Valve Problems

I have a 2000 Ford Escort ZX2 with 92,000 miles on it. It recently died in the middle of the road but immediately restarted but ran as if it were on 2 cylinders as opposed to 4. I took it immediately to a mechanic. I was told the timing belt had broke some teeth. So I got that fixed and asked if that fixed the problem to do a deperately needed tune-up. After the timing belt and tune-up I then get a call that apparently 2 valves are bent, they think, but likely. I paid for the labor ($420) for what they had done and they want $1100 more to fix the valves. I am a bit irritated with this particular mechanic. My questions are is $1100 a good price for that and is it worth spending the money to do?

Sounds like they’re being legit. And the prices don’t sound out of line. Whether it’s worth it is a judgement call.

Suggestion; next time the car breaks down, call a towtruck. You might have saved the valves. Maybe, maybe not, but by driving it you did yourself no favors.

Thank you for the reply and I do believe the price for fixing it is legit. However, after they fixed the timing belt they drove it and said it was good it just needed a tune-up. So I gave them permission to do the tune-up then they called about the valve problem. Now it runs worse then it did when I took it in. This whole process took a week to discover.

It was bad that they said the car needed a “tune-up” when the possibility of bent valves existed.

As soon as they saw the engine had a timing belt concern the should have informed you of the possibility of valve train damage.

After they fixed the belt and started the car and it didn’t run right they should have checked for valve train damage first.

It’s up to you if you want to use this shop again,I say no.

Thank you for the reply

It’s a pretty shaky shop IMHO. They should verify any mechanical problems BEFORE replacing the timing belt and performing a tune-up. It’s easy to do and prevents problems like this.

I’d be a bit irritated too and unfortunately, this kind of thing is somewhat common. Throw parts at a problem rather than perform Step No. 1 which is making sure things are fine in the engine mechanically.

Having reread the original post, it still sounds like they probably did nothing wrong. They proceeded to replace the timing belt, moved on to the tuneup (which, without further information I have to assume it probably did need) and discovered bent valves.

Should they have checked the valves via either a vacuum test or compression test after changing the belt? Perhaps. But if it was clearly in need of a tuneup I can’t honestly fault them for starting there.

I will agree that the possibility of bent valves should have been pointed out right from the start.

I saw nothing in the fisrt post to point at the shop, since a vehicle with 92,000 could easily have been due a tuneup as well as the repairs. At 92,000 it was probably due for a tuneup anyway.

Having read the followup post, that they test drove the vehicle and said nothing about the possibility of bent valves, and that this whole process took a week, does make me wonder.

I’m just glad everything is apparently now being done.

Actually, the car is just sitting waiting for me to decide what to do with it. If it is worth fixing since I have heard that once you replace valves the engine is never the same.

My point is that it is very easy to check for bent valves without replacing the belt, running a compression test, or even running up a bill.

The easiest way is to bring each cylinder up to the top of its compression stroke and apply a llttle compressed air. If air hisses back out the intake tract then the intake valves are more than likely bent.
(The intake valves are larger than the exhaust so in an interference engine the intakes will hit the piston whereas the exhaust valves will clear.)

Another method is to remove the valve cover and see if there is excessive valve lash on the intake valves. This can be caused by the bent valve(s) not being able to seat all the way and this in turn leads to more clearance, or lash as it’s called.

There is nothing wrong with repairing a cylinder head that has been damaged IF it is done properly.
A much cheaper option would be to find a used cylinder head and install that.
(A word of caution. If the pistons are nicked up by the valves these nicks MUST be filed or ground down a bit. Sharp edges must NOT be allowed to remain as these sharp edges will become red hot and cause severe detonation. This will come across as a very loud knocking sound.)

Is this engine in the group that the question “will valve damage occour if timing belt breaks or slips” not able to be answered with 100% accuracy.

I must admit I did not think of testing for bent valves before replacing the belt and seeing how the engine ran,but I would have before I did a tune-up.

A quick look at the chart shows that it depends. The 2.0 SOHC is non-interference and the 2.0 DOHC is shown to be an interference engine.

The part that made me antsy is that it says that the belt on the interference engine should be inspected and replaced as necessary at 120k miles with no specific factory recommendation.
I would never allow a belt to go this many miles on an interference engine, much less a belt that in this case is 9 years old (unless it was replaced in the past).

I have a ZX2 with the 2.0 DOHC engine and I don’t think that this is an interference engine even though I have seen ome reference that says it is. My owner’s manual does not even include the timing belt replacement in the maintenance schedule. My timing belt tensioner failed once and the belt slipped without damaging the valves. Did they replace the tensioner? It should have been done along with the belt replacement.

The mechanic did tell me that it is an interference engine and no they did not replace the tensioner when they replaced the belt.

It’s sounding more and more like a pretty shaky shop to do business with. They perform all of this work without verifying whether there is engine damage or not and have now apparently failed to replace the tensioner with the belt; which is of course, a big no-no. And it can be an expensive one if the tensioner fails 2 weeks after the repair.

I believe I would find a good used cylinder head and have the vehicle towed elsewhere.
You might find a deal in this stuff.

Thank you for the advice. The car has already been towed to my house.

Hey, if the cylinder won’t hold compression it really doesn’t matter whether it’s the intake or exhaust valves whose stems are bent. That’s really easier than checking valve lash.

I guess I can’t get too cranked up about starting it up before checking for bent valves after changing the belt. However, had I originally known they’d performed a test drive and attributed poor operation to a tuneup my eyebrows would have raised.

Properly repaired it can be the same. However, it’ll be the same ol’ eight year old Escourt with 92,000 miles. Whether that makes it worth it or not is a highly subjective decision.

With the proper parts and tools, other than being time consuming, is this a fairly easy fix for a shade tree mechanic?

Remember that when you pull and replace the head you’re pulling the very valvetrain that’s driven by the timing belt. Critical points are proper timing of the valvetrain on the replacement head and proper torquing of the head bolts. Also clean and flat mating surfaces. Inspect the new head for valve condition and flatness. Beyond that, pick up a manual and study the procedure. See if it looks within your comfort zone.