Timing Gears vs Timing Chain – What’s the Difference?

In the world of auto repairs, understanding timing gears and timing chains is a must. What’s the difference between them? How do they work?

What type of car do you need each one for? These are all very important questions to know the answers to if you want to get your car running smoothly.

In this article, we’ll explain what these two components are, how they work, and which cars require each one. Ready to learn more? Let’s get started!

What is timing gear?

The timing gear is a system used to synchronize the rotation of the crankshaft and camshafts. It’s made up of several gears, each with its own timing chain. The gears mesh together to create an even rotational speed for the engine.

Timing chain tensioner: When you change your oil, it’s important to tighten or loosen the timing chain tensioner as well. This ensures that the timing chain is properly stretched and in good condition. If it becomes damaged, it can cause your engine to misfire or even fail completely.

Timing belt: A timing belt also plays a role in ensuring that your engine runs at its correct rotational speed. It connects the engine block (or crankcase) to the camshafts and helps keep them rotating at their designated speeds. If this belt breaks, it can cause serious damage to your engine internals.

What is the timing chain?

The timing chain is a metal or plastic band that connects the crankshaft to the camshaft. The timing chain links together each of the gears on the engine and ensures they rotate at precisely the right time.

The timing chain has several jobs, including:

  • Synchronizing all of the gears in succession
  • Driving oil into and out of each gearbox lobe
  • Providing power to your valves (inlet and exhaust)

When it comes to timing, two things are critical: your engine must be timed correctly and your timing chain must be in good condition. If either one is off by even a fraction of a second, you’ll experience problems like poor fuel economy, missed emissions targets, or poor performance.

If you’re not sure whether your timing chain needs replacing, ask your mechanic for an inspection — they should be able to tell you if it’s time for a replacement.

How do they work?

Timing gears and timing chains work together to provide your car with the correct time. Your engine needs two things to run correctly: fuel and air/fuel mixture. The timing chain links the camshafts (the parts that control valve opening and closing) with the crankshaft (the part that spins the gears).

The key thing to understand about a timing gear is that it doesn’t actually move; it just shifts the position of a link in a chain. This means you can use one gear for multiple purposes, such as cruising in neutral or starting up from a stop.

A timing chain has two main sections: an inner drive sprocket and an outer cover. The cover holds the chain on tight while you’re driving, which prevents it from getting caught on anything and making noise (or worse).

When you first start your car, or when it’s been sitting for a while, you should check all of your gears and replace any worn or damaged components. It’s also important to lube everything regularly – oil helps prevent friction, which reduces wear on your gears.

Timing Gears vs Timing Chain – Difference?

Timing gears and timing chains are two of the most important components in an engine, responsible for ensuring that your pistons move in sync with your camshafts. While both perform similar tasks, there are a few key differences between them that can affect how well your engine runs.

Timing gears are made up of toothed metal discs that rotate together at specific intervals. They’re typically more reliable than timing chains because they don’t stretch or wear out as quickly — meaning they need less maintenance over time.

However, they tend to be noisier than timing chains due to their gear-like construction, which can cause extra vibration inside the engine compartment. On the other hand, timing chains consist of a series of interconnected links that fit tightly around each other when it moves along its track.

These types last longer since they don’t require frequent lubrication like gearing does and also tend to be quieter thanks to their smooth operation. The downside is that if not properly maintained or replaced regularly, it can become stretched or worn out fairly quickly — leading to costly repairs down the road.

Which cars need which type of timing system?

Timing gears and timing chains are the two types of systems used to keep a car’s camshafts and crankshafts in sync. But which cars need which type of system? Generally, newer cars (manufactured after 1990) use a timing chain while older models tend to have a timing belt or gear setup.

However, there are exceptions — some luxury vehicles still come with timing gears despite their age. Additionally, some modern engines may feature both a chain and gears or belts depending on the complexity of the engine design.

When choosing an engine for your vehicle, it’s important to consider how reliable its components are; if you’re unsure about whether your car has a chain or belt, consult your owner’s manual for more information.

Furthermore, when replacing these parts it is best to opt for genuine OEM replacements from trusted suppliers as this will ensure optimal performance and reliability over time.

How to Tell if Timing Gears or Timing Chains Need Replacing

Knowing when to replace your timing gears or chain is critical for keeping your engine running efficiently. Timing gear and chains typically last between 60,000 – 120,000 miles depending on the type of vehicle you have and how hard you drive it.

If either component begins to wear down before this, it can cause serious damage to your engine and result in expensive repair bills. One way to tell if either part needs replacing is by listening carefully for strange noises coming from the engine bay while driving.

If you experience clunking or rattling sounds during acceleration or deceleration then the timing gears may need adjusting or replacing. Additionally, if you notice any oil leaks around where the timing components are located then there could be a problem with them as well.

Lastly, check out all visible parts of the belt and chain; if they look worn and frayed then they should be replaced immediately. Taking these steps will help ensure that your car runs smoothly without any major issues along the way!


Q: What is a timing chain and gear?

A: A timing chain and gear are components of an internal combustion engine that are responsible for synchronizing the rotation of the crankshaft and the camshaft(s). The timing chain is a metal chain that connects the gears on the crankshaft and camshaft(s), ensuring that they rotate in harmony.

Q: Should you replace timing gears with a chain?

A: The decision to replace timing gears with a chain depends on the specific engine design. Many modern engines utilize a timing chain instead of timing gears because chains are generally more durable and require less frequent replacement compared to gears.

However, some older engines or specialized applications may still use timing gears. It is important to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations regarding the replacement of timing gears with a chain.

Q: What is the advantage of timing gears?

A: Timing gears offer certain advantages in specific engine designs. They are known for their robustness and ability to handle heavy loads. Timing gears are often used in high-performance engines or applications where precise timing is critical. They can withstand high RPMs and are less prone to stretching or breaking compared to timing belts or chains.

Q: What is the difference between timing gear and timing belt?

A: The main difference between a timing gear and a timing belt lies in their composition and how they transmit power. Timing gears are made of metal and use interlocking teeth to synchronize the rotation of the crankshaft and camshaft(s).

Timing belts, on the other hand, are made of rubber with embedded fibers and rely on the belt’s teeth meshing with corresponding gears or sprockets to achieve synchronization. Timing belts are generally quieter and lighter than timing gears, but they may require more frequent replacement due to wear and degradation.


To sum up, the main difference between timing gears and a timing chain is that timing gears are used to transfer motion from the crankshaft of an engine to its camshaft(s). Timing chains, on the other hand, use metal links connected by sprockets instead of cogs.

Both have their advantages and disadvantages – while timing chains are quieter than timing gears, they also require more frequent replacement as they wear out faster. Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference when choosing which type of system you want in your engine.