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Timing belts or chains?!


I was a bit concerned to read in an online article that the timing chain on a three-year-old Volvo V60 (just outside warranty) broke and destroyed the engine (and until the newspaper got involved Volvo was going to make the owner pay for the new engine). The article also said that they were noticing an increase in timing chains breaking. Surely the whole point of a chain vs belt was that it would last. Better off with a belt and changing it at 150,000km. Costly, but, perhaps unthinkable, more secure??

Having been very taken with your recent review of the V60, I'm reconsidering going back to a Skoda, but unfortunately, the same article said that the Volkswagen Group were suffering particularly from broken chains. Does the Superb diesel have a chain or belt? Do all cars now have timing chains?


Philip Donegan (Ballina)

Oct 2019 Filed under: diesel

Expert answer

Hi Philip,

First up, it's worth mentioning that there is not a massive worldwide problem with timing chains. They fail in some cars some of the time, but that does not mean they are inherently less reliable than timing belts. Every car is different in that regard so we'd urge you not to choose a car based on that.

There is no 'norm' - each car maker chooses which to use for a given engine and there doesn't seem to be any trend one way or the other as far as we can seen. 

The 2.0 TDI diesel engine in the pre-facelift Superb definitely used a timing belt, but there's a new engine in the facelifted model ('2.0 TDI evo') and we've not had a lot of information on the timing system. The one photograph of the image I've found shows a plastic cover to the front of the engine, suggesting that it does still have a timing belt.

Shane O' Donoghue - Complete Car Advisor

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