Does my car have a cambelt or timing chain?

By Julia Freeman

Whenever you’re waiting to make a turn or you’ve stopped at a red light, your car is idling. Experienced car drivers will know what vibrations feel normal for their vehicle. However, there may be times when the vibrations become loud, rattling, or make your car shake. Whether you need car servicing because of a sudden noise or increasing levels of shaking, here are the principal reasons as to why your car might be shaking when idle.

A cambelt is located outside the engine. The camshaft and crankshaft cogs and the belt will be secured behind a cover, nevertheless you will probably be able to see where it is with a visual inspection. Conversely, if your vehicle uses a steel timing chain, the assembly is immersed in oil inside the engine, so there will be no covered compartment attached to the engine block.

Never neglect your oil changes and car servicing

Belts are quieter and (usually) easier to service, but their shorter lifespan is a disadvantage. In our experience, you can often tell when a stretched chain needs replacing because the car becomes noisier and under-powered. The engine warning light may come on. Worn belts, on the other hand, can snap without any warning.
 
Whenever a belt or chain snaps at speed, it usually destroys the engine – completely. Cambelt and timing chain problems are something to avoid in advance, not something you can have fixed after they break.
 
Vehicle manuals usually suggest fitting replacement belts at about 50,000 miles (or 5-10 years), and at 100,000+ miles if you have a chain – however, it is important to understand these are very loose estimates. Your driving style, history of oil changes, and the terrain you drive over make a big difference to how well they last. On the other hand, you don’t want to replace them much too soon because they are relatively difficult and expensive jobs.
 
Therefore, the best solution by far is to conduct regular oil checks and car servicing. That way you can be sure of getting the maximum safe mileage.
 

Engine oil

Checking the level of your oil, especially before and after long journeys, should be a routine for all drivers. Depending on your model and driving conditions, you can need a full oil replacement in as little as 1000 miles. Stop-go traffic queues, numerous short trips, and heavy loads take their toll on oil.
 
Newer car models driven on open roads can go as far as 15,000 miles on synthetic oils but rarely further. Years of experience tell us it is not worth taking a chance with your oil, so call a Protyre garage for a professional oil check at least twice a year.

Budgeting for car maintenance

Regular car servicing is cheap, breakdowns aren’t. Regular servicing helps you keep track of when you will need to replace your key components and consumables, such as oils, tyres, and cambelts. That means you can easily budget for them. We have a range of servicing packages to suit your budget as well as combined MOT and servicing deals, giving you peace of mind motoring for the year ahead.

Book with Protyre

Our website makes it easy for you to find your local Protyre garage and consult with one of our experienced teams. You can also browse the many tyre choices online, exploring your options and setting your budget in advance of your fitting appointment. Our broad range of tyres includes both budget and performance brands from Pirelli, Continental, Bridgestone, Michelin, Avon, Sumitomo, and Falken and all prices include fitting.
 
We have mobile tyre fitting units in many of our centres for anyone who cannot get to a garage, or we can arrange a collect and deliver service if you speak with your local centre manager.

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About the author

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By Julia Freeman
Julia is Head of Retail Marketing for Protyre and loves engaging with customers and the business as a whole to make sure Protyre is more than just a local garage.
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