Cam chain or timing belt? We explain the difference
Many car drivers who drive a slightly older car worry about engine damage caused by a torn timing belt. And they are right to worry, as timing belt tearing while driving at full speed is generally a death sentence for the majority of engines. Cam chain or timing belt: the cam chain as an alternative to the timing belt.
What exactly is a cam chain?
The cam chain is responsible for engine control and helps achieve an accurate combustion process. It connects the crankshaft to the two camshafts, which control the engine’s valves. The valve control depends on the speed of the engine and is realised by the camshafts.
The crankshaft converts the linear movement of the pistons to a rotary movement. The camshafts control the engine’s valves.
The steel cam chain is stronger than the timing belt – however, it is also more expensive. In contrast to the timing belt, the cam chain generally remains maintenance-free and therefore does not require replacement.
Why does my car have a timing belt?
At present approx. 75% of all vehicles are fitted with a timing belt. And for good reason: the timing belt is cheaper and quieter. The cam chain is much more expensive. It is only installed in a small number of cars, generally in sports cars, since the oscillating weight of a timing belt is lower than that of a cam chain, which results in a more agile engine.
Conclusion: Whether cam chain or timing belt, both perform the same task. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. The timing belt makes the engine cheaper to produce, but more expensive to maintain. The cam chain on the other hand often results in a long engine life, but is more expensive and complicated to manufacturer.