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Broken Timing Chain on 2007 Ford Focus

Ford Focus. 2007. 96,000 miles

I took my car to a shop For a tire alignment. I’ve been a customer of this shop for about a year now and trusted their recommendations. The owner recommended to have my chassis and suspension inspected which I agreed to. Once this was done it was recommended to replace my Front Engine Crank seal which I also agreed on due to an identified leak. 30 miles after the repair was made my car does not start. I take it back to them and the shop tells me I’ll have to replace the engine. I had a licensed mechanic friend drop by and he saw a broken timing belt on the engine.

When the owner tried to sell me on the engine he never once mentioned a broken timing belt as the cause for the engine breaking. He later came back and offered to replace the motor at his cost of $1500 which he would make ‘no’ money on. He also asserts that he only had to move the timing chain cover and didn’t have to mess with the timing chain to make the repair. I believe he’s trying to pull one over on me.

My questions:

Is he trying to pull one over on me?

Is it possible for the timing chain to just break?

Would he have to mess with the timing chain to access the front crank seal?

Is it possible for my car to run with an improperly installed chain and if so how? How could it have ran without issue and crapped out at 30 miles with no warning signs?

Last but not least:

Is he at fault for my engine breaking?

Yes. Not a common occurance but possible. Impossible for us to tell if he is at fault. Even if I examined the car and disassembled the engine myself, I’d have little certainty that the shop was responsible.

I don’t think he is trying to pull one over on you as much as he feels bad this happened right after his shop worked on your car.

Be clear though, this car has a timing chain, not a belt.

… and increasingly possible if the OP used “extended” oil change intervals, and/or if he ever allowed the engine to run with a very low oil level.

If it helps I’ve gotten all oil changes through him at regularly scheduled intervals. My car had been on a lift three times within the past month for tires and no one mentioned an oil leak. Not that I expect a tire center to mention such a thing but I feel if it was an issue someone would have brought it to my attention.

What really gets me is how he told me he didn’t have to remove the timing chain to make the fix. Is this repair possible without removing the chain?

Yes. The chain is inside the oil cavity of the engine. The seal is between the oil cavity and the outside world. To get to the seal, the pulley needs to be removed, the old seal removed, the new one installed, the pulley is re-installed, the water pump and AC belt (or belts) are re-installed and that’s it.

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Thank you for your input. The owner asserts he didn’t have to touch the timing chain for the repair and simply moved the cover. Whether or not he feels bad if the timing chain is broken without prior warning (no knocking, no shards in the oil) all I can guess is that it was re-installed properly.

My only question is how did the car run if the timing chain wasn’t installed right? Is it a matter of the teeth being set wrong and after 30 miles it finally broke?

You don’t seem to understand this point… he didn’t need to remove or even touch the chain to replace the seal. He didn’t put it back wrong because he didn’t remove the chain in the first place.

Sometimes things just break.


I wonder if the crankshaft pulley was loose after the seal replacement, if so the key for the timing chain sprocket may have sheared.

Here’s a direct cut and paste from the factory service information, regarding replacing the front crankshaft seal

In fact, it’s the very FIRST thing stated . . .

NOTICE: Do not loosen or remove the crankshaft pulley bolt without first installing the special tools as instructed in this procedure. The crankshaft pulley and the crankshaft timing sprocket are not keyed to the crankshaft. The crankshaft, the crankshaft sprocket and the pulley are fitted together by friction, using diamond washers between the flange faces on each part. For that reason, the crankshaft sprocket is also unfastened if the pulley bolt is loosened. Before any repair requiring loosening or removal of the crankshaft pulley bolt, the crankshaft and camshafts must be locked in place by the special service tools, otherwise severe engine damage can occur.


Bingo! Thanks.

The shop is a well known chain therefore I’m confident this measure was taken. I won’t know what happened until we crack it open.

AAA? There aren’t any well known chains in my area that I would allow to perform engine repairs. Also I would be hesitant to have seals replaced on a 12 year old vehicle if there is no noticeable leak, no drips seen. Vehicles this age can have a lot of seepage and no measurable oil loss.

Chain . . . as in Pep Boys?

You might want to politely ask if they used the tools to lock the cams and crank in place, before removing that front pulley

If they didn’t . . . and you may never know the real story . . . I have a VERY bad feeling, in regards to your engine’s health

Call me a pessimist, but I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if the chain isn’t the only thing damaged

Might need the shop to install a good used engine . . . on their dime

If you’re not familiar with this engine family . . . or haven’t read the service information . . . it’s not super obvious at first glance that the pulley and sprocket aren’t keyed. Thus, you might assume you’ll just take the same approach, as on all the other front crank seals you’ve replaced in the past . . . :fearful:

I agree on all accounts. This scenario has never come up and the more research I do the more ridiculous it is.

Ps: the shop is AAMCO…which coincidentally is owned by the same corporation as Peo Boys. After an oil change that took too long I swore to never go back to those guys.

I believe AAMCO shops are franchised, individually owned. There could be expert transmission technicians in one shop and terrible hacks in another 10 miles away. A former co-worker has a AAMCO shop, he was in used car sales before, no transmission knowledge.

Abandon hope, all ye who enter here…

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Unreal. This is by far the most ridiculous design choice I have heard of to date…

european makers use non-keyed sprocket/camshaft connections… sounds ridiculous to me too, but … wow… it is what it is

Agree as well, it is stupid but the balancer doesn’t need to be indexed for the timing marks anymore.

Go to the AAMCO “mechanic” and ask them to show you the tool that locks things together before removal. When you get a blank stare, a mumble or anger, you will have your answer.