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2878 Views 48 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  ricksparts66
It has been a really crappy day for Melinda.

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I was at least able to coast out of traffic.

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So many parts for such a tiny engine!
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Thank God for non interference engines.
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OK, the only thing I'm really not sure about is setting the exhaust cam gear position.

I can get the crank to TDC, and both cams locked in position with the bar tool.

But if I understand correctly, there is some slack in the exhaust cam gear, for the VCT. Do I need to rotate the exhaust cam gear one way other the other to get the number of teeth right between the two gears?

I'm not there yet, but thought I'd ask for help.
Sure enough, the exhaust sprocket lines up 1/2 a tooth off with the intake when I have the cam lock tool installed.

Should I fight the sprocket it to pull it taught, or should I accept the slack and just tension the belt?

The difference WILL change the timing of this engine.

I'm glad this isn't an interference engine, but good lord, timing belts suck.
My '88 Pony was always about a half tooth off with the timing marks set exact. Best I remember I'd advance the sprocket to the next tooth on the cam sprocket and never had a problem with timing being off. I've never done a timing belt on a DOHC engine. Hopefully someone with experience with chime in. I agree timing belts suck. Years ago timing chains seldom had any problems over the life of the car but, now many cars with timing chains have to have the tensioner replaced during the service life of the car. The Versa I bought about a year ago has a timing chain but, it's an interference engine. I never understood any manufacturer building an interference engine and depending on a rubber belt to keep it from self destructing.
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I agree timing belts suck.
What was so wrong with having foolproof way to set engine timing regardless of component wear? Whoever came up with belt timing, and every other engineer to embrace it since, deserves a flat tire every month for the rest of their lives. It's not the worst thing on earth, but it fucking sucks.

I've got the belt strung up and tensioned, but am anything but confident about my work.
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Whoever came up with belt timing, and every other engineer to embrace it since, deserves a flat tire every month for the rest of their lives.
Of course the reason was to cut production costs and bring in more business to the shop bays. Manufacturer contracted cost of timing belts was probably something like $4. each vs. $20 for a chain. I guess they thought the average consumer would rather pay $1000. every few years to replace a rubber belt than pay an extra $16. when buying the car. My mom has a Husqvarna riding mover and the blades have to be timed to keep them from hitting one another. Last year the belt broke on it, The cheapest I could find the belt was on eBay for $50. If it had been a regular V belt I could have probably got it on eBay for around $10 or locally for $20.
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Well it took until about 2AM last night but she fired right up and has been running great today. In the end I didn't mess with the sprockets, I just aligned all three shafts and jammed the belt on the only way I could get it to fit.

In hindsight she had started running ever-so-slightly worse and making weird noises the week prior to the failure... now I know what to listen for when deciding to replace the belt next time. My odometer is at 106k miles and this may well have been the original belt. I got the car at 70k miles and it had a Gates brand belt, so I assumed it had already been replaced. But who knows.

