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Actually, a chain costs almost the same to change... both have tensioners and you have to take the front end off either motor. Now, if you mean that chains don't have to be changed as often, you are probably correct. I find both to be rather simple to change once you have the front pulley and cover off.
Every chain I replaced had a spring tensioner and required removal of the front timing cover.No, no, no, no, no! An overhead cam chain is far less costly to replace if you are smart and careful. There is no reason to remove the timing case. Simply use the old chain to pull the new chain through. Split the old chain at a convenient location such as the camshaft pulley, placing rags to prevent loose links and such from falling into the engine. Attach the new chain to the trailing link of the old chain with the new master link. Turn the engine slowly with a wrench on the crankshaft (do not use the starter!), as a helper guides the new chain in. When the leading link of the new chain comes all the way around, remove the old chain completely and use the new master link to join the two new ends. Turn the engine through several times with the wrench to make sure there is no interference, check the timing and you're done! Of course this only works if the old chain is intact. If not, removing the timing case is the least of the problems. Also, chain tensioners are usually hydraulic, not spring loaded like belt tensioners. They rarely require replacement and typically don't require removal of the timing case either if they do. This is from many years of experience as a MB tech. Now you know why I much prefer timing chains to the failed timing belt experiment of the '90s! I really hope Elio Motors doesn't go cheap here.