Timing belt or chain?




I am a new grad student, in the market for a used (cheap) car. Right now I am considering a Hyundai accent sedan gl 1997 with 96k miles and toyota corolla 1998 with 130k miles. Both have automatic transmission. My biggest concern is the timing belt. On doing a little search online, I found there were conflicting reports of whether corolla’s have timing belts or chains. Could you guys help me out? Is there anything else that I should look for particularly these two vehicles?



The Toytoa Corolla uses a timing belt. It should have been changed once already. It is close to needing it again. If you do get it replaced, change the water pump if it has not been done already. About the only other item that I would look at is the solenoid contacts on the starter. They wear and will eventually give a click but no crank symptom. Otherewise the Corolla is really very reliable transportation IMHO.


Another post here said that their Toyota Corolla transmission went south at 115,000 miles. That is much too soon.


Somebody better tell the auto parts stores to stop selling timing chains for Toyota Corolla 1.8L engine, IF they don’t have timing chains!


The timing belt is really nothing to be worried about-- you just need to change it every 70K miles or so and you’ll be fine. The Corolla you’re looking at is probably close to needing it changed, so just figure an extra 300 bucks or so in the purchase price.


Contrary-wise, those selfsame auto parts stores ARE selling timing belts for the 1.5L 4 cylinder interference fit engine on the Hyundai Accent. At 97,000 miles, I doubt that the timing belt has EVER been changed. I would require PROOF if the seller said that the timing belt had been changed, not just SAY-SO! A slipped/broken timing belt means expensive engine repair.


Let me make it a little clearer. The auto parts stores are selling timing chains for Toyota Corolla because Toyota Corallas HAVE timing chains.


I have a follow up question: do only automatic transmission cars have timing belts or even cars with manual trans have them?


1998 Toyota Corolla uses timing chain. I know as I own one. Very reliable & less maintenance compare to a car with timing belt. I only buy cars with t/chain. I don’t have to worry about changing the timing belt, water pump, tensioner, when to change, possible damage to the piston/valve, etc…


Automatic or manual transmission makes no difference. It has nothing to do with the timing belt/chain. Either kind of transmission could have either kind of engine.


I don’t have to worry about changing the timing belt, water pump, tensioner, when to change, possible damage to the piston/valve,

Sure you do…if you keep it long enough…Timing chains don’t last for ever. They tend to need servicing before the 300k mile mark. If you’re like me and keep them that long then it will need servicing. And if you don’t and it has a interference engine…epect MAJOR engine damage if the chain slips. Also expect 4-5 times the cost of replacing the chain then a belt (unless you plan on doing it yourself).


Timing chains also tend to “stretch” as the wear, which affects the cam timing. Some engines allow you to install offset keys to compensate for the stretch, but eventually you will need to replace the chain. Personally, I like to replace them about every 200K miles, just to be safe. They are more costly than belts.


The easiest way to tell is look at the front of the engine. If there is a separate plastic cover on the front of the valve cover, then it is a belt. A timing belt must be separated from the engine oil.

If the front of the valve cover is continuous without a separate cover, it is a chain. The chain is lubricated with engine oil, and inside the seals.