The Difference Between Cambelts And Camchains | What Is The Best?

AutoTrader NZ
Published 4 August 2021

In New Zealand, where diverse driving conditions from city streets to rugged rural roads prevail, choosing the right engine timing system—cambelt or camchain—is crucial for your vehicle’s performance and maintenance. Each system has its pros and cons, and the choice can significantly affect the longevity and reliability of your car.

Cambelts, made of a rubber-like material, synchronize the engine’s camshaft and crankshaft by aligning the timing of valve openings and closings with the pistons. They are known for their quiet operation and are generally less expensive both in terms of initial cost and replacement compared to camchains. However, cambelts wear out over time and need to be replaced every 60,000 to 100,000 kilometers. Failure to replace a cambelt can result in severe engine damage, potentially incurring hefty repair costs.

Camchains, constructed of metal, serve the same purpose but are designed to last the lifetime of the engine. They are more durable and typically require less maintenance, making them a good option for those who drive frequently or in demanding conditions. The drawback is that they can be noisier and more costly to repair or replace if they ever fail.

Here’s a quick comparison:

Feature Cambelt Camchain
Material Rubber Metal
Noise Level Quieter Noisier
Cost Less expensive More expensive
Maintenance High (replace 60,000-100,000 km) Low (lasts lifetime of engine)
Risk of Failure High (can cause engine damage) Low

For Kiwi drivers, the choice may depend on typical usage and driving habits. Camchains are suitable for those who need durability and fewer service interruptions, especially beneficial in rural or high-mileage scenarios. Conversely, the affordability and quieter operation of cambelts appeal to urban commuters. Always check your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations to make the most appropriate choice for your vehicle.