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Is this a timing belt problem?

A few months ago my Odyssey began to intermittently miss or drive a bit jerky then it would lose power slightly then quickly pick up again. The check engine light would come on, but it would go off again. I took it to the mechanic who diagnosed oxygen sensor, distributer and spark plugs and replaced all for $800. It drove fine for awhile, then repeated the same behavior. I took it back to the mechanic who now decides it is a timing belt issue but because it has 234,000 miles he determined it a “junk car.” This he said after collecting my $800 when he told me it was such a good car it was worth it. It has been a great car never failing me and runs very smoothly without any noises previously. This mechanic took the distributer out and apart, broke the new valve cover gasket he’d put on called me, said it was junk and I wouldn’t get over $200 for it and wanted to take the other new parts he put on so he could resell them. In a second opinion from another mechanic I was told as long as the engine didn’t overheat he could fix it. To make a long story short, he surprisingly looked at it after I towed it to him with all the parts out of place inside the engine and told me that the original mechanic did not do all he had charged me for, fixed the car and even called the original mechanic (a longer story), but got me a $400 refund which paid him off for all his work. I got the car back 2 days ago it almost purred but now the check engine light came back on and it began to do the same behavior that I originally took it to the first mechanic for and as described above. The gas mileage has also been significantly affected. Also, I believe the 2nd mechanic got the compression back to normal in the 2 valves that had very low compression by the 2nd time the first mechanic told me it was junk. I have only had the car 3 years, but apparently it has had one timing belt replaced already.

While there is nothing to say your mechanic is wrong, but also there is nothing to support everything he is suggesting what he wants to do.  

How much do you trust this mechanic? 

Unless you really trust this mechanic, I suggest looking for a second opinion from a local mechanic which you have found by asking for local recommendations. 

I would not put off getting a second opinion as it is possible to destroy the engine if tim belt  breaks.  

You need to find a good local (not a quick oil change place) mechanic

Timing belts are pretty much all or nothing, they do not cause intermittent problems. If it is either over 7 years old or has more than 105k miles, it needs to be replaced. Check this post.

From your description, I am guessing that your compression issues were due to a valve lash problem. The second mechanic adjusted the valve lash that corrected the lost compression, but often, when the valve lash is so far off that it affects compression, there is an underlying problem with the valves themselves. Another compression test may reveal that the valves are now burnt, and it is not the second mechanics fault. Its just mileage.

But before we go any further, take the van to an autoparts store like AutoZone and ask them to read the codes for you. They do it for free (except in California). They will give you a cash register printout with the code at the top and the suggested remedies. Ignore the suggested remedies and post the code(s) here. The code will be a letter followed by 4 numbers. They can only read the P0 codes so it will be a P0xxx. From that, we can help you.

The ONLY way it could be the belt is if belt slipped a tooth. That is rare. Usually they break…and when they break the engine doesn’t run until they’re fixed.

I seriously doubt it’s a timing belt.

What year is this van? What motor is in it? Any vehicle with 236k miles might be getting worn? Could be burned valves, low compression, and so on.

I fixed the link in my previous post.