Finding the Right Timing Chain Tensioner
Thanks to your vehicle's timing chain tensioner, your engine motor works right on time, giving you enough power whenever you want to go fast. The timing chain tensioner ensures that your timing chain is consistent, efficient, and has enough tension to keep it going. Overtime, your tensioner can get damaged due to its constant exposure to extreme under-the-hood conditions like heat and moisture. And after some time, it may develop rust, which can make it snap if left unchecked. If your factory tensioner is broken, this can cause your timing chain to malfunction or slip. Inevitably, your engine motor will not work properly and this will lead to a backfire. When worse comes to worst, your engine might not run at all. If you are currently dealing a broken tensioner in your ride, you'd better address it right away to prevent the problem from getting out of hand.
Before you go and spend your hard-earned money on a new component, make sure you verify the source of the glitch first. There are several types of timing chain tensioners in your assembly and you can find them in the following locations:
- Passenger side
- Passenger side-upper
- Driver side
- Driver side-upper
- Driver side-lower
- Upper right
- Upper left
You will find a lot of OEM brands that offer tensioners at prices ranging from 20 to 30 USD. If you want to save some cash, look for a product that comes with its own mounting hardware. Also, remember to buy from a brand with a reputation that you can rely on. Some of the most trusted brands in the industry today include Beck Arnley, Dorman, Mahle, and Mopar.
- It's advisable to change your timing chain after every 200,000 miles and when you do this, don't forget to change your tensioner as well.
- Having a bad timing chain tensioner in your system can be a bit hard to determine since you need to have a good pair of ears. The key is to watch out for a rattling noise every time you start your car and during acceleration.
How to Install a New Timing Chain Tensioner
Your ride's timing chain tensioner may give out as early as 20,000 miles, so before you experience any problems while you drive, the best thing you can do is perform maintenance checkups on your system. If it's too late and you need to replace your current one right away, you'd better invest in a good replacement to get started with your repairs. The symptoms of a faulty or malfunctioning tensioner are quite easy to spot. For instance, if you've been driving for a while and your engine has already become warm or hot, you might hear rattling noises once you start your car again. You'll also notice that this sound will eventually go away after a while. If this problem is left unchecked, your timing chain might suddenly jump and cause your engine components to go berserk. Get your vehicle back on track by following the instructions provided below.
Difficulty Level: Moderate
What You'll Need:
- Hex bolt
- Metric socket set
- Metric wrench set
- Philips screwdriver
- Needle nose pliers
- Motor oil
- Rags or paper towels
- Replacement timing chain tensioner
Step 1: To gain access to your timing chain tensioner, remove your air filter by pulling it out. After that, get your airbox out of the way by unbolting it using a socket and removing its clips. Set both components aside.
Step 2: Next, locate your timing chain tensioner that's positioned at the left side of the engine near the exhaust manifold. Before uninstalling it, don't forget to put some rags or paper towels on top of the oil filter to prevent it from spilling oil while you're taking the tensioner out.
Step 3: Use a socket to loosen the bolts that are holding the tensioner in place. Once the bolts are out, pry the tensioner out by twisting and pulling it to pop. Be very careful while doing this to avoid getting other components in your assembly damaged.
Step 4: Get your replacement tensioner and dab some motor oil on its o-rings. Bolt in your new tensioner and tighten it until attachment is secure.
Step 5: Once you're done installing your new timing chain tensioner, pull its cotter pin using the hex. This will cause the piston to pop into place. After that, replace your hex bolt with a new one.
Step 6: To wrap it up, remove the rags or paper towels that you placed on top of the oil filter earlier, and reattach your air box by bolting it back.
Timing Chain Tensioner Buyer’s Guide
- Flawless timing is needed to ensure that your engine will operate smoothly.
- The timing chain’s job is to guarantee that the engine valves open and close at the right time.
- The timing chain tensioner is the part that provides the correct tension of the timing belt.
- Typically, the timing chain tensioner and timing chain lasts at least 120,000 miles.
- Sludge buildup and a worn-out timing chain can cause the failure of the timing chain tensioner.
- Rattling noise, engine misfires, and engine going into limp mode are some of the most common symptoms of a bad timing chain tensioner.
- Regular inspection is needed to ensure that a broken timing chain tensioner can be immediately replaced, preventing it from causing severe engine damage.
