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Timing Chain Replacement - Is it worth it?

  • 03-09-2021 11:17pm
    Registered Users Posts: 133 ✭✭ mark2912

    I have a 2010 VW Golf, with a 1.2 TSI engine which uses a timing chain rather than a timing belt.

    It has 177,500km on the clock, which by no means is considered low mileage. This is my first car, as I only passed my test in January, so I intend to keep this car for at least another four or five years before upgrading.

    It's NCT is next month, and while I will have it serviced beforehand, I am half considering having the timing chain replaced at the same time.

    I understand that timing chains generally last forever, unlike timing belts which usually have to be replaced after so many KM etc.., but would it be worth having the chain replaced? Given the car's mileage and my intending to use it for a few more years.....



  • Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 27,621 Mod ✭✭✭✭ Cass

    If you're on 177,500km and intend on keeping the car for the foreseeable future then there is absolutely no harm in doing it. If for nothing else peace of mind knowing its good for at least another 200,000km. Timing chains last longer than belts, but not indefinitely. A belt, depending on make/model is usually done every 60,000 miles with some recommending it be done at up to 100,000 miles. Chains can last a little longer (120,000 miles) or much longer (up to 250,000+). However manufacturer recommendations should not be taken as Gospel.

    I remember a Jeep I had and the manufacturer said the chain would last 300,000km. My timing chain needed done at 186,000km, but luckily was covered under warranty (€2,500 cost). The garage told me I'm not the first in well before the recommended mileage, and infact no one had made it to the 300,000 without getting the tell tale signs of a loosening chain.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 5,729 ✭✭✭ jmreire

    And a lot will depend on it being serviced correctly and on time ( or even before time for oil changes / filters) I've heard of MB OM 651 engines doing mega-mileages' trouble free regarding timing chains, but also a fair few giving problems. The only positive about the OM651 chains is that they give a bit of warning IE: rattling noise on startup when cold. Then you have the BMW N47 fiasco, where they went in the blink of an eye, and took the engine with them. If I was in the OP position, and with the view if holding on to the car, I'd get it done.

  • Registered Users Posts: 133 ✭✭ mark2912

    Does anybody know roughly how much this would cost?

    With it being a small car and small engine size (1.2L), I can't see it being too expensive....

  • Registered Users Posts: 12,939 ✭✭✭✭ Toyotafanboi

    A 1.2 TSi with 177k kms will undoubtedly already have had the chain already done. They were terribly troublesome and most failed very early in their lives.

    If your car is starting from cold with no rattling, i wouldn't touch it.

    There is also a slightly different process to changing the oil on these to prevent **** the chain, so make sure your workshop know what they are doing. Most places should be familiar with them by now.

  • Registered Users Posts: 133 ✭✭ mark2912

    The car didn't come with its service history book, strangely enough.... So I have no idea if the chain was ever replaced.

    Is there any way of finding out?

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  • Registered Users Posts: 2,773 ✭✭✭ Timing belt

    With that millage I would be very surprised if it was not changed before.

    The first signs of it needing to be replaced is a rattle coming from the engine when it starts from cold. If there is a rattle and you notice that the car millage in the car deteriorating it is probably down to the chain jumping a tooth due to a stretched chain.

    If you are in doubt at all I would get it changed because if the chain did snap (Which is common in these cars) you can say goodbye to the engine as it would need to be either totally rebuilt or replaced with a new engine.

    p.s. It is also important that the oil is maintained as low oil pressure can lead to issues with the chain tensioner.

  • Registered Users Posts: 133 ✭✭ mark2912

    Thankfully there aren't any of these signs, such as a rattling noise.

    I'll be having it serviced in October before its NCT, so the oil and filters etc will all be changed then.

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,729 ✭✭✭ jmreire

    Well, if you do go ahead with the timing chain replacement, you might keep us informed on what was the condition of the old chain?

  • Registered Users Posts: 133 ✭✭ mark2912

    Just thought I'd upload a pic of underneath the bonnet.

    The lid/casing around the engine seems to be missing... (Usually a black plastic cover with the VW logo or "TSI")

    Could this be an indication that the timing chain was replaced at some stage?

