March 23, 2021

Which timing should I choose: a chain or a belt?

By admin

In the world of cars there are questions that have long become “eternal”. What is better – diesel or gasoline, manual or automatic gearbox, left or right steering… One more question can be referred to this list – what is better the timing belt or the chain. Automakers are now installing a camshaft drive with a belt on modern units. But why not a chain? Let’s try to figure it out. But in the world of cars, there is a question to which the answer has long been known. If your car is hopelessly broken, you should recycle it here:

Older cars used to have a two-row chain. It was difficult to break, but it stretched over time and began to make noise. Nowadays, they try to make the engine block as compact as possible to make the interior more nimble. That’s why the motor is shorter and so is the chain. In addition, it has changed from a two-row chain to a single-row and thin, similar to the chain of an ordinary bicycle.

According to the technical design, the chain must be in an oil bath at all times, unlike the belt, which is outside. As a result, it is necessary to lengthen the cylinder block and cylinder head by the width of the chain – and that’s extra kilograms. But the main problem is the fragility of the thin chain.

Accordingly, if earlier the two-row chain could last the whole life before the overhaul, the single-row chain has become the same consumable material as the belt. But the chain design is more complicated and the materials for manufacturing are more expensive. The chain is more massive, makes more noise, and chain replacement is three times more expensive.

Therefore, when buying a car with chain drive we advise to thoroughly diagnose all components of timing belt drive (timing chain).

Timing chain drive

Engines with a chain drive have their advantages
Despite the disadvantages, chain-driven power units exist successfully. There are a number of reasons for this. On the one hand, the chain is protected from atmospheric manifestations. She is not afraid of heat or frost, dust or other factors that can affect the life of the belt. On the other hand, with a chain, you can set the timing phases more accurately. Over time, the chain will not stretch and at high rpm the engine will not lose power over time. Well and thirdly, such a powertrain is more resistant to overloading.

It can also be noted that systems with variable timing phases are more reliable. The main thing is to have sufficient oil circulation. In addition, the life of the chain is twice as long as that of the belt. It’s true that replacement is more expensive, but it only needs to be done when the chain is stretched.

Timing belt drive

Advantages of Belt Drive Engines
One of the main advantages of the timing belt is its elasticity. This quality increases the life of the shaft beds. The belt is not as noisy as a chain. It can be made in any length and can be tensioned with mechanical tensioners. The belt does not need oil to work. It will work both on a cold and hot engine.

It is much easier to diagnose such a timing belt, and replacement is much easier. At the same time, the power unit itself is lighter and more compact.

The disadvantages of the belt include the fact that it is afraid of oil, water, low temperatures. In addition, it is not durable.

There is another disadvantage, if the belt breaks, you can tear the valves, which will lead to an overhaul of the entire engine. Therefore, you should not forget to check your car at the service station in time.

So what is better: chain or belt?
As a result, we get that the belt can have a stable resource and a low replacement price if necessary. The chain, in turn, has a high price and dependence on powertrain lubrication. Therefore, car manufacturers are also looking for a “golden mean.”

For example, the largest German manufacturer Volkswagen installs a belt on its budget models, and a chain is installed on larger power units. In the mid-range, some models are fitted with a belt, and others with a chain. And even in some cases, both chain and belt are even combined.

Another German manufacturer, Opel, which is part of the U.S. concern GM, uses a chain on all of its power units. This is in spite of the fact that cars in the mid-range have less than ideal reliability of chain application.

BMW also uses chains. But many remember the successful M40 motor with a belt timing.

In general, we can say that you can not be afraid of the belt. It’s just necessary to watch its condition and change it in time. Besides, you should not fully rely on the durability of chains. They sometimes let you down. The most important thing is not to limit yourself by various technical conventions.