Why does Volvo using a Timing Belt Versus Timing Chain?
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    1. #1

      Why does Volvo using a Timing Belt Versus Timing Chain?

      I was on here reading a threat about changing the timing belt, and it dawned on me, why doesn't Volvo use timing chains? I've always heard timing chains are better and don't need replaced. Am I wrong? What is Volvo's motivation of using a belt versus a chain? At least on the S60's.

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    3. #2
      Member Bmo Pete's Avatar
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      Our T6 3.0's use timing chains. Yet another reason why this engine remains the best Volvo engine ever.

      I believe the drive-e's require timing belts due to the higher pressure fuel pump running off the timing belt. The T6 drive-e's supercharger also uses the timing belt, so belts are a more realistic solution here. Unfortunately, after 75K, you're on borrowed time with a belt. Did I mention that the T6 3.0 inline 6 is the best Volvo engine ever?
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    4. #3
      Junior Member Catman420's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by MyVolvoS60 View Post
      I was on here reading a threat about changing the timing belt, and it dawned on me, why doesn't Volvo use timing chains? I've always heard timing chains are better and don't need replaced. Am I wrong? What is Volvo's motivation of using a belt versus a chain? At least on the S60's.
      I go to a indie with ?'s all the time and the one thing he does is place cam shafts with worn out sprockets from timing chains on his counter for everyone to see. All from Mercedes!

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    6. #4
      Member Bmo Pete's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Catman420 View Post
      I go to a indie with ?'s all the time and the one thing he does is place cam shafts with worn out sprockets from timing chains on his counter for everyone to see. All from Mercedes!
      sounds like a systemic engineering issue with Mercedes. Generally Indie's don't display replaced bent valves and ruined pistons from timing belt failures, they just wright-off the engine, or the entire car.
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    7. #5
      Member Veefifty T5AWD's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Bmo Pete View Post
      Our T6 3.0's use timing chains.
      Wait, what? Really? So no replacement needed?
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    8. #6
      Member krn's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Veefifty T5AWD View Post
      Wait, what? Really? So no replacement needed?
      Good for the life of the engine (oil lubricated parts and all that).
      Did BMO Pete mention best Volvo engine ever?

      Google this for an interesting graphic of the parts including the drive for the alternator:

      volvo si6 engine timing chain

      This might jump to it:

      https://www.google.com/search?q=merc...qO2mtsDh8Od-M:

      (You do have to replace that blue rubber coupling to the alternator at 150K miles.)
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    9. #7
      Quote Originally Posted by krn View Post
      Good for the life of the engine (oil lubricated parts and all that).
      Did BMO Pete mention best Volvo engine ever?

      Google this for an interesting graphic of the parts including the drive for the alternator:

      volvo si6 engine timing chain

      This might jump to it:

      https://www.google.com/search?q=merc...qO2mtsDh8Od-M:

      (You do have to replace that blue rubber coupling to the alternator at 150K miles.)
      I presume the new T-6's use Drive-E? So are the newer T-6's all timing belts now, too?

    10. #8
      Quote Originally Posted by Bmo Pete View Post
      Our T6 3.0's use timing chains. Yet another reason why this engine remains the best Volvo engine ever.

      I believe the drive-e's require timing belts due to the higher pressure fuel pump running off the timing belt. The T6 drive-e's supercharger also uses the timing belt, so belts are a more realistic solution here. Unfortunately, after 75K, you're on borrowed time with a belt. Did I mention that the T6 3.0 inline 6 is the best Volvo engine ever?
      I presume the new T-6's use Drive-E? So are the newer T-6's all timing belts now, too?

      So a Timing Chain wouldn't be a solution with the Drive-E engines and higher pressure fuel pumps? Sounds like Volvo could have found a work around. Timing Belts and Water Pump maintenance adds up. I got the Prepaid Maintenance until 100K, but there after ugh! And no, I'm not a DIY guy.
      Last edited by MyVolvoS60; 07-07-2017 at 03:59 PM.

    11. #9
      Junior Member marvinmartian's Avatar
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      There are pros and cons to chains and belts. It's normally more a design consideration that anything else. Belts last like 90k miles and more now, so either way should be fine. Harder to fix a chain in most cases. Chains should also be checked for tension at around 100k and 200k miles.

      I'm speaking from my general experience with owning cars and wrenching over the last 30 years ... not with Volvos in particular. I'm a newb in Volvoland.

