What causes timing chain failure

The engine in your Mercedes-Benz works with precision to produce a smooth and efficient operation. As any car lover knows, the key to this is engine timing.

The engine’s timing is vital & is responsible for syncing different parts of your engine and regulating the combustion cycle.

If engine timing is off, you may experience a loss of power, reduced fuel efficiency, and even complete engine failure.

Central to maintaining this specific timing in your engine is a “timing chain or belt“.

The timing chain is a strong chain that loops around the gear wheel in the camshaft and crankshaft to maintain the synchronicity of the valves and pistons respectively.

Engines designed with timing chains instead of the more common timing belt generally enjoy greater durability and strength. Additionally, timing systems that use chains can go much longer without replacement.

Timing belt v timing chain: why Mercedes-Benz uses timing chains

While not all vehicles use timing chains, most Mercedes-Benz vehicles (especially those powered by higher-displacement engines such as the C-Class) do.

In terms of function, there’s no difference – both serve the same purpose of synchronising the camshaft and crankshaft in your engine, preventing engine valve failure.

So if they’re so similar, why does Mercedes-Benz continue to use timing chains when most other car brands have moved on to rubber timing belts?

Strength and durability

In our opinion, the reason Mercedes-Benz vehicles utilise timing chains is simple: they are considerably more durable than timing belts, and therefore better suited for the more powerful engines typical of Mercedes-Benz vehicles.

Timing chains and belts perform hundreds of circuits, even during a short drive. The belt or chain will interact with various tensioners, pulleys as well as hydraulic gears in both the cam and crankshaft.

This can generate a lot of friction and puts the timing chain or belt under considerable pressure.

By contrast, rubber belts can warp, or become brittle with prolonged friction and heat. Timing belts will slowly degrade necessitating periodic replacement – by contrast a timing chain can theoretically go the entire life of your car without replacement.

In fact, timing chain replacement isn’t even included on most Mercedes-Benz service schedules!

Less frequent replacement

It’s because of the aforementioned durability that most official Mercedes-Benz maintenance schedules don’t even mention timing chains. Instead, they assume that the chain will last the lifetime of the car, and exclude it from routine services altogether.

The M271 CGI engine goes even further – instead of having interconnected links, timing chains in these engines use a series of prominent “teeth”, connected by strong side links.

The teeth offer a more aggressive fit with sprockets that turn the camshaft and crankshaft, reducing the chance of the chain coming loose. Furthermore, this also makes the timing chains in these engines even less prone to wear and tear.

In fact, in many cases timing failures aren’t the result of a problem with the chain itself, but rather the hydraulic camshaft actuating gears.

Of course, that isn’t always how things play out in the real world.

That’s why the Mercedes-Benz specialists at German Auto Repairs & Service don’t strictly follow the maintenance schedule. Instead, we’ll take a look at the condition of your timing chain and offer our expert opinion regarding whether or not it really needs replacing.

The most common failures of this engines timing chain

  • Timing chain stretch
  • Worn-out sprockets
  • Tensioner failure

Timing chain problems with the M271 engine

Timing chain issues can be found in any vehicle – today, we’ll be focusing specifically on vehicles powered by versions of the Mercedes-Benz M271 engine.

The Mercedes-Benz M271 is a petrol-powered engine manufactured between 2002 and 2017 in a range of variants. Over its 15-year production run, M271 variants can be found in a range of Mercedes-Benz vehicles:

  • 2002-2010 Mercedes-Benz CLK-Class (W209) CLK 200
  • 2000-2006 Mercedes-Benz C-Class (W203) C180/200/230
  • 2007-2014 Mercedes-Benz C-Class (W204) C180/200/250
  • 2002-2008 Mercedes-Benz E-Class (W211) E200

That’s just a handful of the vehicles that use this particular engine.

In particular, 271 Kompressor and CGI engines are particularly prone to timing chain failure. Today, we will discuss what causes timing chain problems in both of these engines, as well as the most common timing problems.

Armin Tadj
Armin Tadj
I dealt with this company via remote control from Qld. They were honest and transparent the whole time. Always putting the customers interest first. I would highly recommend this Business to anyone that has a German Car. Much better service, prices and accountability then any German Dealership! I hope and pray that this Business grows three times its size so it can help many more customers in Adelaide. (We need people like you!!)
Reece Harrison
Reece Harrison
Friendly staff with a broad understanding of the vehicles they service. I have used their end of CPO warranty inspection which was invaluable for sorting out issues that I would have otherwise had to pay for later when the warranty expired. Recently did my GL rear shockers and very happy
Ajay Mariz (Ajay)
Ajay Mariz (Ajay)
Fantastic place to take your car, very professional and to the point and honest advice.
Very comprehensive service facilities with staff who communicate very well with clients.
David Finch
David Finch
Very thorough and professional service. The staff are extremely knowledgeable and everything was explained in detail. Thanks again!
Sean Law
Sean Law
A lot cheaper then mercedes for repairs
Deepak Pragalathan
Deepak Pragalathan
Expertise with German cars, my skoda octavia VRs is serviced here and I have no complaints. 4 stars only due to their appointment availability.

To read more reviews about our Mercedes Timing Chain repairs please visit our Google Business Page