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    Check that area, under that cover is the timing. 1 indication is the bolts itself. If somebody was working there, you should notice it. Also look carefully around the engine compartment. Sometimes they mark it to random place. Only question, why you made the serpentine belt picture? Yes that belt have a line on top side, like something came lose and rubbing the belt (completely off topic safety statement).

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  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 43,968 CMod ✭✭✭✭ magicbastarder

    I intermittently get what has been interpreted as/mistaken for (possibly) the cold start rattle for about two seconds on mine (2012 1.2TSi), but it's only happened twice since the last service about 5 months ago. One mechanic suggested that it could be very brief oil starvation - those small TSIs use a thin oil - so it might just drain from the higher parts of the engine I guess (my interpretation, not his). Has never lasted any more than two seconds when it has happened, and apparently if it is a with timing chain it'd be progressive and last longer and longer before the engine settles to a normal note. Given the cost of chain replacement, I'm going to leave it for now unless the noise gets worse.

    It mightn't be a coincidence that it effectively disappearing since the last service was that I believe that mechanic uses decent oil. Couldn't tell you what the previous lads had been putting in.

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    Over 5 months ago there was not that problem? Is it possible the oil filter anti-drain valve is leaking?

  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 43,968 CMod ✭✭✭✭ magicbastarder

    couldn't tell you unfortunately, i wouldn't know enough to check - but i've had the car about 4 years now and it was happening when i first got it (bought it from my father). interestingly, it's most likely to happen after the car has been driven a short distance, stopped, and restarted - e.g. a run to the bottle bank which is less than 1km away. as mentioned, it's happened twice in the last five months - once, that was after i'd dropped it down to have the rear springs replaced so the car would have last been driven 50m from the workshop to the car park. the other time was when we were parked nose up on a very steep hill in cork, so i don't know if the steep angle was a factor or not.

  • Registered Users Posts: 133 ✭✭ mark2912

    Funny enough, when I started the car today, these symbols (wrench and clock with 20) appeared on the display for a second before returning to the usual mileage amount. I had to restart the car a few times just to take a decent picture. I'm guessing the symbol inicates that a service is due in 2900km? But what does the clock and the number 20 mean?

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    It is days countdown. 20 days until service. I do not say "it is not so important" because oil is cheap and engine repair or replacement cost a big money. Preventive maintenance is ok. I know, now some guys come and say how they use the maximum kilometers and even way more. You are on your car boss and it is completely your decision. Can I ask what service interval you used before?

  • Registered Users Posts: 133 ✭✭ mark2912

    This is my first car and I only have it since February, so this will be my first time servicing it myself. It didn't come with its service history book so I don't know when it was last serviced.

  • Registered Users Posts: 357 ✭✭ Roger the cabin boy

    2010 is end-of-life.

    Anything you do to it won't make it any more valuable.

    Just keep the oil topped up, change the oil filter and use good quality oil and you will likely be fine.

    I imagine the arse will fall out of the suspension or electrics long before the chain gives up.

    It's a biggish job as well.

    Not worth it, nor something to worry about.

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    1 suggestion for the future. If you buy the car, always replace all fluids. Even if car owner says everything is replaced, do not buy that story. It is only for increasing the car value and may not performed at all. All fluids is next: engine oil, gearbox oil, transfer case oil (if installed), axle oil (if installed), brake fluid, coolant (if blue color), power steering oil (if installed and use the oil). Always ask the car recent history. If car was not driven long time, need to replace the timing belt (if belt driven timing). The good preventive and relative cheap service is the spark plugs (perol car) and air filter. If you are so far, replace the cabin filter too.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,052 ✭✭✭ John.G

    Have a read of this. Also see photos (courtesy of George Dalton), when the timing chain keeps stretching the hydraulic tensioner finally extends fully so no more tensioning. Its a pity there's no way of being able to observe the tensioner to see how far it has extended.

    There was a 124TSI Passat in my family for 12 years and it gave absolutely no trouble, I used to change the oil yearly at approx 16,000 mile intervals.

    Passat 1.4 TSI - Timing Chain — - Now Ye're Talkin'

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,052 ✭✭✭ John.G

    "Only/mainly" the twin charger (discontinued) engine I think.

    Post edited by John.G on

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