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Old 10-17-2003, 03:53 AM
Greg in Oz Greg in Oz is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 627
Just how often should a timing chain be replaced?

At the risk of asking a question that has been discussed many times previously (a search of "timing chain" gives too many responses), how often should timing chains be replaced on various MB engines? Is there a listing somewhere?

I know that for say an early alloy M116 (3.8) with the single row chain the answer is "very often". The early M102 with a single row chain also requires regular chain replacement. For the M103 the popular opinion seems to be "never", despite that engine using a single row chain. How about the later M102 with a double row chain? Some suggest it does not need replacing.

My '90 190E-2.3 (double row chain) at 220,000km has a little chain noise until the oil pressure rises, mostly on a hot start. Should I replace it or maybe just the tensioner?

How about the chain in my '73 350SLC (3.5 iron block M116 with double row chain)? I replaced it about 120,000km ago. Recently I was getting some chain noise at idle during warm up. A new tensioner silenced it although while doing a valve clearance adjustment recently I noted that the right bank camshaft is probably half a tooth (or more) late due to chain stretch/wear. Time for a new chain again?

How about some other popular engines such as the M104 six and M111 four (each with double row chains)? Do they need chains replaced at any particular interval? Do I really not need to worry about our M103 now showing 180,000km with its single row chain?

When replacing chains are the joining links with clips satisfactory or should a rivetted join like with the original chain be used? Should tensioners also be replaced at the same time? How about guide rails and tensioning rails?

Does anyone have definitive information on this subject for the various engines? Maybe some of the knowledgable techs would like to offer their thoughts on this. It certainly seems to be a topic of concern for the members here.
107.023: 350SLC, 3-speed auto, icon gold, parchment MBtex (sold 2012 after 29 years ownership).
107.026: 500SLC, 4-speed auto, thistle green, green velour.
124.090: 300TE, 4-speed auto, arctic white, cream-beige MBtex.
201.028: 190E 2.3 Sportline, 5-speed manual, arctic white, blue leather.
201.028: 190E 2.3, 4-speed auto, blue-black, grey MBtex.
201.034: 190E 2.3-16, 5-speed manual, blue-black, black leather.
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