Mombu 2009-05-23 01:30:41
I thought I would run this by you all, it could happen to you.
I have a 94 Escort LX wagon with 70 K + on it. It belongs to my elderly
mother, and I’m not around much to do the maintainence. I’ve been
worried about the timing belt, but the manual lists no replacement
mileage, so I breezed past 60 K thinking I was all right. It’s a
Florida car, but what happened was I was up north with it, and it got
very cold very quickly overnight, and the serpentine belt shredded into
three parts, with lots of banging. So I pulled over and removed most of
the obvious pieces of the belt. I shut down all the electrics and
started it again, and a another piece of that belt whipped around and
snaked up into a gap between the timing belt cover and the block, and
snapped the timing belt. If I had been more attentive, I could have
crawled under the car and removed most if not all of the remaining
shredded pieces before I tried starting it. Be forewarned.
When I tore it down, the timing belt was in very good shape (except for
being catastrophically snapped). This is the first time I’ve done this
job, so the questions I have are : the gears are quite a bit larger
than the width of the belt, does it matter where exactly the timing
belt should be centered on the gears? The old belt was slightly off
center towards the block, but if it is off center one way or the other
too much, could that cause premature or excessive wear on the new belt?
I’m out in the boonies and I don’t have proper access to my tools here,
so how important is exact torque on the tensioner and pulley bolts? Can
I estimate these things, or should I just go out a buy a cheap torque
Stupid questions I know, but I can’t afford to have this happen again
with my disabled mother in the car, when it’s freezing cold out there,
or on the wide open highway.
Just trying to dot my i and cross my t.
Shoe salesman 2009-05-23 05:25:17
Its fine if it runs a little off center. If its way off center something is
probably wrong like the idler and or tensionor pulley bearing bad. Check
it/them for roughness and looseness. Doesn’t at least one of the pulleys
have a shoulder to keep the belt on track? Just tighten the bolts but don’t
strip them, if you don’t know what I mean borrow or buy a torque wrench Good
Fred v. 2009-05-23 05:25:34
The serpentine belt is not the timing belt. If the timing belt (or chain)
broke you would have bigger problems.
If you have a tensioner then you can just turn it with a
wrench to back it off and then slip the pully on. If its
similar to my 1.9l 94 saturn!
Backyard mecha 2009-05-23 05:25:40
I think that’s his point
It’s self centering, idlers and all else being up to snuff.
IIRC – If the Timing belt tensioner is spring loaded, you’re supposed to
snug down the holding bolt, crank the engine through for several revs..
then loosen the holding bolt and let tensioner take up any additional
I applied a little ‘extra’ hand pressure on the tensioner as I tightened
bolt to ‘very snug’
Yeh, I’m a Krusty old Geezer, putting up with my ‘smartass’ is the price
you pay..DEAL with it!
Mombu 2009-05-23 05:25:49
The accessory belt *shredded* longitudinally, with many long whip like
ends, with one section still turning the accessories. It made a
horrible noise, I thought I had run over a gnarly branch of a tree. I
knew I was in trouble, coasted to a stop, shut the engine down, turned
off the electrics, popped the hood, etc. After I cleaned it up, I
started the car, it started fine, but one piece of the belt still
remained, I could hear it banging, but before I could get the engine
shut off, that thing somehow got between the timing belt cover and the
block and broke the timing belt! Then I was in real trouble.
I was stunned at the amount of clearance and the size of the gaps
between the cover and the block. You would think that a mission
critical piece of hardware would be better protected, especially on
older interference engines. Anything could get in there.
I thought I would bring this up here, because it could happen to
anyone. Lesson : check your serpentine belt often. Replace it, it’s
much easier than a timing belt.
Anyways, thanks for all your responses, I’m going to try to finish this
up morning. I’ll check back with the result, and to see how the
discussion is going, but it is just too darn cold out there for me to
do the water pump too, and now that I have done this procedure once,
(probably twice before I get through) it wasn’t all that bad, better if
I had all the proper tools.
The money that I save with this (if there is any), I’m investing in
tools for this location.
Tom adkins 2009-05-23 05:25:54
On the 1.9 “Escort” motor it is always a good idea to replace the water pump when
doing the timing belt. The belt also drives the pump, so a water pump failure will
take out the timing belt. That’s a very common failure. I believe the 94 had the
tensioner assembly as part of it the pump.