      EG., My 1990 Acura Integra's belt was designed to last only 60k miles. Granted, it wasn't too hard to change either, but still. They've come a long way. Notice Harley and other bikes use belts instead of chains now. Polymer tech ftw.
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    12. #10
      Quote Originally Posted by marvinmartian View Post
      There are pros and cons to chains and belts. It's normally more a design consideration that anything else. Belts last like 90k miles and more now, so either way should be fine. Harder to fix a chain in most cases. Chains should also be checked for tension at around 100k and 200k miles.

      I'm speaking from my general experience with owning cars and wrenching over the last 30 years ... not with Volvos in particular. I'm a newb in Volvoland.

      EG., My 1990 Acura Integra's belt was designed to last only 60k miles. Granted, it wasn't too hard to change either, but still. They've come a long way. Notice Harley and other bikes use belts instead of chains now. Polymer tech ftw.
      The part that baffles me is I've short of visual checks, chains can last the entire life of the car without being replaced. So it makes me wonder why Volvo, behing a Mid-Range / Low Tier Higher End car, would use belts over chains. Seems like a shortcut?

    13. #11
      Junior Member Azlkk's Avatar
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      Chains aren't perfect, guide rails get brittle with time and temperature and frag the engine, as do tensioners and not to mention that chain and sprocket wear is there too. Our '88 Merc 560SL and BMW '88 M5 both needed guide rails, chain and tensioner changed at 120k miles. It's usually a lot easier to change a belt than a chain, unless you have an Italian car, in the defense of belts.
      Last edited by Azlkk; 07-07-2017 at 04:46 PM. Reason: corrected year
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      Google Chevy Traverse timing chain failures. Many other cars have these issues with chains as well. As long as you follow the manufacturers recommendation you will be fine with a belt. I dont think one is better than the other from a higher tier/lower tier car perspective.
      Last edited by s6013t5; 07-07-2017 at 07:24 PM.
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    15. #13
      Senior Member Wayne T5's Avatar
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      I think there may also be a NVH benefit to using a timing belt over a timing chain.
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    16. #14
      Member krn's Avatar
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      For the 3.0/3.2 inline 6, chains allow the engine to be a bit shorter. All to squeeze a inline 6 transversely in the engine bay.

      Conceived for both transverse and longitudinal applications, the four-valves-per-cylinder gasoline engine features an aluminum cylinder block and a total weight of about 400 pounds. With a compact chain-driven camshaft system, the engine is actually 1.0 millimeter shorter than Volvo’s widely offered five-cylinder—a feature that makes it suitable for a whole range of Ford models, according to AutoWeek sources.

      Read more: http://autoweek.com/article/car-news...#ixzz4mCHSoMpJ

      The chain is also pretty short and seems likely to be reliable as it is a fairly simple setup.

      The 1993 Volvo 5 cylinders had a timing belt interval of 50K miles. That seems pretty short. They bumped it up later to 70K miles when they went to a wider belt. The tensioner design changed on that engine at some point, too (not sure if that was to get even more life out of it). But they tweaked the timing belt design over the life of that engine improving it over time. I bet the majority of original owners never deal with it before selling their cars now.
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    17. #15
      Quote Originally Posted by krn View Post
      For the 3.0/3.2 inline 6, chains allow the engine to be a bit shorter. All to squeeze a inline 6 transversely in the engine bay.

      Conceived for both transverse and longitudinal applications, the four-valves-per-cylinder gasoline engine features an aluminum cylinder block and a total weight of about 400 pounds. With a compact chain-driven camshaft system, the engine is actually 1.0 millimeter shorter than Volvo’s widely offered five-cylinder—a feature that makes it suitable for a whole range of Ford models, according to AutoWeek sources.

      Read more: http://autoweek.com/article/car-news...#ixzz4mCHSoMpJ

      The chain is also pretty short and seems likely to be reliable as it is a fairly simple setup.

      The 1993 Volvo 5 cylinders had a timing belt interval of 50K miles. That seems pretty short. They bumped it up later to 70K miles when they went to a wider belt. The tensioner design changed on that engine at some point, too (not sure if that was to get even more life out of it). But they tweaked the timing belt design over the life of that engine improving it over time. I bet the majority of original owners never deal with it before selling their cars now.
      I'd argue differently. Volvo recommends changing the timing belt at 120K. I'd be hard pressed to think Volvo's get retired before 120K. Unless you're a DIY guy, and I'm not, we're stuck taking our car to a mechanic when that time comes.

      Far as I've been told (and i might be wrong) you don't have to ever worry about a timing chain snapping. So long as you keep up regular maintenance and have the chain checked periodically.

