How Long Can You Drive With A Bad Driving Chain? [Things to Know]

A timing chain is very important when starting cars. It maintains the car’s camshaft and crankshaft rotating at the same speeds. 

This would allow the engine valves to open and close in sync. A timing chain ensures a correct ratio of fuel and air mixture inside your engine for ignition.

This article aims to help you determine the possible causes of a bad driving chain, how long you can drive with one, and how you can deal with it afterward.

Signs of A Failing Timing Chain

YouTube video

The video starts immediately with the first sign of hearing a rattling noise when starting up your car. Normally, the noise is heard when the engine starts up or is left idle. 

There is noise because there is a stretched timing chain and a worn timing tensioner. 

The next sign is from checking the oil inside the oil pan. If there are metal and plastic shavings inside the plate, it is a sign of a breaking driving chain. 

Additionally, the timing chain could jump when the driving chains fail due to wear and tension. This would indicate a risk that the timing inside your engine could be thrown-off due to the worn chain jumping a tooth. 

A wrong timing could lead to your engine valves opening and closing at the wrong times, making inappropriate ratios for the gas-air mixture in the engine.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you drive a car with a defective driving chain?

A car with a bad timing chain would stop all processes immediately. The proper operation of the engine is highly dependent on the driving chain. 

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Once your driving chain breaks, your car will immediately stop wherever you are. 

If the driving chain breaks, the valve and piston will crash, causing serious damage to the different parts of your engine, mainly the cylinders and the camshaft. 

These repairs are serious as they are very expensive to do. Meanwhile, if your car has a non-interference engine, you would be lucky as your car’s engine would only stop and not deal serious damage to your vehicle.

If your car has a defective driving chain with signs like clunky engine noise and engine lights turning on, you would still be able to drive your car. 

Although this is highly improper, it would mean risking your engine further when your driving chain finally breaks. You would have to go to a mechanic when it finally gives up and breaks.

How long can you drive with a bad driving chain?

As mentioned above, you would still be able to drive even with a bad driving chain, but it is extremely risky. Some cars go for just around 5 minutes, while others can go up to 30 minutes with their chains still intact. 

Keep in mind that your driving chain will likely break the more you drive your car. The more you risk it, the worse your engine might end off after your chain finally breaks. 

What are the indicators of a bad chain?

There is no actual counter or meter when your chain will go bad. Drivers usually go around tens of thousands of miles before replacing their chains. 

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Most drivers are against changing their chains immediately as it would cost them around $300 – $1000.

The common symptoms of a failing chain would be the following:

  • The metal present in the oil changing plate
  • Engine lights turning on
  • Failed or misfiring engine
  • Rattling sounds when turning on the car

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