Mombu 2009-05-23 05:26:45
I’m aware of that, but this is a learning experience with me, it’s
freezing cold, I’m outdoor in the boonies, without the proper tools. I
just can’t bite off more that I can chew, at any one time. Now that I
am familiar with the procedure, I should be able to repeat it
indefinitely, and I have two of these vehicles. So I finally got it
going, with only some minor issues, spark plug #1 clearance, the usual
belt nightmares, no 17 mm long for the engine mount.
Autolite stock plugs, are they c***? I just got some, so I had some.
the original platinum plugs have a HUGE gap, but the engine runs good
and gets good mileage (35 highway – 350 miles per tank).
Main pulley backup for 100 ft-lbs torque, is that a special tool? I see
some small holes in the pulley, is that for balancing, or does some
special backup tool fit in there? Anyways, all I could do was tighten
it with the biggest ratchet I had, and then hit it with the impact
wrench for good measure. I see a rubber port in the mud flap to get at
Now onto the water pump, thermostat, temperature sensors, O2 sensor,
hoses, vacuum lines, valves, etc, on and on and on, it’s a 10 year old
Is the valve seat failure problem for the 1.9 SEFI are real issue? Or
is that just the primary catastrophic failure mode? I know, question,
questions, questions, now I’m paranoid, see?
Tom adkins 2009-05-23 05:28:05
Yep, working outside in winter sucks for sure.
Autolite or Motorcraft platinum are the preferred plugs. IIRC the gap should be around .045″.
Most folks just use the impact (air powered). There may be a holding tool but I’ve
never seen one. The pulley should slop right off after the bolt is out.
Not necessarily, the 1,9 is pretty dependable. The Timing belt should be changed
every 40-50K miles along with the water pump. Every couple of years for the thermostat
as it’s a maintenence item. Not many vacuum lines. Check the PCV hose for softness and
inspect the large hose from the air box to the throttle body for cracking.
Not sure on the 94, never saw one fail. I’ve seen quite a few on 96 and newer
though. Failure is often preceeded by noise similar to a lifter tapping, sometimes
intermittant. If you start to hear “lifter Noise” have it looked at yesterday.
A lady friend had a 96 and complained of occasional “knocking” When I would look at
the car, it was quiet. I was in my driveway when she brought it for a brake job one
day, quiet as a mouse and running good. I started it later and it was running on 2
cylinders. Dropped a valve seat on #1 cylinder. To this day she thinks I broke her car
to try and rip her off. That’s the only 1.9 I’ve seen just before a seat failure.
Tom adkins 2009-05-23 05:28:19
never seen one. The pulley should slop right off after the bolt is out.
That should have been “….should SLIP or slide right off…..” If it slops off,
you’ve got problems 🙂
Mombu 2009-05-23 05:28:56
I hear ya. It’s always something. Live and learn.
Actually, it was fairly tight, I had to put a little cheapo aluminum
pulley puller on it, but then it did come right off with the slightest
leverage. When I got the bolt and washer off, and saw that key, and
then when it *didn’t* slip right off by hand, that put the fear of God
in me for a minute.
I do a lot of improvising out in the bush, without adaquate tools, all
the time. That’s how I end up mucking things up a lot. The thought of
jamming big daddy screwdrivers and crowbars into unknown (Ford) soft
metal hardware, and then banging on it all with a big hammer, gives me
the shivers, and I’m cold enough already. I’ve created more junk that
Here it seems like everyone has wideband internet, so this is the first
time I’ve been able to ask a few questions, and do a little research,
before I dive into something. If it wasn’t the first day of deer
hunting season, and a 4 day weekend coming up, I probably would have
taken it to the local mechanic, but with this hard cold snap, he just
threw a 3 digit figure out and said it would be a week at least. It’s
the first week of breakdown season here
Well, thank’s everyone, now I have to go and return all these bizarre
tools I had to borrow from all my friends. It’s starting to snow out
there in the ditch, and that won’t do the lathe and 5 axis milling
machine any good at all. 🙂
Dmtaurus 2009-05-23 10:43:41
My 94 dropped a seat in cylinder 4, parts got sucked through the plenum ,and hammered
pistons in cylinders 4 and 2. Big fix that one was. Also, be careful that the timing
belt tooth profile fits the timing gears. I bought an Advance tb and the profile, while
close, didn’t match the tooth profiles as it should have. Bought a NAPA belt and the
match was perfect. To loosen the crank bolt it helps to remove the flywheel cover, if an
AT, and use a large screwdriver to hold the flywheel from turning.