Does a timing malfunction always result in an engine overhaul?

Does a timing malfunction always result in an engine overhaul?

It takes approx. 4 minutes to read this article

Engine trouble is the diagnosis everyone fears the most. The culprit may turn out to be both the valve train and the unit, which does not cooperate to such an extent that it requires quick and proactive action. Does it have to end with engine overhaul every time? A car is first and foremost a practical tool and we can’t afford to be in a situation without a means of transportation

Timing system

To fully understand how important the role of the valve train is, you need to understand the conditions and principles of its operation. For example, when the tachometer indicates a not so high speed of 2000 rpm. This means that the crankshaft rotates as many as 33 times per second. Therefore, such a speed requires flawless synchronization of the rising and falling pistons with the opening and closing valves, whether it is 33 or 100 revolutions per second

The weakest link

It’s the arch-important task of synchronizing the engine’s operation that the valve train is responsible for. The inconspicuous timing belt is both the weakest link and one of the most important components in internal combustion engines. It is not only responsible for transmitting the drive from the crankshaft to the camshaft, but also synchronizes the operation of both components. As a result of breaking the belt or jumping a few teeth the valves usually collide with the pistons. You don’t have to be a specialist to know that such a failure can lead to serious engine damage

The aftermath of this defect is usually bent valves, damaged guides, rocker arms, tappets or even the head itself. In this case, the solution is an expensive repair or replacement of the drive unit

What affects the condition of the timing belt?

Among other things, timing belts can be damaged by contact with oil, fuel, dirt or excessive heat. Seized roller bearings and a defective water pump can also cause damage

The most common reasons for a belt breakage are oil leaks. It can also be a collision between valves and pistons. In addition, a defective tensioner or incorrect belt installation will just as often result in a timing belt failure. Therefore, if you decide to replace the belt or overhaul the engine, it is extremely important to entrust the replacement of this component to an experienced mechanic who can face this task. This is a thankless problem that in the vast majority of cases requires the disassembly of almost half of the car

Why not overhaul?

The engines of most cars over at least the last 30 years are built in such a way that wear and tear on components occurs in sync. Engine components have a statute of limitations date, after which one failure leads to a series of subsequent failures. It is easier and, above all, cheaper to buy a new car or replace an engine than to repair it. This translates into a massive used engine market.

The cost of a used engine is a small fraction of the amount you would have to spend on good quality repair parts, not to mention labor costs

Even if you decide to overhaul, you may find that the engine will perform noticeably worse than before, and you will spend further sums of money on repairs in the near future. This is nothing more than a profit and loss calculation; why invest in something with no guarantee of failure-free performance in the long term? Of course, the matter looks different when it is a classic car, or a car that is particularly close to your heart – in terms of sentimental value.

How to prepare for an engine replacement?

The most important thing is to know the type and code of the engine you are looking for, as well as its date of use. An engine replacement operation is not just about the cost of a new drive unit and replacement. The standard process is to replace all sorts of operating oils. Additionally, it will be reasonable to replace hard-to-replace gaskets or the timing belt and rollers

We would like to point out that all costs related to engine replacement will be incomparably lower than in the case of overhaul. Saving time will also turn out to be crucial – engine replacement is often a one-day job


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