Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

2001 S-10 Chev. 4.3L V6 engine, Timing Chain and gear

I have 120,000 miles on veh. No problems with the performance of vehicle at this time. My question is. Should I replace the timing chair and gear on this veh? No mention of these is in the drivers manual. I plan on keeping he veh. a few more years. I’ve had it for 8 years, with no major problems with it. Can someone enlighten me here. Thanks. airdropbill


I would not bother

Let me qualify that statement . . . have you heard any kind of noise

If, for some reason, you want to install a timing set, make sure you install the updated one with the tensioner

By the way, the timing cover is not reusable, so you’d need one of these also

Honestly, though, I think you’ll more than likely be fine if you do nothing. 120,000 miles is a little bit young to need a chain on your engine, I believe

The good news . . . if you do want to get the timing set replaced, this engine is quite simple. Therefore, almost any independent shop should be able to get the job done

The timing chain on that engine should last well beyond 200,000 highway miles if well maintained. If most of the mileage is stop and go it might be worthwhile to put a chain on it now. It is possible to check for excessive slack by moving the crankshaft while someone watches the distributor and comparing the degrees of angle that the crank can turn before the rotor turns. Personally, I prefer using a stethoscope to listen for chattering at the timing cover.

Don’t confuse timing CHAINS with timing belts. The belts were introduced to help mechanics keep up with their boat payments. Chains tend to last the life of the vehicle.

Timing chains rarely cause any problem for at least a few hundred thousand miles, and when they finally do they get noisy long before they break. They make a terrible rattling sound that …trust me… you’ll definitely want to get fixed. You’ll know if the time comes. Emphasis on the word “if”… more than likely it’ll last you as long as you own the vehicle.


Tony, please . . .

I understand that some people can’t stand timing belts . . . but that’s no reason to make statements like you just did

In my opinion, not all timing belt jobs are gravy

I don’t think he meant anything demeaning by it. I’ve heard the comment before.

Truth is, it’s all about cost. Belts are cheaper than chains. But I think customer dissatisfaction with having to spend all that cash to have belts changed. combined with the countless problems that get experienced if it isn’t done right… which it too often isn’t… has driven manufacturers to go back to chains. At least on 4-bangers.

I believe Toyota and Honda have gone back to chains on their 4 bangers

Whereas, Hyundai, Kia, and some GM 4 bangers still use timing belts

Guys, correct me if I’m wrong, please

I might add . . . during all those years in which timing belts were very common, there were always manufacturers out there that still used timing chains. That said, there was always a choice. The customers that complained about the high costs of maintaining a car using a timing belt could have made a different choice.

Therefore, the customer shares a lot of the “blame” for buying the car in the first place

In my opinion

Several years ago, one of my colleagues told me what kind of new car he was going to buy

I advised him against it, as it had pretty poor reliability projections

He bought it anyways, and soon enough complained what a POS it was

He never once said “Man, you were right. I wish I’d listened to you.” He was too proud to do that.

I would say he was largely to blame for his dilemma, because he chose to ignore advice

The customers that complained about the high costs of maintaining a car using a timing belt could have made a different choice.

Here is where I disagree. If you keep your vehicle 300k+ miles…then a timing belt can be cheaper. Chains don’t last for ever…Physics is physics. Over time (usually after 250k miles)…chains tend to stretch. When they stretch…they can slip a tooth. Slipping a tooth on a interference engine could destroy the engine just like a broken timing belt can. Luckily timing chains will start to rattle before they need replacing. So at least you have warning.

Replacing a belt…many back-yard mechanics can do this. Most won’t attempt a chain because of the added complexity. A timing chain replacement will cost you 4-5 times what a timing belt will cost…or 10-20 times more if you do the belts yourself and pay someone to do the chain.

I’ve had to replace chains on vehicles with 250k miles or sometimes even less. My 4runner now has over 260k miles…and so far the chain is nice and quiet. So I should reach 300k without a timing chain replacement. Not sure what I’ll do when I need a chain replacement. Might just buy a new vehicle.

