Escort - crankshaft oil seal while doing timing belt

I am removing the serpentine belt pulley from the crankshaft on a 97 Escort 2.0 SOHC, in order to replace the timing belt and water pump.

Question is… should I also try and remove the timing belt sproket from the crankshaft and replace the crankshaft oil seal while I am at it, or is that a bear of a job / not worth it?

If you have gotten to the point of being able to remove the crankshaft timing belt sprocket, replacing the crankshaft seal is not that hard. Usually this seal is replaced only if the seal is showing signs of leakage or if the engine has high mileable. You could also replace the cam shaft seal. Sometimes you have to decide to stop somewhere and accept the fact that you may have to go back in the future to replace something that has failed.

A set of small hook tools, from Walmart, makes removing the seal easy. Just slip the hook under the rubber lip, and pull. You may need to move the hook 180 degrees and pull, again.

Thanks… I should have mentioned engine has 110K on it. can’t say for sure yet whether there is any sign of leaks, but I’m fairly sure they haven’t been replaced previously.

My main concern is the timing gears/sprockets themselves that have to be removed from the shaft in order to gain access to the seal. Are they likely to be very tight? Would a puller be sufficient? Is it feasible/accessible enough with the engine in the car?

On Escort, there is a 1/4 inch gap, between the crankshaft pulley and the inner fender, to get a wrench in to the crankshaft bolt (I don’t think that changed on 1997s). You need a special flat, boxed-in wrench to loosen the crankshaft bolt. You can tap the wrench, with a hammer, to aid in loosening the bolt. You may be able to rent, or borrow, the wrench from an auto parts store. The crankshaft sprocket should be removable with a couple of large screwdrivers prying behind it. Don’t lose the Woodruff key (small crescent shaped wedge) in the sprocket slot. Now would be an excellent opportunity to change the camshaft seal, too. Be a good mechanic and use the Escort Repair Manual.

Edited with more info.

Thanks for the info. This forum is really incredibly useful.

One more related… what is the best way to lock the crankshaft from moving while loosening the bolt, with an automatic trans model?

Drop the dust shield on the transmission, and use a prybar to jam the flywheel. Another trick is to use a wrench large enough to contact the frame of the car, and use the starter to break it loose. Just make sure the engine turns the right way. This was a perferred method with my old Toyota, and worked like a charm. Of course, now I have pnuematic tools. An air-powered impact wrench does the best job.

If it isn’t leaking, just leave it alone. It will easily last another 30,000 miles. At that time you will reach my (arbitrary) 140,000 mile limit for Escort service. Then, I say to get your next car.

I finally locked the crankshaft in place by finding the small access hole in the bell housing and getting a long screwdriver blade in between the teeth and the handle wedged against the ground, the screwdriver being almost vertical. There is enough clearance at the pulley to put on a socket and a large breaker bar.

Good move. Leaking seals are often the cause for premature belt failure. I recall the first timing belt I ever replaced. IIRC It was on a late '60s Fiat. They had a recommended change interval of 20,000 miles due to constantly leaking seals.