Bad Timing: What Happens When Your Timing Chain Begins to Wear Out
If you've ever wondered how a car engine continues to run following that initial explosive compression, you should know that it's mostly to do with the timing chain. While other parts need to move to keep everything firing nicely, the timing chain keeps it all in order. So as this is one of the most important components in the entire vehicle, how can you make sure that it is kept in good condition?
Timing Belt in Action
The timing belt can be found on the front of the engine. It runs around a series of gears and pulleys and primarily connects the crankshaft to the camshaft. When the pistons turn the crankshaft, the chain will also cause the camshaft to rotate and, as it does so, will open and close valves. These valves allow fuel and air to enter the combustion chamber, where the mixture is detonated to push those pistons down. As you can see, this is a circular process and enables the engine to keep running.
It is very important to ensure that the timing chain runs smoothly and without any hesitation. Nevertheless, it is exposed to extreme conditions and can also pick up debris from the underlying road surface.
When a mechanic tunes your engine, they will adjust the timing chain to ensure that the valves open and close at precisely the right moment. As time goes by, however, the chain can begin to stretch, which may affect the valve timing, resulting in a misfire. In the beginning, the difference may be hardly noticeable, but soon, the engine will start to run very poorly, and you'll find it difficult to overtake a slower vehicle. Eventually, the timing chain will start to stretch even more, and it may skip a gear on either the crankshaft or the camshaft.
Early intervention is required because if the chain were to break altogether, this could cause catastrophic damage to the engine. Were the chain to break, the internal parts would still be moving at speed, but without a timing chain to keep everything in place, mayhem would ensue. You would undoubtedly be left with a major rebuild and a significant bill to pay.
When was the last time that you checked the timing chain on your vehicle? If it's been some time, you are advised to get a mechanic to look at it and make any adjustments as necessary.