- The price of an aftermarket timing chain tensioner is usually from $5 up to $1,500.
Timing is crucial in your vehicle’s engine. Everything must be in the right position at the right time to ensure its smooth operation. To guarantee that the engine’s timing is flawless, the timing chain is used to synchronize the rotation of the camshaft and crankshaft with the movement of the valves and pistons. However, in order to do this, the timing chain must have proper tension all the time. The part that is responsible for this is the timing chain tensioner.
What is a timing chain tensioner?
The timing chain tensioner is the device that provides the necessary amount of pressure or tension on the timing chain through hydraulic pressure or spring tension. By doing this, the timing chain can properly control the opening and closing of the different engine valves through the movement of the crankshaft and camshaft. This ensures that enough air is let in for the combustion process to go smoothly and that exhaust gases are immediately discharged out of the engine.
How long does a timing chain tensioner last?
Typically, the timing chain tensioner lasts until at least 120,000 miles. It’s possible that your vehicle could travel a considerable distance before you need to replace the tensioner. However, your driving habits as well as the weather conditions that you regularly drive in can affect the lifespan of the timing chain tensioner. There are cases where the device already requires changing after 30,000 or 50,000 miles, which is significantly shorter when compared to the average service life of the tensioner.
What can cause the timing chain tensioner to fail?
There are several reasons why the timing chain tensioner breaks down. If the timing chain is worn out, it can also cause the failure of the timing chain tensioner as well as the other guides that are connected to it. This will lead to the failure of the whole timing chain assembly. Sludge buildup can also wear out the timing chain tensioner.
Symptoms of a bad timing chain tensioner
If the right amount of pressure in the timing belt is not maintained, the engine will not function properly. That’s why it’s crucial to replace the timing chain tensioner once you have noticed the following symptoms.
Rattling noise from the engine
If the timing chain tensioner is faulty, it also means that there is not enough pressure on the timing chain. A loose timing chain can cause vibrations, which produce the rattling noise coming from the engine. The timing chain tensioner noise is more noticeable when the engine is at idle. So before the timing chain breaks, make sure you change your bad part with a timing chain tensioner replacement.
Difficulty starting the engine
If there’s a problem with the timing chain tensioner, it can also affect the timing chain’s function. The opening and closing of the intake and exhaust valves won’t be as efficient as it should be. You might find it difficult to start the engine when this happens.
Your engine can also misfire if the timing chain tensioner isn’t doing its job. The timing chain must have enough pressure to ensure that it won’t slip or miss a gear on the camshaft or crankshaft. Once it does due to a faulty timing chain tensioner, the engine’s timing will be off, resulting in an engine misfire.
Engine going into limp mode
The vehicle’s computer will know if there’s a problem in the engine’s timing. It can activate limp mode when this happens. This means that some less important parts of your car would be turned off like the air conditioning system and your vehicle’s speed will be limited. This is a failsafe mechanism that basically prevents further damage to the engine.
Check engine light
If the engine doesn’t go into limp mode when there’s a problem with the engine’s timing, the check engine light may illuminate. It could send multiple codes such as crankshaft sensor, camshaft sensor, and engine misfire error codes. To fix this, you need to ensure the timing chain will function properly by replacing your broken timing chain tensioner.
How can you prevent the timing chain tensioner from failing?
There’s no easy way to ensure that the timing chain tensioner is always in good working condition. What you can do, however, is to perform regular inspection of the tensioner so you can quickly replace it when it’s faulty. Doing this can save your engine from severe damage caused by a loose timing chain.
Additionally, you should always find out the root cause of some of the peculiar signs or symptoms that you notice in your vehicle. If you are hearing strange noises from the engine, for example, this could be a sign that the timing chain tensioner is failing. Make sure to check if the tensioner is working properly or not. By doing this, you can change the part when it’s faulty, which can save you from bigger car problems in the future.
How much does a timing chain tensioner replacement cost?
The price range of an aftermarket timing chain tensioner is from $5 up to $1,500. You can purchase this device as a single part, in sets of two, or part of an assembly. Most aftermarket timing chain tensioners are designed as OE Replacement parts, which means they can directly replace your factory-installed tensioner. On top of that, these aftermarket components are typically backed by a product warranty to ensure consumer protection.
Finding the right fit
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