What Cars Have Timing Chains Instead of Timing Belts?

Cars that have timing chains instead of timing belts include the 2006 to 2016 Honda Civic, 2003 to 2016 Honda CR-V and Accord 2.4 and 2003 to 2011 Honda Element. Other cars with timing chains include the Toyota 2005 to 2012 Avalon V6, 1998 to 2012 4-cylinder Corolla and 2002 to 2012 4-cylinder Camry. Timing chains are maintenance-free and typically last as long as the engine. Mechanics generally change timing belts every 60,000 to 120,000 miles.

Timing chains and timing belts connect the crankshafts and camshafts in four-stroke engines. Chains and belts are essential in maintaining the mechanical timing of crankshaft and camshaft rotation. Crankshafts and camshafts control how the valves and pistons move inside of an engine’s cylinders. Car engines do not run smoothly if the mechanical timing of their crankshafts and camshafts is out of sync. Car manufacturers use metal or plastic timing covers to protect the chains and belts from dirt and other damaging conditions that can interfere with the timing mechanisms.

Timing chains were the standard in almost all four-stroke engines until 1966, when Pontiac introduced its straight-six, overhead-cam engine design. The new design featured a timing belt made of rubber, instead of a metal timing chain. To give timing belts extra strength and durability, manufacturers often weave Kevlar or fiberglass into the rubber. Unlike timing chains, timing belts eventually wear out.