CarTalk.com Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Is there a belt inside the engine of a 2000 ZX2 Escort?

I have been told the reason that my car will not start is that the belt inside the motor either slipped or broke. They told me that the entire engine would need to come out. Is that true. Is there a belt inside of the motor. I know there is a belt on the side of the car by the passenger side front tire, but they told me there is another belt inside the motor.

Well, I think there is a timing belt inside a cover, but in previous Escorts and most other cars, you don’t have to pull the engine. If this belt breaks the engine will not urn and if it slips a tooth or two it might run but very poorly. I would have to be replaced.

The car ran very doggy all day, but I made it home. The next day the car would not start. It does sound like the timing belt then. Do you know how hard they are to replace?

Should A Timing Belt Break And Cause Pistons And Valves To Collide, Serious Engine Damage Would Result.

The timing belt is another belt “inside the motor” in that you can’t see it without some dissambly, first.

I suppose piston damage would lead to engine removal in order to clean up the mess and properly make repairs.

CSA

Step One: Diagnose The Problem. Who Told You That The Timing Belt Slipped? How Was That Determined?

Ordinary replacement of a timing belt does not require engine removal.

CSA

Yes, this engine has a timing belt.

As to whether it is an “interference” design engine, that depends on whether the engine is a Single Overhead Cam (SOHC) or Double Overhead Cam (DOHC)–some Escorts had one type, other Escorts had the other type. While this does seem counterintuitive, the DOHC engine is NOT an interference engine, while the SOHC engine is of the interference design.

I think that the ZX2 has the DOHC engine, but I could be wrong on this point.
Anyway, if it does have the DOHC engine, then there should be no internal engine damage.

If it has the SOHC engine, then it is very likely that there is expensive internal damage to repair. However, I don’t believe that it should be necessary to pull the engine, even if it is the SOHC type.

Incidentally, this belt is supposed to be “inspected or replaced” at 120k miles. If I was the owner of this car, I would have replaced that belt by no more than 110k miles.

I was not aware that I needed to replace the belt. I was depending on my husband to keep up the maintence on the car. As you can tell that did not happen. The car has around 150000 miles on it. I did have the oil changed as needed. You are correct the engine is a DOHC. Is that hard to repair?

Does the maintenance section of your owner’s manual tell you when to replace the timing belt? If so, did you do it when you were supposed to do it?

They are hard enough to replace that you don’t want to try to do this job yourself. Be prepared to spend at least $400. If the water pump is run off the timing belt, get a new water pump installed at the same time, and add the cost to your estimate.

I don’t doubt you have some mechanical skills, but if you were not aware of the timing belt’s existence, it is safe to assume replacing it is above your skill level.

Replacing a timing belt is NOT too difficult, but NOT for the novice. The hardest part is working on a Transverse mounted engine…So little room to work.

The good news is that the DOHC engine should require only the replacement of the timing belt, and the belt tensioners.

If you intend to keep the car for more than a few months, I would suggest that you also have the water pump replaced now, as you will save a HUGE amount on labor by having it replaced at the same time as the timing belt. If the water pump has to be replaced at a later date, you will pay once again for the removal and replacement of the timing belt, so it is very proactive to replace the pump now.

And, may I suggest that both you and your husband cooperatively try to keep this car–and all future cars–maintained according to the mfr’s maintenance schedule? If you think that hubby is taking care of maintenance, and perhaps he thinks that you are doing that task, then it may turn out that nobody is doing it! Or, perhaps he does not have good attention to detail.

It would be far better if both of you sat down with the Owner’s Manual every 6 months or so to see what needs to be done in order to keep the car running properly.
As you found out, repairs are far more expensive and much less convenient than maintenance that you can schedule to meet your needs.

Gates does not list the DOHC engine as an “interference” engine, so even if the timing belt broke, which is NOT difficult to determine, there should not be internal engine damage.

The belt isn’t really “inside” the engine, but it’s under a cover and you can’t see it when you open the hood.

I think you need a second opinion. If the engine was running when you arrived home the timing belt was intact, although it may have slipped. Either way, the engine does NOT have to come out of the car to replace the timing belt.

Timing belts are not the easiest thing to replace, but they aren’t rocket science, either. I’ve replaced four of them in my garage at home. If you pay someone it’s maybe a $500 job, give or take. There’s a lot of labor involved, which is why it’s expensive. The belt itself doesn’t cost much.

As I said, I think you should get another opinion from a different mechanic. Something doesn’t sound right.

I’m inclined to think the timing belt is not the problem.

If the car could be driven home even if it was acting up - and now won’t start - I think the timing belt is OK. Spark or fuel?

Good idea to replace it anyway!

I was thinking the same thing as CapriRacer. A broken timing belt would cause the car to stop dead in its tracks.

Step One: Diagnose The Problem. Who Told You That The Timing Belt Slipped? How Was That Determined?
CSA

I don’t think the timing belt is broken, but it is a possibility it is so worn that it is out of position and the timing is off.

CSA is right. You may be jumping to conclusions. And we’re so anxious to be of help we’re following right along.

I see things in your post that indicate that a slipped timing belt is ONE OF the possible causes, but only one. I too would like to know who “they” were and whether they had actually looked at the car before telling you this.

If so, the good news is that since you simply “ran doggy all day” you have likely done no engine damage and need the belt, water pump, and perhaps tensioner replaced. No, this does not require engine removal. Yes, it’s the “belt inside the motor”. Under an external cover, actually.

If the person that told you this did no diagnosis, then you need to start from scratch. The possibilities range from a bad fuel pump to a sensor gone bad to an ignition system problem. There are a whole list of possibilities.

I should add that even of the problem lies elsewhere the belt and water pump are overdue anyway.

The water pump on this car is not driven by the timing belt. Also, it IS likely that the timing belt tensioner has failed before the belt, causing the belt to slip. I had the same car, and the first tensioner failed at 100K and the replacement tensioner failed at 90K. The car would still run, but poorly.