interlocking links. While a timing belt might be quieter, a timing chain is more robust and durable.


The timing belt or chain is found inside the engine. They connect the crankshaft (which turns the wheels) and the camshaft (which opens and closes the engine's valves). This connection is super important because it helps the engine's parts move at the right time.


Here's a big difference: timing belts need to be replaced every 60,000 to 100,000 miles. They can wear out or even break over time. Timing chains, however, can last much longer, even the car's entire life in many cases. This means less worrying about getting the timing chain replaced.

Cost of Replacement:

Changing a timing belt can be expensive because it's labor-intensive. It requires taking apart some of the engines. On the other hand, a timing chain replacement is often cheaper, partly because it doesn't need to be changed as frequently.


A timing chain is generally considered better for high-performance engines. It can handle the increased stress and heat that comes with fast driving. However, many regular cars use timing belts, and they work well for everyday driving.


Timing chains can be a bit noisier due to the metal parts rubbing against each other. Timing belts, being made of rubber, are usually quieter. Some people prefer a quieter engine, while others don't mind a bit of noise.

Both timing belts and timing chains have essential jobs in a car's engine. Timing belts are like reliable workers but need more attention and replacement. On the other hand, timing chains are tough and long lasting, but they might make a bit more noise. When choosing between the two, it often depends on the car's design and your driving habits. So, next time you're driving, you'll know more about what's happening under the hood!

Timing Belt vs Timing Chain

Written by Ferber's Automotive & Body Shop