Is a timing chain better than a cambelt?

I am thinking about buying a newer car. It has a timing chain which needs no maintenance or replacement apart from regular engine oil changes. Many of the cars I am considering have engines with timing belts which need replacing every five years or 50,000 miles if you want to be sure to avoid them snapping and potentially destroying the engine. My question is why do manufacturers design engines with belts rather than chains? It seems to me that chains are far safer, practical and result in less expensive maintenance. Are there advantages to timing belts that I am unaware of?
Timing chains are more expensive to manufacture, are noisier, heavier and require lubrication whereas the timing belt is much cheaper, quieter and in most part do not need lubrication. Yes, the chain should last the life of the engine whereas the belt would require changing (as you say around 5 years). Put simply, the belt is much cheaper to manufacture and tends to be less noisy.
Answered by Alan Ross on

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