What's the Difference Between a Timing Belt and a Timing Chain? Why Does It Matter?
The timing belt or chain synchronizes the timing of the engine. Though they serve the same purpose, the difference matters: timing belts will need to be replaced, while a timing chain might last for the lifespan of an engine. Knowing the difference is very important.
How Do Timing Belts and Chains Work?
Most modern engines are interference engines. This means that the valves and pistons occupy the same space in the cylinder--but at different times. In order to avoid hitting each other, they have to be timed perfectly. The timing belt or chain synchronizes the movements of the pistons and cylinders, keeping them from striking each other. Timing belts are lighter, quieter, and less cumbersome--but they're also less durable. If your vehicle has a timing belt, the rubber will wear down eventually; if it snaps, catastrophic engine damage may soon follow.
Does My Volkswagen Have a Belt or a Chain?
With this in mind, the important question becomes: does my Volkswagen have a timing belt or a timing chain? Your owner's manual should have the answer; take a look to discover which one your vehicle has. If you're having a hard time finding it, or if you want to double-check, you can always call an authorized Volkswagen dealership. Since the service technicians there are specifically trained to work with your VW, they'll be able to give you the information you need.