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Timing belt

I am thinkning about buying a 2004, Isuzu Rodeo, 4X4, 50,000-60,000 miles for $500. The vehicle’s timing belt broke and the owner continued to drive it for an unknown distance. This was approximately 30 days ago. I need to know the worst case scenario for the vehicle and what I can do to check it. I am looking at the vehicle as an investment for resale. Thanks for the help.

When A Timing Belt Breaks The Engine No Longer Runs, Period. The Only Driving Is To The Roadside.

Are you sure it was the timing belt that broke ?

I believe both the 3.2L & 3.5L engines that were installed in these vehicles are both “interference” design. When a timing belt breaks the result is just about 100% certain to result in some pretty severe engine damage. This isn’s just a belt replacement job. There is probably hundreds of additional dollars of damage that only a tear-down could adequately assess.

That’s why it is now a $500 car.

I would talk to Isuzu mechanics and inquire as to the typical repair bill whe one neglects maintaining their Rodeo to the point of a broken timing belt. I wonder what else went neglected?


It depends on if this is a clearance or non-clearance eng. If the valves hit the pistons then either the vavle can break or the piston head can break. If it is a clearance eng than no damage is done and you just replace the belt.

i spent a moment checking the Dayton Timing Belt manufactures chart and both the 3.2 & 3.5 v6 engines are “interference” engines. That means they are damaged if the belt broke while the engine was running. the valves collide with the pistons and serious damage results. Walk away from it.

According to the Gates folks, neither of the engines that were available on the 2004 Rodeo were interference engines. That is the good news.

The bad news is that someone is lying to you if they claim that the owner continued to drive it after the belt snapped. He may have been able to coast for a few hundred feet, but he could not have driven the vehicle under its own power once the timing belt snapped.

The obvious lie should make you wonder about the overall condition of the vehicle. If someone was stupid enough to drive the vehicle beyond the mfr’s recommendation for timing belt replacement, there is a strong possibility that other vital maintenance has been skipped also. The lie about driving it after the belt snapped is possibly an attempt to explain other problems that exist with this vehicle.

That being said, I guess that it is probably worth $500 if you can do the repair work yourself, but then again–since it is an Isuzu (e.g.–a brand that was never exactly ‘state of the art’ and is now “orphaned” in the US)–perhaps even $500 is too much for a poorly maintained specimen with a snapped timing belt. This is a judgment call on the part of the OP.

You cannot drive with a broken timing belt. The engine will not run. All you can do is coast to a stop. Something is fishy with this story.

I think I’d find something else to “invest” in.

VDC Driver, Are You Sure ? I’ve Checked The Gates Site Twice And Both Engines Show “Interference”.

I am checking with the “Interference Engine ? -Find Out” selection. I didn’t download the replacement catalog. Which method are you employing ? What did I do wrong ?


Unless you are looking at a different Gates site than I am, it lists both of those engines as having a water pump driven by the timing belt (# symbol), but it does not list them as interference engines
(* symbol).

I am relying on their replacement guide as the source of my information.
Is that information different from their other section that lists interference engines?
Or, is it my tired old eyes that are the problem?

and buy something without an interference engine. It should be unlawful to produce such an engine.

I Can’t Tactfully Answer Question #2, But Have A Look Using The . . .

. . . “Got An Interference Engine ? -Find Out Now” selection.

Maybe it’s my eyes. I’m actually having a problem with one of them right now.

Here’s what it shows:

Timing Component Kit
Timing Belt Component Kit W/Water Pump TCKWP303 Interference engine application
Timing Belt Component Kit TCK303 Interference engine application; Does not include cam. tensioner hyd. assy.
Cam. Belt Automotive Timing Belt T303 Interference


A timing belt can partially fail, and slip a tooth or two, and still be driven. If it didn’t actually break, or even if it did, but good luck was present, there may be no engine damage. That wouldn’t square up with a $500 price tag, obviously. Your worst case scenario is a ruined engine, which you will need to be able to start, or else disassemble, to ascertain.

Worst case hmm. Look do not buy the car if it does not run. I understand your issue I bought a car for 500 that needed a 3500 rebuild according to the dealer. I replaced the head gaskets and connecting rod bearings at 85k miles. drove it 4 years sold it for 500. It was put away this year with 160k+. You need to know what happened. You could take off the valve cover and turn the engine or put a pressure hose to the sparkplug hole on a cylinder and rotate the engine by hand and see how much pressure the cylinder pushes back. If the valve is damaged it will not hold any pressure at all. Check all cylinders this way if one looks good. Interference engine sometimes means that the valves have a cutout in the cylinder head to prevent damage. Most of the times it means the valves get bent. If it was really a timing belt the car never drove after that. If the car starts even badly the belt slipped a notch and needs work that should fix it.

I’m wondering if it was the serpentine belt that broke rather than the timing belt. The owner could continue to drive the car but it would overheat. If the engine overheated badly, it would be trashed just had the timing belt broken on an interference engine. In any case, this doesn’t sound like a good investment of $500.


Belts usually break before they slip. Chains on the other hand will slip before they break.

The worst case scenario is the motor would be completely shot. It is locked up now? A seized motor could be a broken timing belt, or it could mean the car was run without oil and burned up internally.

If the motor spins when you crank the starting motor then it is not seized up and perhaps can be repaired. You’d have to troubleshoot whether you have gas, spark, and compression and see if you can find the problem. The motor oculd jump out of time for some reason and stop running.

See if used motors (the exact year, model, size) are available for the vehicle and what the cost of a used motor installed would be. Then see the true market value of the car and see it the project is worth the money, time, and effort on your part.

Isuzu Rodeo’s aren’t cars that lots of folks out there can’t wait to buy. If the cost of a new motor is 1/2 or more the TMV book value of the car - don’t bother.