Timing Chain Broke and Destroyed Engine!

Can a car’s timing chain be purposely broken as an act of vandalism?

No. The vandals would have to steal the car, take it to a garage and work on it for a while to break a timing chain.

Not unless someone spent hours disassembling part of the engine first. A broken timing chain if usually caused by very high mileage, failure to change the oil regularly, or in some cases low oil pressure which then acts upon an oil pressure operated tensioner.

So why do you think vandals are at work here?

Please give us more details: year, miles, engine, and what exactly happened.

No not really.

However the likely cause is simply age of vehicle. The last year of Grand Am was at least 10 years ago.

Not likely. I’ve only seen one broken chain in my long career. It was actually a broken phenolic/aluminum timing gear on the camshaft that let go and destroyed the chain. The construction of a timing chain is “almost” bulletproof.

The o.p. has not replied with year and engine.
I wonder if the term ‘timing chain’ is being used generically though the car may actually have a timing belt ? ( which gave up by age )

That’s kind of what I’m thinking. I assume if we’re suspecting sabotage, that it was fine one minute and completely severed the next, which is definitely not the usual mode of failure for a timing chain. Did any Grand Am’s come with timing belts? Was there a version with the Quad-Four maybe?

Gates shows Grand Am 4 cyl, 1987-1989 had a timing belt.

Absolutely. We used to do that all the time when I was a kid.

Divorces can get ugly…

Stuff ( S%#@ ) Happens ! What Have You Done Recently To Suspect Vandals When It Does ?


It would be a really stupid act of vandalism, getting INSIDE the engine.

It’s a lot easier to put nasty stuff in the gas tank that disables the engine.

I suspect your car has a 4 cylinder engine with a TIMING BELT, and you have not changed it every 40,000 miles.

Most people have enemies of some sort, but I believe you are being paranoid about vandalism. Please tell us what year car, the engine you have (4 or 6), and the mileage and we can give you a more accurate answer as to what happened.

Last month my rear view mirror on the passenger side was broken and scratched; that’s vandalism.

It would be far easier and more costly to simply loosen a drain plug. Most people ignore the oil light or gauge anyway.

It doesn’t look like the OP will be returning to this thread.
But, just in case he/she does, I have to ask–Do you also believe that people are following you?

Ok…everyone, please relax and take a deep breath…it was just a question!! There’s no need to get all bent out of shape over a simple little question. Some of you guys take your jobs-and probably everything else in your life–way too seriously!! Now I know that my question may have seemed a little paranoid, but please understand that I have very very limited mechanical knowledge. The reason I would ask such an off the wall question is because this is the second consecutive clunker I’ve owned in a one year time period, and they both stopped working for the exact same reason!! Both cars had a broken timing chain, TIMING BELT, or whatever it is supposed to be called. Forgive me…I obviously don’t know the appropriate nomenclature or terminology or anything about cars…only because I figured men have to serve some purpose on this earth, right? Just kidding…don’t get upset! With regard to my personal situation… I am not recently divorced, I don’t hear voices, and I am pretty sure there isn’t anyone following or stalking me. Oh, and to the fella with the scratched mirror…sorry to hear about your misfortune. Why in the world would anyone want to vandalize your vehicle? You seem like such a kind, laid back, and pleasant mechanical laborer!

The Lemons:

99 Pontiac Grand Am 4 cylinder approximately 150000 miles timing belt broke causing approximately 2000 worth of engine damage recently bought car back in Feb. 2010 from an fine upstanding honest used car salesman, which means…no I am not the careless individual who didn’t have this car serviced regularly! And I haven’t the slightest idea if the service records even exist or where they would be located

2000 Honda Accord 4 cylinder high miles(150k+) same mechanical failure only had this car for 2 months before it fell apart, so again I am not the dodo who didn’t take care of their vehicle did not have this car repaired

Anymore questions, comments, concerns??? Feel free to respond, but please keep all of the rude BS outta here from this point forward! Oh, and thanks so much to the ones who responded politely…the world definitely needs more kind folks like you!

It is unlikely that the timing systems failed due to sabotage unless the sabateur had access to the cars with a convenient place to work on them. It is likely that the Grand-Am had a Quad 4 engine which is somewhat problematic for many reasons but a failing timing chain usually gives some reasonable forewarning of chain failure with noisy, rough idling when driven normally. The Honda would have been nearly due for a second timing belt and may have still had the original belt on it with failure past due. That is very common on Hondas.

It seems some are having a bad day. I’m so glad my day of mechanical laboring was profitable and gratifying. And I recommend that you find an honest and dependable mechanic who is familiar with your next choice of autos.

Many of today’s POS cars use rubber timing belts and “interference” engines which self-destruct when the belt breaks…To replace these belts costs $800+ so nobody is in in any hurry to do it, certainly not used car lots…

Solution: Buy a 5-6 year old Crown Vic or similar car and drive it until the wheels fall off. When they fall off, they usually can be put back on for $200 or less…6 cylinder pick-up trucks are a good choice too, just make sure they don’t have a rubber timing belt. It they do, subtract $800 or have the seller replace it BEFORE you buy it…Have the seller provide a fresh emissions test too and that the “check engine light” is working properly…

It depends on the car, mechanic and the engine. $400~600 is not unreasonable for a Civic or Focus, and I’ve read VW charges $1,000 for it

The reason that multiple cars are failing in the same way is most likely you. It sounds like you aren’t getting the timing belts changed every xx miles or x years as prescribed by the owner’s manuals.