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Timing chains vs belts

I recently bought a used Nissan Versa from Hertz (THE way to buy a late model used car IMHO) and, perusing the maintenance schedule was nonplussed by the absence of any mention of a timing belt replacement. Come to find out it has a timing chain which is supposed to last as long as the car. Now, I thought that timing chains had gone the way of the do do and it has me wondering why they are not in all cars, saving owners the price of replacement.
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Comments

  • edited August 2009
    Hate to let you in on a little secret,hordes of people have already posted the exact same question,use search, unless you are just "venting" which is OK.

    CarTalk is a pretty loose Forum. On other more disciplined forums people get irritated when the same questions are posted over and over.
  • edited August 2009
    The short answer is that both timing belts and timing chains have advantages, which rely heavily on the overall design of the engine. Some benefit from the belt, and some benefit from the chain. Do a search using "timing chains" to find a long list of threads dedicated to this issue.
  • edited August 2009
    [b][i]That Ship Just Sailed From Here A Few Weeks Ago. Click The Link And See Our Discussion.[/i][/b]

    http://community.cartalk.com/posts/list/2126095.page

    CSA
  • edited August 2009
    [b][i]Oops! Sorry![/i][/b]

    CSA
  • edited August 2009
    Chains are better. Every timing belt change is another expensive opportunity for an even more expensive error.

    I've noticed that manufacturers seem to be returning to chains for 4-bangers. Hopefully they'll return to all engines, although in DOHC V-style engines the chain has to travel a more convaluted path, adding some complications to controlling the chain at high RPMs. Chains have much more weight, and at high RPMs they want to form a circle. But it really isn't that big a deal design-wise, it's more that chains are more expensive to manufacture in than are belts.
  • edited August 2009
    Actually I did search before posting, found lots of posts about timing belts and timing chains but not WHY some use one and others the other.
  • edited August 2009
    I guess in truth it's because the department heads of some design groups are more cost-oriented and the department heads of other groups are more robustness-oriented. Belts are cheaper. Chains are more robust.
  • edited August 2009
    My understanding is that chains are a bit more expensive than belts and a bit noisier. Personally, I'd prefer a chain because changing a belt on a transversely mounted motor (modern FWD cars) is a PITA if you do it yourself, and expensive if you have it done. For cars with interference engines, I think belts are a fairly dumb idea -- especially if the water pump is driven from the timing belt. We had a water pump seize up at 40K miles 500 miles from home on one of our cars. Broke the timing belt of course. Fortunately a non-interference engine.

    As a result, I consider an interference engine with a timing belt driven water pump to be a bed enough idea that I won't buy a car built that way.
  • edited August 2009
    You do know that chains are used on high rpm DOHC V-8's and V-10's? It sounds like you think belts are better
  • edited August 2009
    Generally, it's purely a manufacturing cost issue. But manufacturers have learned that when a rubber belt breaks and destroys the engine in a customers car, that person is unlikely to buy that make of car again...Also, consumers are demanding maintenance-free cars and rubber timing belts do not fill that need...Cars with a reputation for requiring a lot of expensive maintenance will become impossible to sell.
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