Timing chains, not to be confused with timing belts, don't need frequent changing.

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Jul 01, 1993

Dear Tom and Ray:

I have a 1989 Buick Park Avenue with a 3800 cc engine and 85,000 miles on it. The car runs great, but a service manager told me that these engines are prone to having their timing chains break at 100,000 miles or so. He recommends replacing it now. Is this a legitimate recommendation, or it someone trying to drum up some business?

TOM: Sounds like the service manager has a boat payment coming due, Duane.

RAY: Timing chains do break, but they often go well over 100,000 miles before they do. And it's not unusual for a timing chain to go 150,000 miles without any problem.

TOM: The biggest factor is how you drive. We cover this in our new pamphlet called "Ten Ways You May Be Ruining Your Car Without Even Knowing It" (and by the way, anyone can get a copy by sending $3 to....).

RAY: If you drive gently and accelerate gently, the timing chain can last as long as you own the car. On the other hand, if you're always slamming your foot on the gas, you could break the timing chain in a lot less than 100,000 miles.

TOM: And by the way, you should be careful not to confuse timing CHAINS with timing BELTS. All cars have either one or the other (they both do the same thing). Smaller cars tend to use timing BELTS, which are lighter and cheaper. But unlike timing chains, timing BELTS do need to be checked periodically, and replaced every 60,000 miles.

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