The INA chain drive – will the chain last the entire life of the car?


The INA chain drive – will the chain last the entire life of the car?

The market share of engines with timing chains is set to increase significantly in the future. Currently, the ratio is about 50:50 (belts to chains). Industry experts predict that the chain will achieve around 80% share in 2030. Based on the assumption that around 30% of new registrations will be electric and the proportion of diesel vehicles will reduce signficantly, the number of belt-driven camshafts could fall to 15%.

In the case of internal combustion engines, whether a chain or toothed belt is used in the timing drive is a question for the car manufacturers, that depends on many factors:

Traditionally, belt drives tend to be found more often in diesel engines, while many petrol engines use a chain drive. As the trend is toward ever smaller mounting spaces, chains will benefit since they are narrower than belts. Chains can also transmit higher forces. Variable camshaft timers also benefit from the chain drive, since they can be combined with a chain more easily.

Will the chain last the entire life of the car?

In modern internal combustion engines, the chain drive is designed to last the lifetime of a vehicle. In practice, it's a different story. This is because of age-related and use-dependent wear. Often, the cause is poor-quality oil or a failure to observe oil change intervals. But the vehicle owner or driver can also affect the life of the chain drive: Additional wear is also caused by continually placing maximum demand on a cold engine over short distances. Fine soot particles in the oil behave like sandpaper and wear the chain much faster. The chain will elongate as a result.

During an oil change, workshops can perform an engine flush before filling with fresh oil, which completely removes dirt and oil deposits from the engine. When querying fault codes in the engine control unit using a diagnostic tool, a workshop may find the following possible entries: Implausible crank angle sensor signal or implausible camshaft locator signal.

The first sign of damage to the chain drive is usually a rattling noise coming from the engine. In the case of a significantly elongated chain, a loss of power or even shaking of the vehicle can be felt. The elongated timing chain means that the engine timing is no longer uniform. In addition, the tooth flanks of the toothed gears are not properly engaged within the chain and the flanks wear more quickly.

However, a flashing engine check lamp and the error code entries are only an indirect indicator to an automotive professional that the timing chain is the root cause. Therefore, the first priority is to review the engine timing before repairing.

Everything in one box

Should a chain drive repair be necessary, Schaeffler offers suitable repair kits under the INA brand name. In addition to the timing chain, these kits contain all the parts needed for the repair, such as chain wheels, hydraulic and mechanical chain tensioners, all necessary seals, chain additive and mounting parts.

Additional information on the INA timing chain kits, including repair instructions, installation videos, product and service information can be found here on the REPXPERT Portal.

Vehicle-specific installation instructions can be found in REPXPERT, as well as further information on the part can also be found at

If you have any questions, please use the contact form to get in touch with us.

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