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James, Ford Technician
Category: Ford
Satisfied Customers: 3543
Experience:  Ford Senior Master Tech, Ford gas and diesel expert, ASE Certified
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Escort zx2: Bought a 1999 Zx2 pretty cheap. The timing belt

Customer Question

Bought a 1999 Zx2 pretty cheap. The timing belt was shredded and we tried replacing it without the crank tool and I think we were a tooth off so we started over and did it right and the engine started and purred. We ran it around the block no problems. Next time we started it, it ran rough. A few starts later and it runs like garbage. Checked all plugs (they are new) and have spark on all cylinders. New fuel filter installed - no change. New serpentine belt, new fluids, all new filters. Sounds like it's running off timing or on 3 cylinders. Also it doesn't want to idle and kills and won't start....wait a few minutes and it starts again.
Any ideas before we give up and have to take it for diagnostic check? Sadly we might have to tow it since it always kills, so we'd like to figure it out at home if we can.
Submitted: 6 months ago.
Category: Ford
Expert:  James replied 6 months ago.
Hello, did you use the timing tools the second time around?
Customer: replied 6 months ago.

yes, crank pin and cam bar. It ran smooth as silk when we fired it up. Is there a chance the variable cam has an issue?

Expert:  James replied 6 months ago.
That is what I am thinking. If the variable cam timing is sticking it would cause the issue you are having. Since it rand great until it warmed up that is when the variable timing kicks in.
Customer: replied 6 months ago.

How do we solve, replace the cam, or is it not refilling with oil or ?

Expert:  James replied 6 months ago.
If you unplug the oil solenoid on top of the engine does the vehicle run better?
Customer: replied 6 months ago.

will try that tomorrow.

Expert:  James replied 6 months ago.
Sounds good
Customer: replied 6 months ago.

well we took off the timing belt cover and the belt was shredded towards the engine side. This was just like the old belt when we bought the car, so something is causing the belt to shred, but we can't see anything obvious.

Expert:  James replied 6 months ago.
Did you replace the timing belt tensioner? If the tensioner is getting to tight you can get this issue.
Customer: replied 6 months ago.

The new tensioner did not align like the how-to videos showed, so maybe it was too tight couldn't tell.

Expert:  James replied 6 months ago.
usually if the belt gets damaged quickly it is due to the tensioner