Here is the latest reader question, along with my reply!
Mike asks: My question is, do you know why V6s have timing belts that require changing and V8s have timing chains that do not require change?
My reply: IIRC, the first American production engine to use a timing belt was actually a six! This was Pontiac’s overhead cam Sprint six, used in the late 1960s in cars like the Firebird. The advantage of the belt is light weight and low cost – this is probably why so many of the early Japanese and other import cars also had engines with timing belts. The problem with belts, of course, is that they generally require regular maintenance (replacement) at certain specific mileage intervals while timing chains usually last the life of the engine.
Interestingly, timing chains are making a comeback – and being used in small (four cylinder) engines made by import brands. I suspect the reason for this has to do with the timing belt’s replacement cost issues and also longevity/reliability issues. Cam/valve timing is emissions (and economy) critical and these are Very Big Deals these days, for every car company.
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Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!
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