Timing belt trouble


I have recently been having car trouble ( intermitent loss of power but no stalling) so I took my car to my usual shop, they kept it for two weeks because it was not acting up for them. they replaced my spark plug wires and cleaned my fuel injectors and test drove it then they said it started making a clanking noise and upon checking that they say that my timing belt must have been slipping causing the loss of power isue but now i need a new engine (1998 ford escort 120,000 miles) the thing is that I had that replaced 6 months ago at the vary same shop. My question is should that be the issue so soon after replacing and are thay responsible for the damage?


If your timing belt was slipping (and I am a bit skeptical of this explanation), then that shop has actually indicted their own workmanship because this would indicate that they did not do the job correctly when they installed the belt six months ago. If they did not replace the tensioners, then it is possible that the new belt might have been slipping, and there may be another explanation, but it would seem that all possible explanations point in the direction of a badly done job six months ago.

If this is the best explanation that the shop can offer, then I would say that they are not exactly the sharpest tools in the drawer. I would say that they owe you the repair of your engine, but it may be difficult to impossible to actually get them to honor this.


Even if the belt failed, they damn-well better be giving you longer than 6mos of warranty on a new motor, rebuilt or otherwise. The only way I can see this being reasonable is if they put in a junkyard engine or something.


I would like to know what motor is in your car. Is it a 2.0 SOHC or a 2.0 DOHC? Also how many teeth are they saying the belt slipped? If the car was running when you dropped it off and now there is a problem with a 6 month old timing belt I would like to know what they were doing to the car.


i have decided to take my car to another shop to have the engine rebuilt because i do not trust these guys any longer. 50,000 or 5 yr warranty on this one. lets hope i have made a better choice of repair shops this time. thanks for the help


it is a 2.0 sohc and they did not say how many teeth it jumped and i do not know what that means. I have little to no car knowledge. I just take my car for scheduled maintenance and if there is a problem


i have no record of them replacing the tensioners at the time my belt was replaced. so from your post my understanding is that if that failed it could cause my belt to slip and led to cracked pistons? that would mean that they can claim to not be liable for the damage and I’m just s.o.l. but well informed about timing belts and belt tensioners for any future repairs. thanks for the help


Is the car running at all? If it is I would take it to another mechanic for diagnosis. My research indicates that the SOHC engine is an interference engine. Which simply means the valves and the pistons use the same space in the cylinders. When a timing belt jumps time the valves and the pistons CAN come in contact with each other. This does not mean that they will. If the belt skipped and you do have valve damage it may be more economical to have a valve job done then replace the entire motor.
Before having the old engine removed I would have the new shop check it over and determine what the actual problem is. Good luck and keep us posted.


the car is not running, it has pieces of piston in the drip pan ( shown to me at the original shop) just had it towed to the new shop today and i asked them if they could tell me if this was caused by the belt slipping, they said they would check it out, so i am waiting to hear back from them.


Something sounds fishy to me. You took a running car into a repair shop, left it for two weeks for diagnosis and repair and now it has piston pieces in the oil pan. Even if the timing belt had jumped it is extremely rare that you break pistons into pieces. I wonder how many RPM’s the engine was turning when this happened. I would be sure to get a written cause of failure from the new shop.


I have to agree with Michael that something sounds funny here. Another tragic one.

The slipped timing belt diagnosis is one of those that I don’t particularly care for. It’s also easily verifiably if true by checking match marks and inspecting belt teeth. Considering you recently had this done, I’m skeptical. Very skeptical.

The chance of a piston just breaking for no reason is near zero. Piston failure is usually caused by excessive RPMS, timing belt off the mark (still should not shatter a piston, but at least possible), or excessive ignition timing (not possible in your case since your car is DIS).

A competent tech should be able to take a look at your engine, put 2 and 2 together, and figure out exactly what happened.
If belt teeth are not missing and other non-shattered pistons are gouged up from valve contact, then I would say someone at your old shop made a real serious error in judgement.

(For what its worth, my guess is that the intermittent loss of power would probably be a failing fuel pump. These can come and go, along with causing a bogging sensation.)

Hope that helps and good luck. Keep us informed.


thanks for all the info y’all have been very informative. i will ask the new shop for a written cause. Should i ask the new shop to look at my fuel pump while they have it ( i am kinda nervous about doing that, Now i have serious trust issues with mechanics (no offense) and dont want the new shop to just see me as a blank check).If it was another cause than the timing belt the the old shop just overlooked it or did not do the extensive diagnostics they said (but said they wold not charge me for since they did not find the source).Looks like i am just out of luck? this whole experience is really stressful and i only needed the car to last through this last year of school


There’s not too much they can do with the fuel pump on a non-running car although it is possible to connect an ammeter and check the pump current draw. A higher than normal draw could point to a failing pump, which a clogged fuel filter could be responsible for.
A fuel pressure and fuel volume test could also be performed.

Wished I could be of more help on this matter but without car in hand it’s near impossible.
It does smell a bit and I don’t have much advice about what to do unless the actual cause was determined.
If it came down to rebuilding an engine or going with a used engine, I would take the latter.
Some salvage yard will even install what they sell for a nominal fee so this is something to consider. Hope that helps and good luck.


thanks again at least i know what to ask for when I have them check the fuel pump.


Annecdotal evidence. I drive a '98 Escort ZX2 with the 2.0 DOHC engine. I replaced the timing belt myself at 100,000 miles, but being the cheapskate that I am, declined to replace the belt tensioner even though the Ford counterman reccommended I do so. The tensioner began to fail at 110,000 miles and the belt did indeed slip. I drove the car several miles with marginal performance then the belt slipped some more and I had to stop. This engine is apparently NOT an interference engine. I replaced the tensioner and drove on.