Forum Fix: Timing Chain Replacement

Timing chains are one of those parts that no one wants to think about – and most of us ignore until it starts leaking or breaks and starts damaging the engine. For this ForumFix, we’re going to take a closer look at one user who wants to know whether or not he should just change his entire timing assembly once he takes the cover off to deal with a leak. What causes this kind of problem, and what common timing chain issues should you be on the lookout for?

GunnerSchneck’s Leaking Timing Cover

When your timing cover leaks, the first step is to figure out where the leak is coming from.  Forum user GunnerSchneck did just that – first removing the water and power steering pumps, then the timing cover.

The question is this – should he bother replacing all the timing components while he has the cover off?

One question that he didn’t answer was where the timing cover was leaking from – was it the gasket on the cover itself leaking, or was the leak coming from somewhere else?

A Leaky Shaft Seal

The shaft seal, in place behind the timing components, is designed to keep your engine oil inside the crank case. In most engines, it’s a simple thing to replace the shaft seal – pop the old one out, pop the new one in and reassemble the parts in reverse order. In some engines, especially those that have exceeded 100,000 miles. Another user, wmburns, found that it can sometimes be a little more complicated. The old seal can create a groove in the crankcase, meaning that even putting in a new seal won’t help stop the leak.

Thankfully, that leak has a simple solution – redi-sleeve.  “The purpose of a redi sleeve is to restore the flat sealing surface for the new seal to seal against,” said wmburns. Instead of finding a gasket that will fit your worn seal surface, the redi-sleeve makes the job easier.

GunnerSchenck’s Mustang has 144,000 miles on it, and the general consensus is that if your engine has more than 150,000 miles on it, then it’s time to change the timing chain, whether they start rattling or not.

Common Timing Chain Problems

The trick with timing chains is to get ahead of the problem – a broken timing chain can do a lot of damage and end up being an expensive repair.

Common signs include harsh noises, especially when you’re starting the engine, squealing noises while you’re driving, or an engine that runs rough when all other problems have been solved. An oil leak around the timing cover can also be a good sign that there is a problem with your timing system.

Keep an eye on your mileage, too.

Your timing chain is just one of the many components that are designed to keep your engine running smoothly.  Generally, if your timing chain isn’t failing, it doesn’t need to be replaced until you hit that upper mileage mark but keep an ear out when you’re under the hood to give you a heads up if there are problems cropping up beneath that timing cover.

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