At some point every car owner whose engine has a timing belt will need to replace that belt -- either as part of regular maintenance or when it breaks and leaves them stranded. This begs the question: If a vehicle has a timing chain, when does it need to be replaced? What is the difference between the two?
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The job of the timing belt or chain
A timing belt or chain is a part of a combustion engine that controls the timing of the engine's valves. The belt or chain transfers the rotation of the crankshaft to the camshaft. The camshaft activates the valves, which provides air and fuel to the cylinders.
A timing belt is made of rubber and has notched teeth, which help it grip the camshaft. Because the timing belt is rubber, over time is will stretch, or dry out, and eventually break. Most automakers suggest replacing the timing belt about every 100,000 miles. If a timing belt breaks, it can cause internal engine damage when it comes apart. It will also bring the vehicle to a halt and leave the driver stranded wherever it breaks.
A timing chain performs the same function as a timing belt, but is made out of metal and looks similar to a bicycle chain. Although these chains have been known to stretch under extreme conditions, they virtually never snap the way a rubber timing belt can. The issue with timing chains is that the guides or sprockets in the engine can become worn away, causing the chain to "jump" and as such it is helpful to have timing chains adjusted every 100,000 miles.
Mercedes Benz C280
The Mercedes Benz C280, like all Mercedes Benz models, has a timing chain.
Replacing a timing chain
Although timing chains are more durable than timing belts, after several hundred thousand miles, it may be time to replace the timing chain as well. Signs that it might be necessary for a replacement include a rough idle, sluggish pick up, a sudden change in the engine's performance, and a clanging noise coming from the front of the engine.
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