    18. #16
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      Quote Originally Posted by Bmo Pete View Post
      Our T6 3.0's use timing chains. Yet another reason why this engine remains the best Volvo engine ever.

      I believe the drive-e's require timing belts due to the higher pressure fuel pump running off the timing belt. The T6 drive-e's supercharger also uses the timing belt, so belts are a more realistic solution here. Unfortunately, after 75K, you're on borrowed time with a belt. Did I mention that the T6 3.0 inline 6 is the best Volvo engine ever?
      The high pressure fuel pump on the Drive-e's is driven off the rear of the exhaust camshaft, which is belt driven at the front of the engine.

      The supercharger on the Drive-e T6 is driven by the serpentine belt.

      The 3.0 T6 is a very nice engine. The best Volvo engine ever? May I suggest the redblock? Maybe the whiteblock 5 cylinder?
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    19. #17
      Senior Member Wayne T5's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by MyVolvoS60 View Post
      I'd argue differently. Volvo recommends changing the timing belt at 120K. I'd be hard pressed to think Volvo's get retired before 120K. Unless you're a DIY guy, and I'm not, we're stuck taking our car to a mechanic when that time comes.
      I think his point was that most people trade their cars every three to five years so the timing belt will be the next guy's problem.

      Also, most people ignore the fact that there is a time limit on timing belts as well. I think it may be 10 years or 120k whichever comes first. Often it's the ten years that comes first but nobody wants to spend the $1,000 to $1,200 that the typical timing belt/ water pump service costs so there are a lot of 10+ year old lower mile cars out there needing new timing belts. For those of us that have been driving these cars for years and years it's just something that you budget for.
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      Quote Originally Posted by Wayne T5 View Post
      I think his point was that most people trade their cars every three to five years so the timing belt will be the next guy's problem.
      Are these engines interference or not? Meaning if the timing belt were to break, would the piston smash the valves or not?

      Timing belts are something that VW TDI people pay close attention to. I had an indie in Baltimore who did lots of them - for a lot less than the dealer would ever do. On a TDI they could be a pain as well - you needed to unbolt one of the motor mounts to get the belt on and off. I doubt he would work on a Volvo however.
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    21. #19
      Quote Originally Posted by Wayne T5 View Post
      I think his point was that most people trade their cars every three to five years so the timing belt will be the next guy's problem.

      Also, most people ignore the fact that there is a time limit on timing belts as well. I think it may be 10 years or 120k whichever comes first. Often it's the ten years that comes first but nobody wants to spend the $1,000 to $1,200 that the typical timing belt/ water pump service costs so there are a lot of 10+ year old lower mile cars out there needing new timing belts. For those of us that have been driving these cars for years and years it's just something that you budget for.
      Makes sense. Or I guess people change the timing belt and water pump themselves. I plan on keeping my Volvo a long time, and while it has 18500 miles on it currently, I had wondered about the belt vs chain issue.

    22. #20
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      Quote Originally Posted by MyVolvoS60 View Post
      The part that baffles me is I've short of visual checks, chains can last the entire life of the car without being replaced. So it makes me wonder why Volvo, behing a Mid-Range / Low Tier Higher End car, would use belts over chains. Seems like a shortcut?
      A simple google search reveals chains can require as much if not more maintenance then a belt, because people believe they last the life of the car. If it starts to stretch it can cause the same problems as a snapped belt. Our company Traverse's wen through many problems because of chains jumping teeth and causing valve interference, thankfully warrantied, but still an issue.

      https://www.yourmechanic.com/article...g-timing-chain
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    23. #21
      Senior Member Wayne T5's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by ericy View Post
      Are these engines interference or not? Meaning if the timing belt were to break, would the piston smash the valves or not?

      Timing belts are something that VW TDI people pay close attention to. I had an indie in Baltimore who did lots of them - for a lot less than the dealer would ever do. On a TDI they could be a pain as well - you needed to unbolt one of the motor mounts to get the belt on and off. I doubt he would work on a Volvo however.
      The older white block (5 cylinder) motors were of an interference design. I am not sure about the Drive E (4 cylinder) motors but I would assume that they are as well.

      Thing is, often it isn't the belt that breaks but the tensioner so it's a little hard to look at the belt and not see any cracks and pronounce it "all good" while a bad tensioner could let go. Most mechanics recommend replacing the water pump at the same time because it isn't a lot more labor and they typically don't last much past 120k miles anyway.
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    24. #22
      Member krn's Avatar
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      Engine configuration might make a difference in chain reliability with
      inline engine being simpler. The Volvo chain in the T6 is pretty compact
      as it has a gear assembly setup that makes the chain relatively short(see
      image above in post 6). Compare that to an overhead valve V6/v8 engine and I
      can see why those might have more issues.

