The Average Cost to Replace a Timing Chain Is $659 to $1,867 Depending on if You Go to the Mechanic or DIY.
This price range is based on national averages for all vehicles and does not factor in taxes, fees, or your particular make and model. Related repairs or maintenance, such as a valve cover gasket, may also be needed. For a more accurate estimate cost of replacing a timing chain based on your make, model, and location, use the RepairPal Fair Price Estimator.
Get a more accurate estimate for your timing chain replacement using RepairPal’s Fair Price Estimator:
Cost at the Mechanic: $1,613 to $1,867
- Parts: $659 to $663
- Labor: $954 to $1,203
Replacing the timing chain is a complex and time-consuming process that requires partial disassembly of your engine. Additionally, an error in setting the timing correctly could result in pistons hitting valves, at which point the entire engine needs to be rebuilt or replaced. For these reasons, we recommend having your timing chain replaced by a mechanic. The additional cost of their labor is still less than the cost of a new or rebuilt engine, and you’ll know it will be done correctly.
Cost to DIY: $659 to $663
- DIY Difficulty Level: Advanced
- Parts Needed:
If you do decide to tackle this job yourself, invest in a complete timing chain kit for your particular engine. This will include not only the chain, but also any tensioners, guides, pulleys, and other parts that need to be replaced at the same time. Be extremely careful to set the timing correctly when you install the new chain. A mistake here could destroy your engine, so be sure to get it right the first time.
What Is a Timing Chain?
The timing chain inside your engine connects the crankshaft to your camshafts. Camshafts open and close the intake and exhaust valves at precisely the correct time during the combustion process inside the cylinders. Overall, replacing the timing chain and its associated hardware should take a qualified mechanic 5 to 8 hours to complete.
What Does Replacing a Timing Chain Include?
Unlike a timing belt, it’s normally not the chain itself that wears out first, but the tensioners and guides that keep it in its proper position. The chain itself does wear, so all of these parts get replaced during this job. The sprockets on the crankshaft and camshafts also get replaced, since they wear along with the chain. Read our complete cost guide here to learn how much it could cost to replace your camshaft sensor.
What Happens If You Don’t Replace the Timing Chain?
Over time, chain guides can wear out, and tensioner springs can get weak. Either one of these allows the chain to come loose, which causes a metallic clanking sound inside the engine. This could cause your camshaft timing to go wrong, resulting in a check engine light. If a chain guide wears out far enough, it can break, and the debris can cause further damage inside your engine. For the quickest, easiest way to not only reset your check engine light, read our full detailed guide on it here.
Worst case, the chain may get so loose that it skips across the camshaft gears, drastically changing the timing. The engine may run rough, or not at all. In some engines it’s even possible that pistons will smash into valves that are open when they’re not supposed to be, requiring either a rebuild or replacement of the entire engine.
How Often to Replace the Timing Chain
Timing chains last a long time, which helps to offset the expense of replacing them. Depending on the engine, the timing chain (and related components) should be replaced roughly every 80,000 to 120,000 miles. Check the manufacturer-recommended maintenance schedule in your car’s owner’s manual or in the FIXD app to find out exactly when your car needs this service. Click here to see what else the FIXD app has to offer.
Common Symptoms You Need to Replace the Timing Chain
- Check engine light
- Misfires or poor running
- A metallic rattling inside the engine
- Metal shavings in the oil
- Engine won’t start or run at all
Related Maintenance Services
Basically, any component associated with the timing chain should get replaced at the same time. Exactly what components these are depends on the design of your engine. For example, if the timing chain also drives your water pump, it should be replaced along with the chain. It may still be good, but accessing it requires much of the same work as replacing the timing chain. Replacing it while you’re already in there saves both the time and the cost of the additional labor of doing it separately.
Claim Your Custom Maintenance Schedule
Get the FIXD Sensor and free app today for a custom maintenance schedule based on your make, model, and mileage. Never miss important maintenance again with automated maintenance alerts! Learn more at fixdapp.com.
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Recovering autocross and track day enthusiast. Once turned a VW Jetta into a pickup truck. Lives in a van down by the river. Dream car: 2001 Subaru WRC rally car.