Jeep Commander: Belt Or Chain?

does a jeep commander have a timing belt

The Jeep Commander is a powerful vehicle, able to tackle trails and climb steep mountains. However, if there is an issue with its timing belt or chain, its adventures will come to a halt. Timing belts are made of rubber and nylon and are present in some older car models. Timing chains, on the other hand, are similar to bicycle chains and are found in most modern cars and trucks. The Jeep Commander is fitted with a timing chain, which is a lifetime installation that does not need to be changed unless there is a specific problem. Timing belt replacement is a complex and precise job, and incorrect installation can lead to engine damage. Symptoms of a bad timing belt or chain include engine noise, poor engine performance, a decrease in fuel mileage, and the engine not starting.

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Jeep Commander timing belt replacement costs

The Jeep Commander is fitted with a timing chain instead of a timing belt. Timing chains are lifetime installations that do not need to be replaced unless there is a specific problem. However, timing chain replacement can be expensive as it involves several hours of labour from experienced mechanics.

The cost of timing chain replacement varies depending on location and the type of service centre. For example, a Jeep Commander owner in Ashburn, VA, can expect to pay between $409 and $919 for timing chain replacement, including parts and labour.

Although timing chains do not need regular replacement, other components such as the tensioner may need to be checked and replaced if necessary. The tensioner maintains the correct tension on the timing chain, ensuring the engine runs smoothly. If the tensioner fails, it can cause the timing chain to become loose and fall off or jump, leading to engine damage.

Therefore, while the timing chain itself may not require regular replacement, it is important to maintain other related parts to prevent engine problems.

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Symptoms of a bad timing belt

The timing belt is a critical component of a Jeep Commander's engine, and it needs to be properly maintained for the engine to run smoothly and efficiently. If the timing belt fails, the vehicle may suffer major damage or even break down completely.

  • Noise from the engine: A failing timing belt may cause a whirring or rattling noise under the hood, especially when starting the engine.
  • Poor engine performance: If the timing belt isn't working correctly, the crankshaft and camshafts won't be synchronised, resulting in reduced power and worse fuel mileage.
  • Engine stops running: A broken timing belt can cause extensive engine damage, leading to the car not starting.
  • Check Engine Light: If the timing belt has jumped a tooth, the check engine light will likely illuminate.
  • Loss of Fuel Mileage: When the engine timing is off due to a misaligned timing belt, the engine works harder, resulting in decreased fuel efficiency.
  • Glazing and Dry-rot: A glossy appearance on the timing belt indicates that it may be failing. A healthy timing belt should have some grip when you lightly brush your finger across it.
  • Other signs: Metal shavings in the oil, a ticking noise from the cylinder head area, and excessive vibration in the engine bay due to an engine misfire are other potential indicators of a failing timing belt.

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Timing belt replacement process

The timing belt replacement process is a complex and time-consuming task that requires a decent understanding of car engines. It is recommended that this task be left to trained professionals with access to specialized tools to ensure it is done correctly and to prevent serious problems and costly repairs.

  • Purchase a new timing belt, gaskets, and gasket adhesives.
  • Disconnect the negative battery cable.
  • Remove the alternator belt.
  • Remove any accessories, such as the power steering pump, alternator, and air conditioning compressor, that may be blocking the timing belt cover.
  • Remove the distributor cap, if your vehicle has one.
  • Line up the timing marks on the crankshaft pulley with the 0° mark on the timing scale.
  • Remove the timing cover by loosening and removing the bolts or screws holding it in place.
  • Check for proper alignment of the crank and camshaft timing marks.
  • Check the area around the belt for signs of oil or coolant leakage.
  • Loosen the mounting bolt(s) holding the belt tensioner and pivot it away from the belt.
  • Inspect the tensioner pulley for any damage. Replace it if necessary.
  • Slide the old belt off the sprockets and inspect the timing belt pulleys and water pump for any needed replacements.
  • Install the new timing belt and reassemble the components that were removed, ensuring proper torque specifications are followed.

It is important to note that the process may vary depending on the specific make and model of the vehicle, so it is recommended to refer to the service manual for detailed instructions. Additionally, some modern cars with electronic ignitions do not have distributors, so the process may differ slightly for those vehicles.

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Timing belt maintenance

Timing belts are an essential part of your engine, synchronising movement between the crankshaft and camshaft. This movement allows valves to open and close at the correct time so that your engine can run optimally. If the timing belt is faulty, it can lead to permanent engine damage.

Warning Signs

There are several warning signs that your timing belt may be faulty. These include:

  • Noises from the engine, such as a whirring or rattling sound
  • Poor engine performance
  • Loss of fuel mileage
  • The engine stops running
  • The check engine light is illuminated
  • Glazing and dry rot (only for timing belts, not timing chains)
  • Metal shavings in the oil
  • Ticking noise coming from the cylinder head area
  • Excessive vibration in the engine bay

Maintenance

When replacing the timing belt, it is also a good opportunity to replace other related parts, such as the tensioner, chain drive mechanisms, guides, and sprockets. Additionally, it is recommended to replace the water pump at the same time, as its lifespan is unknown, and this can avoid future labour charges.

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Timing belt vs timing chain

A timing belt is a crucial component of a car engine, and if it fails, it can cause severe damage. The Jeep Commander's timing belt or chain is responsible for keeping the camshaft(s) in sync with the crankshaft. If the timing belt has issues or shifts, it can cause the valves to open and close improperly, leading to poor engine performance and decreased fuel efficiency. Therefore, it is essential to recognise the symptoms of a failing timing belt and address the issue promptly.

Timing belts are generally made of rubber and nylon, while timing chains resemble bicycle chains. Timing belts are less common and are typically found in smaller, Japanese-made cars with four-cylinder engines. Timing chains, on the other hand, are more prevalent in modern engines. One significant difference between the two is that timing belts require routine replacement as part of regular maintenance, whereas timing chains are designed to last the lifetime of the vehicle. However, timing chains are not without their drawbacks. While they are not meant to be serviced during the engine's lifetime, they can still fail prematurely, leading to costly repairs.

When it comes to replacement, timing belt replacement is a complex task that requires a significant amount of disassembly to access the timing chain. It is recommended to replace all related parts simultaneously, including the tensioner, chain drive mechanisms, guides, and sprockets. In contrast, timing chain replacement is not an easy task and requires extensive knowledge of the engine and its components. It is best performed by trained professionals with specialised tools.

While the Jeep Commander's engine may utilise a timing belt or a timing chain, the symptoms of failure are similar. These symptoms include the engine not starting, unusual noises from the engine, decreased engine performance, loss of fuel mileage, and warning lights on the dashboard. It is crucial to address these issues promptly to prevent further damage and ensure the vehicle's smooth operation.

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Frequently asked questions

The Jeep Commander does not have a timing belt, it has a timing chain.

A timing chain is designed to last the lifetime of the vehicle.

Some symptoms of a bad timing chain include a decrease in performance, loss of fuel mileage, and a rattling noise when starting the engine.

If the timing chain breaks, it can cause permanent engine damage.

The cost of replacing a timing chain can be expensive due to the labour involved, with several hours of work required from experienced mechanics.

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