“Therefore, the customer shares a lot of the “blame” for buying the car in the first place”

That is bizarre. A “demand-driven” argument taken to an absurd extreme. If my PCM was made in Taiwan have I also “chosen” a part made in Taiwan? You can’t take any one specific little piece of a car and call it a matter of “customer choice.” It’s not like ordering pepperoni on a pizza. Aside from that, of course, most consumers don’t even know what a timing belt or chain is, and no one on the sales floor or in the marketing department is going to go out of their way to explain it to them - or the 1,000 other things an “informed” consumer should maybe be expected to know about a car.

I gotta go with Cig on this. That really is pushing the blame game to extremes. I seriously doubt if the average driver has any idea what the car has in it. And the sales people don’t provide a maintenance schedule for the customer to look at until the car is delivered. A comment suggesting that the customer could have made a different choice assumes that the customer has the knowledge and the information to make a different choice. I don’t think that’s realistic.

While I prefer chains, belts do have some advantages besides cost. V-style engines with overhead camshafts require convolutions and radii in the path of the camshaft driver that would be unrealistic for chains. Belts can serpentine themselves far more readily and turn tighter arcs. Granted, they have less mass, less inertia, too, but I really don’t think that adds anything for the average driver.


What are you disagreeing with me about?

As I have said before, I have no complaints about timing belts whatsoever

Less than 1-1/2 years ago, I bought another car with a timing belt

In any case, I agree with on several points in regards to timing chains

It’s not necessarily an easy job to replace a timing set

It is relatively easy if we’re talking about an ohv engine

But if we’re talking a v engine with multiple chains and tensioners . . .

And as for backyard mechanics doing a timing belt job . . . it depends

If we’re talking a simple single overhead cam 4 cylinder, sure that’s easy enough

But a dohc v engine and limited access . . . not to mention you can hardly see the marks on the firewall side


There has been some hatred of timing belts as long as they’ve been around, correct?

Why shouldn’t a customer inform himself before plunking down a lot of money for a car?

He’s going to be driving it for several years

Shouldn’t he know what he’s getting himself into?

You don’t buy a house without having it inspected, checking out the neighborhood, local schools, freeway access, noise levels, etc.

There’s no way that any car maker, dealer, or salesman will ever suggest to any potential customer that in X number of miles or X number of years they will have to dig deep into their own pocket and pay for a timing belt replacement.
That one maintenance procedure would send a lot of sales running out the door…

Most potential car buyers are not going to care anything about the car they’re considering other than the number of cup holders it has and how much that monthly payment is going to be.

It is not the salesperson’s job to tell the customer that a timing belt will be due in 60k

The salesperson probably doesn’t even know and/or care if the car has a timing belt

"The salesperson probably doesn’t even know and/or care if the car has a timing belt "

Though you suggested that the customer should - ? I’m not sure there is any kind of widespread “hatred” of timing belts since they’ve been around. I think that idea would come from spending too much time working on cars and around other people who work on cars. Most people think about timing belts about as often as they think of charcoal canisters. One thing people do know, however, is that cars have “belts” that need to be changed once in a while. But that doesn’t mean they know that, for instance, timing and accessory belts are like apples and oranges. I wonder how many people ask the car salesperson whether they can get a model with a serpentine chain rather than serpentine belt.

That one maintenance procedure would send a lot of sales running out the door....

I know a lot of people who repeatedly bought vehicles with timing belts…knowing full well what’s involved. Will some not buy…probably…but for many…it’s never been an issue.

Also a good number of people don’t own vehicles long enough to worry about a timing belt change. So it’s a moot point to them. And it’s NEVER effected resale value either. Honda Accords with timing belts have been right at the top of list for vehicles that hold their value.

I agree with Cig. In my experience, most car owners struggle to tell you how many cylinders their engine has. I know of no one outside the industry who could tell me if they’ve got belt or chain, unless they’ve just paid to have it replaced.


Regarding hatred of timing belts . . .

I don’t hate them. In fact, I think timing belts were a good idea, for various reasons which I’ll not discuss at this time

I suspect there are 2 kinds of guys who hate timing belts

The mechanics who don’t enjoy the job, because it can be labor intensive and sometimes doesn’t pay well, given what’s required to do the job perfectly

Cheap skate customers who hate the idea of a car needing more than oil changes, brakes and tires