A timing chain will supposedly last for the lifetime of the car in an average passenger car, but a timing belt will need to be changed at least 3 times, if not more during the lifespan of such a car. Why would timing belts be used in any car, ever, given how time-consuming/costly the procedure of changing one is?

The only reasonable justification I've managed to find researching online is that a timing belt "is quieter", but I have a 2005 Ford Mondeo with a timing chain myself and I cannot say it is noticeably louder in any way compared to other cars I have previously had that had timing belts instead. I also did read something about timing belts requiring more oil, but so what? Surely the cost of the oil for the lifetime of the would only be a fraction of the cost of paying for changing the timing belt 3+ times?

What I am looking for here mostly is not mechanical explanations as to how timing chains are more complicated and when things go wrong with them they will go more wrong than with belts. From the perspective of the average car owner, why would anyone ever want to buy a car with a timing belt? Based on all the information I have the average belt/chain-related maintenance cost of a car over its lifetime will be lower for one with a chain than for one with a belt.

So to summarize : Why are cars with timing belts still produced and who would want to buy them, from a maintenance cost perspective only?

  • You seem muddle things up all the way through: timing belts don’t need oil. A timing chain lasts the lifetime of the car but needs changing 3 times. Get your arguments straight so we know what you are talking about. And belts are used so the engines can rev faster ie rate of change due to the lower mass involved.
    – Solar Mike
    Nov 14, 2020 at 12:47
  • It's very difficult to follow your question. Please edit it and take out all the irrelevant commentary and self-contradictions.
    – jwh20
    Nov 14, 2020 at 13:46
  • Having destroyed two engines on "average passenger cars" when timing chains broke, I agree with "supposedly" in the first sentence. (Ironically, the second failure was during a test drive of a car I was considering buying!)
    – alephzero
    Nov 14, 2020 at 14:52

1 Answer 1


I would prefer chains, my experience with them has been excellent. I expect it is less cost to engineer and use a belt ,particularly with the longer lengths requires for overhead cams. I have only had one belt , when I bought the '85 300 ZX , I didn't even know it had a belt. I had seen many chains ( V-8 rocker arms ) and never a belt. I don't remember replacing it was big job except I forgot to get new camshaft seals ( stores were closed when I needed them). Subsequently , I have had chains ( Nissan 5.6 V8 and 3.5 V6 ) . But belts can be good if you change them on schedule yourself.

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