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In Car Timing Chain Replacement - Experience?

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I understand that with the availability of a master link style timing chain, the chain can be replaced with the engine in the car.  Has anyone attempted this and, if so, any tips?


I am considering a proactive replacement.  Can the condition of the chain be determined by timing deviations or can you see the chain by removal of some component to assess condition?


My car is a 2002 C2 with manual transmission.

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We have not been a fan of master link style chains for these cars, primarily as the chain is a bear to replace with the engine in the car (it is unimaginably worse than trying to build a ship in a bottle), and the longevity of the master link assembly itself.  Pull the engine and do a proper chain swap, along with any other needed/wanted updates at the same time.  Overall, you will probably end up saving time, and you will know the new chain is solid.

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I have tried to address as many components as I can to reduce the risk of a failure.  The only thing left that seems to fit in the preventive maintenance category is the timing chain, which some have reported could break without warning.  I'm not eager to do the job but also don't want to overlook a weak point that I could address.  Is there some way to determine the condition of the chain?

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If you are running decent quality oil, do regular maintenance, and have not altered the valve train, your chains should run for a long time.  From years of experience, the only time we have seen the chains fail in these engine's was when something else died first, causing the chain to break, not the other way around.  For the most part, they seem to run for ever and are one of the least problematic components in the M96 engine.

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Thanks for the input from all this experience and knowledge.  I have done a lot of PM work DIY and have been successful with it so I guess I am feeling a little cocky about digging deeper.  I think I will just leave well enough alone, as I can't really address all of the possible failure modes without a complete rebuild of what is currently a great running, no issues engine.

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Most every owner want to do what is best for their engines; but unfortunately, sometimes "the view isn't worth the climb".  If you are not having issues, and are not ready to drop the engine and tear it apart, this may be one of those times.


That said, if you have not yet addressed your IMS, that would be a far better place to spend your time and effort.

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