Symptoms of Bad Timing Chain Tensioner

Plenty of vehicles that need internal combustion engines use timing belts or timing chains. Without these components, a car won’t work the way it is supposed to.

In our article, we are going to talk about the most common symptoms of a failing timing belt. 

What Are Timing Chains?

Timing chains are vital for vehicles. They make the engine work, and if they fail, the chains can leave you stranded anywhere. It could be even worse because if they don’t work properly, several components of the engine will start malfunctioning. 

Variations Of Timing Chains

Nowadays you will find two variations of these components, the first one goes by the name of link chain, while the second one is named roller chain. 

The first models are fabricated with hardened and flat alloy steel that is held together by a few pressed pins. Each of them is able to adjust to the driving surfaces. 

Also, the link shape was designed to engage each sprocket smoothly. For this reason, it can also be named “silent chain”.

On the other hand, roller chains are very similar to bicycle chains when it comes to appearance, but they are stronger and larger, and more durable. Their design allows them to pass around smaller sprockets, meaning the demand for the link chain design will be less. 

For weaker engines, the roller chain could be of a specific configuration. Keep in mind that they are similar to the ones that the bicycles use. On the other hand, more powerful engines need a double row design. 

Moreover, roller chains tend to operate with high precision alloy steel sprockets. Meanwhile, timing chains are enclosed in a housing that is located on the front of the engines. 

This kind of housing and all of the chains are lubricated and need to wear particles flushed away by the oil system in the engine. 

Symptoms of Bad Timing Chain Tensioner

In recent years, the timing chain systems have evolved and they have become durable. But just like every other car component, they can fail, and we are going to discover how it can fail. 

1. Stretched timing chain 

Over time, the timing chain is going to stretch due to wear. Because of this, correct valve time will no longer work, and you will be able to notice it by an increase in the fuel consumption, or reduced power at low engine specs. 

A stretched chain will also produce more noise, and it will be evident with the hood open, but it could vary with engine speed. 

2. Worn timing chain 

This problem will have the exact symptoms of a stretched chain. In addition, both tensioner bearings and idlers may produce whirring sounds when the engine is working, and those sounds will grow louder with an increased engine speed. 

3. Worn chain guides 

This condition will produce a lot of noise. You could also notice chain rattles or clatter when the engine speed is low. 

3. Broken timing chain 

A visibly broken timing chain will likely produce the same symptoms as the timing chain coming off the sprockets. Also, engine damage will produce these failures. 

4. Engine light 

The check engine light could appear if valve timing exceeds the limits of emissions. If you ignore the warning, your car’s engine will fail soon, and the rest of its components alongside the engine. 

When To Replace A Bad Timing Chain?

Timing chain systems are specifically designed to endure as long as the car lasts. However, these chains don’t require a periodic replacement. Nonetheless, if you notice any of the symptoms that we included in today’s article, then you need to take your car to a qualified technician. 

Replacing the worn timing chains is not going to be cheap. But it’s better to do it instead of paying for a complete engine, or even a new car that might be required if the chains fail for good. 

Don’t let your timing chain tensioner fail. You should take your car for a professional inspection every once in a while to prevent the chains from failing. 

That is all for today. Keep your car safe and you won’t have to pay for a new one in such a short amount of time. 

Liam Dare

As CEO of, my passion for the automotive world motivates me to build online businesses that provide information and entertainment to users. I am proud to contribute in a positive way to the automotive community.