Timing chain replacement cost

Expect to pay up to $2,000 for a new timing chain

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Audi, BMW and Endurance Auto Warranty
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If your timing chain needs to be replaced, you're likely wondering what it’s going to cost:

  • The bad news is that replacing a timing chain is pretty expensive.
  • The good news is that your new timing chain may be covered by your vehicle's warranty.

Keep reading to find out what a timing chain replacement costs, what kind of help you can expect from your warranty, and what the key differences are between timing chains and timing belts.

Key insights

  • Timing chains usually cost between $1,600 and $2,000 to replace.
  • Luckily, timing chains have long life spans, and replacements are fairly rare.
  • A timing chain does the same job as a timing belt, but it’s metal, lives inside your engine and generally lasts much longer.
  • You can check whether your vehicle has a timing belt or a timing chain with a simple Google search.

How much does it cost to replace a timing chain?

Since timing chains are normally located inside engines, they tend to cost significantly more to replace than timing belts. RepairPal data suggests that the average timing chain replacement costs between $1,600 and $2,000. (About $950 to $1,200 of that is usually labor; parts reportedly average around $700.)

Your timing chain keeps your engine synchronized. When it fails, your engine can suffer major damage.

In some cases, you may also have to replace your timing chain tensioner — the part keeping the timing chain tight — for another $1,000 or more.

Before you get too upset about a potentially $3,000 surprise repair, there are two things to consider:

  1. Your timing chain should last a very long time — somewhere between 100,000 and 250,000 miles — as long as you keep up with regular oil changes.
  2. If your timing chain breaks prematurely, the entire repair may be covered under warranty.

Are timing chains covered under warranty?

Some warranties cover timing chains, but whether your timing chain replacement will be covered depends on your active coverage and the cause of the failure.

If your factory powertrain warranty is still active, timing chain issues stemming from defects in materials or workmanship should be covered. However, most automakers don’t provide powertrain coverage beyond five years or 60,000 miles from when your vehicle was new.

» CHECK YOUR STATUS: Car warranty check by VIN 

Likewise, an extended warranty can help cover the cost of a timing chain replacement for older vehicles out of their factory warranty periods, but it’s worth checking to make sure. (Extended warranty policies can vary significantly. Review what is and isn't covered before you buy.)

“My timing chain had begun to rattle, and I took it in to have it checked, and sure enough, my F150 needed timing work done on it,” reported a reviewer from Tennessee. “My mechanic was grateful to learn I had Endurance coverage, and Endurance worked with my mechanic in a seamless way. My truck is back and running great! It was a $4,000 job, of which Endurance covered $2,700.”

» SEE OUR TOP PICKS: Best Auto Warranty Companies

It’s important to note that warranties won’t cover every timing chain issue, though. If a defective part or poor workmanship causes your problem, you may be able to file a successful claim. However, if your timing chain fails due to normal wear and tear, it likely won't be covered.

Most policies also won't cover timing chain damage caused by a lack of proper maintenance. (That means skipping oil changes and other recommended services could ruin your coverage.) And extended warranties usually don’t cover preexisting conditions, so you’d theoretically need to buy a plan before your vehicle started having issues.

» MORE: What does a car warranty cover?

Quick and easy. Find an auto warranty partner now.

    What’s the difference between a timing belt vs. a timing chain?

    A timing belt is a long rubber loop that typically lives on the outside of your engine, wrapping itself around multiple components. If your vehicle has a timing belt, you can usually see it as soon as you pop the hood.

    Since timing belts are made from reinforced rubber, they tend to dry out and crack over time and won’t last the life of the car. Broadly speaking, you can expect to replace your timing belt every 60,000 to 100,000 miles.

    Timing chains perform the same function as a timing belt, but as their name implies, they’re made of metal instead of rubber. Timing chains also tend to live inside the engine and receive constant lubrication from your engine oil, further extending their life span.

    Do I have a timing belt or a timing chain?

    There’s no hard-and-fast rule about which vehicles have belts or chains. Generally speaking, though, most German brands (Audi, VW, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche) use timing chains, and the newer your vehicle is, the higher the likelihood that it has a chain instead of a belt.

    To find out whether you have a belt or a chain, you can try a few different routes:

    • Option 1: Perform a quick online search of your specific make, model, year and trim to find discussions of timing belts or chains. “The best way is probably just a quick Google search,” said Sean Kim, an Atlanta-area mechanic.
    • Option 2: Go and have a look under the hood. If you don’t see a belt on any side of the engine, chances are that you have a chain.
    • Option 3: Ask a mechanic that you trust or call up a shop specializing in your vehicle’s make to ask.
    • Option 4: Input your VIN into an online auto parts store and see if chains or belts come up.

    If a mechanic you don’t know particularly well has already told you that you need a new timing belt, we strongly recommend taking 10 minutes to confirm that your vehicle even has a timing belt to replace. We’ve heard multiple reports of consumers — mostly women — who have been told by shady dealers and mechanics they need to pay $1,000 or more to replace the timing belt on a vehicle that doesn’t even have one.

    “The service advisor at my dealership told me that I needed a new timing belt ASAP,” said one of those consumers. “When I told him that the 2013 Hyundai Elantra has a timing chain, he had a look on his face like he was caught red-handed. Needless to say, I never went back.”

    Article sources

    ConsumerAffairs writers primarily rely on government data, industry experts and original research from other reputable publications to inform their work. Specific sources for this article include:

    1. RepairPal, “Timing Chain Replacement Cost.” Accessed Feb. 21, 2024.
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