In case it helps, here are the rough procedures I followed. This differs slightly from some of the other writeups I found, but doing it this way was super easy and straightfoward (just time consuming).
  1. Remove upper timing cover to reveal broken timing belt
  2. Have car towed home
  3. Chock wheels, lift passenger side onto a jack stand, remove wheel and liner
  4. Put a piece of wood under the oil pan and jack up the engine slightly
  5. Remove the upper engine mount by the timing area. Now engine can be raised and lowered slightly to help you fit your wrenches onto the bolts for the rest of the job.
  6. Remove the serpentine belt, the water pump pulley, and the idler pulley that's on the mid timing cover. It's easiest to loosen the water pump pulley bolts with the belt still installed.
  7. Remove harmonic balancer pulley from crankshaft (18mm, lefty loosey) You normally need an impact wrench here (or to bump it loose with the starter), but mine popped off by hand when I was trying to decide if I could get away with using a 3/4" impact socket on it since I apparently don't have an 18mm impact socket.
  8. Remove the mid and lower timing covers (3 x 8mm mid, 2 x 8mm lower)
  9. Remove broken timing belt, the timing belt idler pulley, and the timing belt tensioner.
  10. Remove valve cover: disconnect VCT actuator, remove throttle cables, remove spark plug wires, disconnect breather vent tube, and unscrew all the 8mm bolts around the valve cover. Blow out debris from around spark plugs before removing the cover.
  11. Remove spark plugs
  12. Reinstall crank bolt and use it to rotate the shaft to TDC. A screwdriver placed in the #1 spark plug hole provides the most accurate indicator. Make sure to approach TDC with a forward (clockwise) motion.
  13. With a 15/16" wrench, rotate each cam to the correct orientation, then insert the cam alignment tool. The tool will only fit the correct way. Do not attempt to turn the cams with the tool installed.
  14. Open the new timing kit and realize that you bought the wrong one, because it has one more pulley than you removed from the engine. Confirm that the belt has the same number of teeth, then measure all the pulleys to convince yourself that you can use the new set (just omit the smaller pulley).
  15. Install the idler pulley and torque to spec.
  16. Install the tensioner but leave the bolt loose. Rotate its various cams around to move it as far rearward (towards the cabin) as possible.
  17. Fit the timing belt, starting at the crankshaft pulley, but only push it partway on at first. Jam a towel or piece of foam between the belt and the housing there to keep it from slipping off or jumping teeth while you struggle above. Then feed the belt around the idler and onto the exhaust sprocket, keeping it super tight. Finish by feeding it onto the intake sprocket and fiddling with the tensioner until it will slip over the pulley there. Then push the belt fully onto each sprocket, and remove the rag from the lower sprocket.
  18. Remove the cam lock tool.
  19. Rotate the tensioner tab into the slot on the housing and tighten the bolt, then loosen it slightly so you can rotate the adjuster. With a 6mm allen key, rotate the adjuster until the indicator (arrow) is aligned with the line, then snug down the bolt.
  20. With your ratchet on the crank bolt, rotate the engine through several revolutions to verify proper operation of the belt. Readjust tensioner if necessary.
  21. Reinstall valve cover, VCT wire, breather vent, and throttle cables.
  22. Disable fuel injectors and ignition at fuse box and perform compression test (optional but easy to do right now)
  23. Re-enable fuel and ignition, reinstall spark plugs, and start engine to observe operation of timing belt. Check that tensioner is within spec during idle. Adjust if necessary (with engine off of course). Then torque the tensioner bolt to spec.
  24. Install timing covers, pulleys, serpentine belt, engine mount, wheel liner, and wheel.
For such a complicated job, this was actually one of the most straightfoward repairs I've ever done. The most frustrating part is getting the serpentine belt reinstalled correctly. Glad to know my engine is still in great shape with 160 +/-2 psi across the board.
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Now for some photos:

Here is what I meant about the teeth not completely lining up between the two sprockets:
Light Motor vehicle Engineering Auto part Rim

I'm not totally sure how this was resolved, but I just fed the belt counterclockwise from the crank, and cursed loudly until it finally slipped over the idler. Luckily the engine seems to run great.

Here is the alignment tool in operation:
Motor vehicle Engineering Gas Machine Machine tool

This is sold as Lisle 37410, and it worked perfectly for this job. It also includes a couple of parts that are supposed to help you find TDC, but as reported by ZX2Fast in his very thorough youtube video, this approach is less accurate than the screwdriver method, so I didn't use them. So with that in mind, if you are into making your own tool, this couldn't be simpler. Start with maybe 8 or 10 inches of 1/4 x 1" aluminum bar, and machine one side to a thickness of 0.194"

Calipers Measuring instrument Electronic engineering Engineering Service

Here is (I think) the correct adjustment of the new tensioner:
Automotive tire Hood Motor vehicle Automotive design Rim

One point of concern was that my timing kit, Gates TCK294A, came with (2) idler pulleys, whereas my engine only uses one. I read online that this corresponds to earlier model years of the Zetec (like through '99?), and that it would have different pulley sizes than I need for my 1-idler timing set. (Mine is an '01.) So, I set about measuring each pulley to make sure I could proceed with the repair with the parts on hand:

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I'm very confident that these parts are interchangeable, even though my timing kit came with the extra pulley!

