Engines have a timing belt, Timing chain or timing gears that keep your engine timing all synchronized.

Its job is to make sure the valves are out of the way when that piston comes flying toward the engine’s cylinder head.

So, To understand the importance of engine timing, let’s understand what is happening within the cylinders of a normal four-stroke engine. Firstly, the piston within the cylinder is forced downwards and an air/fuel mixture enters through the opening of an inlet valve. Once the piston reaches (BDC) (bottom dead centre) it then starts its journey back to the top of the cylinder (top dead centre) with the inlet valve closing, thus compressing the air/fuel mixture.

A spark is then used to ignite the mixture from the spark plug, with this combustion forcing the piston back down to (BDC). Finally, the exhaust valve opens, allowing the gases produced by combustion to exit the cylinder for the cycle to start again.

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Timing Belts vs. Chains vs. Timing Gears

  • Timing Belts, are light and quiet, but they don’t last very long, relatively speaking. Oil and coolant leaks speed up this deterioration. Most automakers recommend replacing the timing belt every 60,000 to 105,000 miles.
  • Timing Chains, are heavier and more complex than timing belts, but they also last much longer. Really, unless there’s a problem, timing chains don’t have a replacement interval. Regular oil changes prevent premature wear, stretching, and failure.
  • Timing Gears, are the heaviest and noisiest, with a distinctive whining noise. Like timing chains, timing gears are strong, accurate and last a long time.

They can all cause a lot of damage to your engine if they break.

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