I have a 1992 Tercel with about 145,000 miles on it, dependenable enough to survive 2 college students and now my cheap ride to work every morning. It was my sister’s car for a long time and I know the timing belt was changed at around 75,000 miles. It’s starting to do some mini-backfiring (sounds like a can of marbles being shaken), so I’m wondering since it’s time to change the timing belt if that will take care of the problem or is it related to something else in the manifold or exhaust system? Any ideas?
There’s the possibility the belt has jumped time and this is causing the ping (that’s what it’s called). And replacing the belt WILL clear up the problem. But belts usually break before they slip. I’d get it replaced anyways (since it’s due). Then look at the pinging afterwords if it still exists.
The belt jumping is not too likely-- part of the reason why they use belts instead of chains is that they’re less likely to slip. Sounds to me like a plain old timing issue-- check the base timing and also make sure the computer controlled spark timing is working.
A broken cat can also rattle like a can of marbles, and if it’s plugging up from being broken, could make it backfire. Or the backfire could break up the cat!! I would confirm where the noise is coming from first. If your looking at the timing belt due, and something like a cat, is this car the best place to put your money? Or is it time to move on?