I also double checked that the belts had the same number of teeth; in fact, they also had the same part number.

Ultimately, I decided to re-use my old idler pulley, rather than the new one. It had only 0.001" more runout than the new part, and it was made in a country known for top-quality manufacturing, whereas the new part was made in a large communist country located between Taiwan and Tibet that is known for its inferior manufacturing quality and its deep-rooted disdain for human rights.

Which one would you use?

Automotive tire Wood Rim Automotive wheel system Gas

FYI here is what I mean by "total thickness:"
Gas Machine Composite material Cylinder Machine tool

And here is how I measured the tensioner spring force. Note that this measurement is, apparently, not legal for trade.
Gas Automotive lighting Electrical wiring Electric blue Auto part
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Oh, and in case this ever helps someone else, here are the torque specs for the job as per the instructions included with my timing kit:

Font Paper Paper product Document Symmetry
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"Start with maybe 8 or 10 inches of 1/4 x 1" aluminum bar, and machine one side to a thickness of 0.194"

Hey, you're half a thou off!

"I never understood any manufacturer building an interference engine and depending on a rubber belt to keep it from self destructing."

Yeah, there almost ought to be some consumer protection law about that.
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What was so wrong with having foolproof way to set engine timing regardless of component wear? Whoever came up with belt timing, and every other engineer to embrace it since, deserves a flat tire every month for the rest of their lives. It's not the worst thing on earth, but it fucking sucks.
I'll take a timing belt over the chains in some of today's engines. GM's 3.6L engine routinely need new chains before 100,000 miles and that's a $2500 job at the dealer with 3 chains and a dozen tensioners and guides that are replaced.
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It might be problematic on an overhead cam engine, but the best timing set is a pair of gears, as on the 2.8 V6, or the "Big six" 240 and 300, the old flathead etc.

The gears would have a few thousandths clearance between the teeth, and maintain timing much more accurately than a snaking chain or belt.
I believe I read some time ago that a timing gear setup would cause havoc on the knock sensor. But I agree gears would be perfect.
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Interesting, I never thought about that. However I looked up "Ford knock sensor 1996 F150" on ebay, and it shows that the knock sensor fits the 4.9 engine (aka 300-6).

So Ford did use knock sensors on engines with timing gears.
It may have been an old school thing.

I could have sworn there was also some timing gears that were made out of a hard rubber type material to keep noise down but it may have still used a chain. Again my memory isn't what it used to be.
Both the Ford flathead V8 and the 2.6, 2.8 V6 engines used a steel crank gear with a fiber Bakelite type material cam gear, although aftermarket aluminum cam gears are available for the flathead.

The combination of hard, smaller gear with soft larger gear is very durable, and yes, is quieter.
I've never seen an engine timed with gears. But I'll take chains over a belt any day.

The 2L Zetec's saving grace is that it's a non-interference engine.

I don't have many standards when it comes to buying a commuter car, but I vow to never own a belt-timed interference engine.
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My wife has been looking at cars lately and thinking about buying one sometime in the next year or two. Right now she's only got a learners permit so until he actually get her license there's no hurry. I'm helping her and trying to stay completely away from a timing belt. I'm getting older and with chronic back pain I often don't feel like doing the things that need to be done. I'm already on a fixed income and in a few years she will be too so I'd rather not have an unnecessary expense that I know is going to roll around every few years that would probably cost anywhere from $500-1500 depending on the car. If she does end up with something that has a timing belt it will not have an interference engine.
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