Noise, lower engine performance, hard starts and poor fuel economy are some of the most common timing chain problems. These problems often occur when the timing chain is worn or stretched, which typically happens when a vehicle is old and has endured heavy use. However, these problems are not unheard of in new vehicles.
When a chain engine is in operation, engine oil lubricates, cools and cleans the timing chain, thereby reducing the potential for wear, contaminants and stretching. Not keeping up with engine oil replacement schedules, not topping up the engine oil when it falls below the recommended level and using the wrong type of engine oil can cause the timing chain to wear faster.
If a timing chain has become worn, it may need to be replaced as soon is possible because leaving a timing chain issue alone can lead to bigger problems in the future. Timing chains are usually replaced as a kit with new tensioners and other mechanisms. The process of replacing a timing chain is complex and expensive, so prevention remains the best defense.
Regular engine checkups, using the right type of engine oil, using the recommended oil filter and having any unusual engine noises checked and repaired immediately are the best ways to prevent a timing chain problem from happening.