Toyota Tacoma Timing Belt Or Timing Chain? [1995 – 2023]

Most Toyota Tacomas have four-cylinder engines that use timing chains. However, there are Tacoma models that were made between 1995 and 2004, which have V6 engines and use timing belts instead of timing chains.

Timing chains are preferred because they are durable and typically don’t have to be replaced during an engine’s lifetime. They are also cheap and easy to maintain as long as you regularly oil them and avoid overheating the engine.

Read on to learn whether your Toyota Tacoma has a timing belt or timing chain and how you can maintain the component.

Toyota Tacoma Timing Belt or Timing Chain According to Year

Whether your Toyota Tacoma has a timing belt or timing chain depends on its year of manufacture and engine type. Typically, four-cylinder Tacoma engines have a timing chain, while V6 Tacomas have a timing belt.

The table below shows which models have timing chains and which have timing belts.

Engine NameYear of ManufactureEngine SpecificationsTiming Belt or ChainReplacement Interval
2RZ – FE1995 – 2004● 2.4L four-cylinder
● 5,000 RPM
● 142 horsepower
● Interference engine
Timing chainEngine lifetime
3RZ – FE1995 – 2004● 2.7L four-cylinder
● 150 horsepower
● 4,800 RPM
● Interference engine
Timing chainEngine lifetime
5VZ – FE1995 – 2004● 3.4L V6
● 190 horsepower
● Non –  interference engine
● 4,800 RPM
Timing belt90,000 miles
2TR – FE2005 – 2023● 2.7l four-cylinder
● 159 horsepower
● 5,200 RPM
● Interference engine
Timing chainEngine lifetime
2GR – FKS2016 – 2023● 3.5L V6
● 278 horsepower
● Interference engine
● 6,000 RPM
Timing chainEngine lifetime
IGR – FE2005 – 2015● 4.0L V6
● 236 horsepower
● Interference engine
● 5,200 RPM
Timing chainEngine lifetime

How Do Timing Chains, And Timing Belts Work?

A timing belt or chain is an engine part that connects the crankshaft and camshaft to ensure they rotate in synchrony. This synchronization ensures that the engine’s valves open and close at the proper times to enable optimal engine performance.

Typically, timing chains are made using metals or metal alloys. In some cases, these chains are coated with strengthening materials such as Teflon or zinc to reduce the chain’s wear and increase durability.

Timing belts are made of rubber that’s reinforced with fibers. Since they are made of rubber, they wear out in time and must be replaced to maintain peak engine performance.

Is A Timing Chain Better Than A Timing Belt?

Timing chains and timing belts offer various benefits. Hence, the choice of which one to use depends on the engine’s requirements and the vehicle’s use.

Some benefits of timing chains include:

  • Durability – Timing chains are highly durable and tend to last the entire engine lifetime provided no freak accidents occur.
  • Less Maintenance – Since timing belts are made of metal, they don’t wear out quickly. They don’t have to be regularly maintained, so their maintenance costs are low.
  • Their metal material also equips timing chains to handle the stress requirements of high RPM (rotations per minute) engines without breaking.
  • Timing chains often last the entire engine lifetime, and unless an improbable accident occurs, they don’t need to be replaced.

Timing belts also have numerous benefits, including:

  • Lightweight – Timing belts are lighter than chains because they are made of rubber. Hence, they reduce the engine’s overall weight, increasing fuel efficiency.
  • Quiet – Timing belts are generally quieter than timing chains since they produce less vibration.
  • Lower Friction – Timing belts produce less friction than chains, improving the engine’s efficiency.
  • Low Cost – Timing belts are cheaper than timing chains, so replacing or repairing them is less expensive.

Common Issues with Toyota Tacoma Timing Chains and Timing Belts

Timing chains are one of the less common Toyota Tacoma problems that drivers experience. Although they are durable and long-lasting, timing chains sometimes have some issues, including;

● Stretching – The timing chain may stretch over time, leading to a loss of tension. This stretching also causes engine timing to be poor, reducing fuel efficiency.

● Wear and tear – Timing chains are long-lasting, but when the engine has extremely high mileage, you may notice some signs of wear and tear.

● Slack – This results from a failure of your Tacoma’s chain tensioner to hold the timing chain tight and causes it to become loose.

● Chain breakage – Your Toyota’s timing chain can break if exposed to extreme conditions such as severe engine overheating, poor lubrication, or oil contamination.

Similarly, timing belts have some issues, including;

● Misalignment – Your Tacoma’s timing belt can get misaligned when a pully or tensioner is damaged, causing it to jump teeth.

● Tension issues – A timing belt must be correctly tensioned to work properly. If the belt stretches or is too tight, engine performance drops.

● Wearing out – Over time, your Tacoma’s timing belt can crack or become too brittle, leading to failure.

What Should You Do If The Timing Chain Or Belt Is Damaged?

If you suspect that your Tacoma’s timing chain or timing belt is damaged, do the following;

1. Stop Driving

You should stop driving immediately after you notice the signs of timing chain or timing belt failure to avoid causing irreparable damage to the engine. Have it towed if you must get the car to an auto garage or a safe location.

2. Contact a Mechanic

After stopping the vehicle, contact a qualified professional to inspect the chain or belt and diagnose the issue. You may also tell them some of the other signs you noticed.

3. Replace the Timing Chain or Timing Belt

Timing chains and timing belts rarely need to be replaced, but if they get damaged, you must replace them.

How to Maintain Your Toyota Tacoma’s Timing Chain/Timing Belt?

To keep your Tacoma’s timing chain/belt well serviced so that it lasts as long as the engine, use the following tips;

  1. Use high-quality engine oil to avoid the effects of poor lubrication.
  2. Replace the engine oil frequently to keep the chain well-lubricated.
  3. Follow Toyota Tacoma’s recommended maintenance schedule.
  4. Avoid idling for too long since that increases the potential for timing chain wear and tear.
  5. Regularly check the belt and chain for any signs of slack, stretch, or broken links and have them fixed.


Here are some answers to questions about Toyota Tacoma’s timing chain.

What are the signs of a failing timing chain in my Toyota Tacoma?

Though Toyota Tacoma rattling noise when accelerating can indicate several issues with one of them being a damaged timing chain. Other common signs of a failing timing chain include difficulty starting the car, engine misfires, and stalling. The check engine light also turns on.

How often should the timing chain be replaced?

The Toyota Tacoma’s timing chain is designed to last for as long as the engine is operational. However, you should check the chain regularly for any signs of wearing out and replace it if necessary to avoid damaging the engine.

What’s the ideal Toyota Tacoma timing belt replacement interval?

You should replace your Toyota Tacoma’s timing belts according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Usually, it is recommended that you swap the belt after roughly 90,000 miles or about six years.

Key Takeaways:

Most Toyota Tacoma models are equipped with timing chains though a few older V6 models have timing belts. This preference is because timing chains are more durable and cheaper in the long run.

The timing chain in a Tacoma typically doesn’t need to be replaced during an engine’s lifetime unless it gets damaged. Regular maintenance, such as using good quality engine oil, avoiding too much idling, and preventing overheating, helps prolong a timing chain’s life.

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