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Replace timing chain, chain guides and timing chain tensioner along with timing cover gasket?

My mechanic discovered an oil leak and recommends replacing the timing cover gasket, timing chain, chain guides, and timing chain tensioner. I can understand replacing the gasket, but is it necessary and/or worthwhile to change the rest? Thanks for your help.

If it helps, the car is a 2000 Toyota Corolla with 160K miles.

If there’s only an oil leak, I don’t understand why you should replace anything else - it’s not a timing belt.

The mechanic is probably looking at this as a preventative measure. At that mileage odds are the chain and especially the tensioners are worn to some extent. If the timing cover is off it’s best to go ahead and change the chain and tensioners also.

Another example would be if someone decided to change a transmission out on a rear drive car. The engine rear main seal and driveshaft U-joints should be done at the same time if the vehicle is aged and/or has high miles on it.

Well…isn’t the cost for all this a LOT more than just the gasket? Or isn’t it? I don’t know…

No the cost isnt much more, the parts are cheap and they will need to be removed to do the chain…so just do them.

I SAY THAT…IT SURE IS Needed…Don’t have the guy go in there to do that semi-complex job and cut corners on those inexpensive parts that have everything to do with the longevity of the new chain…

Yeah…let him do it… and he shouldn’t be charging you much more (besides parts) either…I mean he has to deal with all those old parts to do the job…it takes little to nothing to simply install the new parts while they are right there…and probably in his hands too. Those other parts like the guides and tensioner shouldn’t be asked to pull another tour of duty when they already saw the 1st chain thru battle…they wont make it thru the next battle while the chain would be fine…its companion parts need to hold up longevity wise to support the new chain in going the distance…Understand?


Removing the timing cover in order to replace the gasket will take quite a bit of time and cost a lot for labor. Replacing the timing components in addition to that probably won’t cost a whole lot more. The timing chain is probably in fairly good condition, since it usually lasts the life of the vehicle. Your mechanic is recommending replacement of the parts so it’ll be less likely that you have to replace them in the future, in which case you have to pay for those hours of labor again.

Unless the timing chain or tensioner is in bad condition, it isn’t necessary to replace them. If you plan to keep the vehicle for a long time, I’d say it’s worthwhile to replace them now, while the mechanic has them accessed, since getting that access is the most expensive part of the replacement. But that’s just an opinion.

“since getting that access is the most expensive part of the replacement. But that’s just an opinion.”…Nope that IS a fact…

I agree with f848…if you want to drive this vehicle for a long while etc…replace the parts and they are NOT that X pensive…thing is…what r they TRYING to charge you is the question? ALSO…BEWARE OF CHINESEUM…DO NOT replace factory Toyota parts with Chineseum…THAT is the caveat…I forgot to say that

The hardest part of a timing chain job is just getting to the chain. If the gasket of a timing chain cover is leaking then to replace just the gasket…you might as well go a little be farther and replace the chain and guides. The labor is the biggest cost and to add the timing chain parts would be a slight increase in the overall price. On many cars you have to drop the oil pan to remove the front timing chain cover. If it were my car I’d say just replace it.

I compare it to a bad throw-out bearing. If a throw-out bearing is bad you might as well replace the whole clutch assembly (clutch and pressure plate). Yes those parts are probably 10 times the cost of just the bearing…but the main cost of this job is removing the tranny just to get to the bearing. Since you already have the transmission out and even though the clutch and pressure plate are fine you might as well replace them.

I think that it would be money well spent. A 13 year old vehicle with 160K would justify the expense.

How bad is the leak? Does it drip? Is the chain quiet?
I might be inclined to leave it alone for awhile.

I would say it depends on you plans for the car. If it is a rust bucket or you plan to keep it less than 20,000 miles then just replace the gasket. If it is just a small drop on the ground and you don’t have long term plans, do nothing.

Anyone know the cost of just the gasket vs. the whole deal? If it’s 50% or more, then I’d do the whole deal. Otherwise, I might wait.

The labor is 4.3 hours, an OEM Toyota chain is $197.00, guide, damper, tensioner $90.

I doubt an indy shop is going to use OEM parts though. They will buy them from a local parts store and will be considerably cheaper than Toyota OEM parts.

In a perfect world one might change the gasket only and everything will be fine no matter what. In the real world what will happen, as surely as the sun rises in the east, is that if the gasket only is replaced and the timing chain jumps, breaks, rattles due to a bad tensioner/worn guide or whatever 20k miles later that the majority of people would be posing a question on this forum about being ripped off by an incompetent mechanic who changed the gasket and surely was the cause of any current problems.

I’ve seen countless times where someone did not want to proceed with a proper repair and would even sign off on a copy of the repair order acknowledging they will not hold the shop responsible for the car owner’s shortsightedness. When a problem does develop many will not remember signing off on it. Some even claim to have “lost their copy” and in a few cases when presented a file copy have even claimed their signatures were forged or they “don’t remember signing that paper”.

If the gasket repair was being done on a low miles engine, even as a warranty job, then I could see the gasket only. When you’re well into the 6 digits mileage wise, especially if the oil change regimen has been lax, then it’s best to be prudent if you’re going to keep the car.
Of course, that brings up the point about ethics of the car owner who would be willing to slop it together with the intention of dumping it off on a dealer as a trade or on a buyer through a private sale.

Amen brotha

I had a timing chain in my '85 Celica(130K, automatic, last year with rear wheel drive - sad to say) when I started it, the chain would make a 2-3 second rattle (not loud). The only danger, I was told , was the possibility of the chain breaking and putting a hole in the cover ($400)…or JB? but I heard of 2 or 3 people who had 200 - 300 K with same chain. I’d still be buying that model if Toyota kept the 4cyl RWD Celica. Supra had 6 cyl …Mike

Some Toyota engines are interference. If you have a timing chain with an interference engine and the chain slips it could destroy the engine. At the very least valve damage and in either case well over $1500 in damage.

but I heard of 2 or 3 people who had 200 - 300 K with same chain.

Chains do last that long (or longer). My dad junked his 67 Chevy because the timing chain slipped when the car had over 350k miles. No engine damage, but it wasn’t worth repairing.

but I heard of 2 or 3 people who had 200 - 300 K with same chain.

I’ll be your next one to hear about, after Mike’s father. I replaced the timing chain on my car last year. It had around 230,000 miles on it. The chain deflection was just short of the 5/16 inch limit given in the repair manual. It probably could have lasted a long time after that, but there was no way I was going to fail to replace it since I had access to it.

I agree, replace it all while you are in there. Just foolish not too at 160K. But to me the hardest part is getting the dang balancer off.

Cake with the right tools… then again…LOL…sometimes they can seek revenge on you.