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What is a Timing Cover?

By Jeremy Laukkonen
Updated Jan 31, 2024
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A timing cover is a component typically found in internal combustion engines and is designed to protect components such as the timing gears and chain or belt. In applications that use a timing chain, the timing cover usually seals the front end of the block, while engines with timing belts typically have timing covers that are less integral. Timing covers can be made from either metal or plastic. Engines with timing chains usually have a metal cover, while those with a timing belt may utilize covers made from a variety of different materials.

Timing chain covers are typically designed to seal the front end of the engine block. This is generally so the timing gears and chain can be lubricated with engine oil. These covers will usually be sealed to the block with a timing cover gasket, which may be responsible for engine oil leaks if it fails. Additionally, the crank shaft will typically pass through a seal set into the timing cover that may potentially leak. Replacing a timing cover gasket is typically a time intensive job, while replacing a crankshaft oil seal is sometimes possible without removing the cover itself.

Timing covers are also used in conjunction with timing belts. In these applications the front of the engine will typically be sealed with oil seals that are set into the block or head where the crank and cam shafts extend. With the engine otherwise sealed, the function of a timing belt cover is simply to protect the belt from damage. These covers may be constructed of either metal or plastic and may be comprised of several different pieces. Multi-piece timing belt covers may even contain both metal and plastic pieces.

Timing cover gaskets are also often used with timing belt covers, though they are designed to keep contaminants away from the belt. If an oil leak develops at a crank or cam shaft seal, oil may contaminate the timing belt and require its replacement. Oil may also contaminate the cover gasket, causing it to swell and become unusable. In these cases, the seal, belt, and gasket are often replaced at the same time.

In some cases, timing belt covers will use special timing cover bolts. These bolts will typically have a thick shoulder that allows them to tighten without cracking the plastic cover. In other cases the cover may have metal bezels in the bolt holes that are designed to perform the same function.

WikiMotors is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By anon949555 — On May 05, 2014


By MrMoody — On Sep 08, 2011

@Charred - I agree. Timing belts are just one of those things you have to take care of, whether you have an actual chain or a belt. I have a belt on my car.

Either way, I recommend that you don’t try to do the fix yourself. These things are precision tuned and you can’t do a good job on your own, unless you’re a trained mechanic, in my opinion.

By Charred — On Sep 07, 2011

I learned one valuable lesson about timing chain replacement. Check your manufacturer’s book and do it at the recommend interval.

Don’t assume that it’s 100,000 miles. That’s where I made my mistake. I had a Honda and it started to make some very weird noises. I put up with it for awhile and then took it in to the mechanic.

He told me the timing chain was overdue for a replacement. I was shocked, because the car only had 70,000 miles on it. He said that with these cars, the timing chain needs to be replaced at around the 50,000 to 60,000 mile interval.

It’s a good thing I took it in when I did, otherwise I would have had a real problem and an expensive repair.

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