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      A timing chain requires oiling, so it must be internal to the engine. This makes it difficult to use it to drive external components, like pumps. Chains can also be noisier and transmit more torsional vibrations to the driven components.

      It may be counter-intuitive, but it's a fact that chains stretch and belts do not. Ask any motorcyclist, especially the ones that own belt-drive bikes. The chain's pins and links wear over time, creating a small amount of play in each link. But multiply that by a hundred or so links, and you have a significant lengthening of the chain. The engine designers must accommodate chain stretch by leaving a more generous initial piston-to-valve clearance, which has performance implications.

      On the other hand, we have seen continuous improvement in belt life (my V60 maintenance manual says to change at 150k miles), so the chain's only advantage (longer service life) is not so great these days.

    26. #24
      Quote Originally Posted by Dyno View Post
      A timing chain requires oiling, so it must be internal to the engine. This makes it difficult to use it to drive external components, like pumps. Chains can also be noisier and transmit more torsional vibrations to the driven components.

      It may be counter-intuitive, but it's a fact that chains stretch and belts do not. Ask any motorcyclist, especially the ones that own belt-drive bikes. The chain's pins and links wear over time, creating a small amount of play in each link. But multiply that by a hundred or so links, and you have a significant lengthening of the chain. The engine designers must accommodate chain stretch by leaving a more generous initial piston-to-valve clearance, which has performance implications.

      On the other hand, we have seen continuous improvement in belt life (my V60 maintenance manual says to change at 150k miles), so the chain's only advantage (longer service life) is not so great these days.
      I guess most car dealers figure that by 120-150K people are either selling / trading in / or possibly keeping their car for the long haul. I have to imagine sell / trading are more likely options for higher end vehicles.

    27. #25
      Member KCCM's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Dyno View Post
      A timing chain requires oiling, so it must be internal to the engine. This makes it difficult to use it to drive external components, like pumps. Chains can also be noisier and transmit more torsional vibrations to the driven components.

      It may be counter-intuitive, but it's a fact that chains stretch and belts do not. Ask any motorcyclist, especially the ones that own belt-drive bikes. The chain's pins and links wear over time, creating a small amount of play in each link. But multiply that by a hundred or so links, and you have a significant lengthening of the chain. The engine designers must accommodate chain stretch by leaving a more generous initial piston-to-valve clearance, which has performance implications.

      On the other hand, we have seen continuous improvement in belt life (my V60 maintenance manual says to change at 150k miles), so the chain's only advantage (longer service life) is not so great these days.
      Advantages are that it's thinner and internal, which means lubrication and a shorter engine overall, which was important with the T6 3.0. The tensioner, which often fail first, takes up the slack and, like the non-self-adjusting valve lash shims in the R-series likely won't need adjustment or replacement for 300k miles plus.


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    28. #26
      Global Moderator R-Pow3R3d's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Wayne T5 View Post
      Thing is, often it isn't the belt that breaks but the tensioner so it's a little hard to look at the belt and not see any cracks and pronounce it "all good" while a bad tensioner could let go.
      Sadly, many still do exactly this, despite Volvo's recommendation for replacement based on mileage and/or time.
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    29. #27
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      R-Pow3R3d,

      Wow! You have (or had) a real unicorn. An '04 silver/nordcap MT V70R is a very rare car. I know because I had one exactly like that! Well, my wife did actually. A lot of fun, but it had some serious issues, but that's a topic for another day.

    30. #28
      Junior Member Marcus_J's Avatar
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      The old belt vs. chain argument!

      There are pros and cons for both, of course. But when it comes to durability chains can be superior to belts, if the engines are well constructed and maintenance is i good order. But I'd say this requires hydraulic tensioners, really good quality guide rails and oil lubrication that will keep the chain and sprockets well lubed all the time! Also you must never, ever, be sloppy about oil changes! So long as these requirements are fulfilled, timing chains could last at least the entire engines lifespan.

      Older Mercedes' and BMW's with timing chains are pretty much bulletproof when it comes to this, but of course there's always exceptions to the rule.
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    31. #29
      Global Moderator R-Pow3R3d's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Dyno View Post
      R-Pow3R3d,

      Wow! You have (or had) a real unicorn. An '04 silver/nordcap MT V70R is a very rare car. I know because I had one exactly like that! Well, my wife did actually. A lot of fun, but it had some serious issues, but that's a topic for another day.
      Have! It's darn near perfect and only has ~61k miles.
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