IMPORTANT The ZX2 Zetec is a non-interference engine. This means the valves are not capable of touching the pistons at any time. If your belt breaks, there will not be any valve damage. There are reliefs cut into the top of the pistons that allow clearance for the valves if the belt breaks. Most engines are interference and will cause several hundred or even thousands of dollars of damage when a timing belt breaks. Most shop manuals list the ZX2 as interference but it is not. Many people seek out this how-to because a mechanic has informed them that they have valve damage and quoted a repair price over $1000.
This can be done by people that can change their own oil. But, if you have any doubts about yourself then it would help to have someone more experienced then you to help. The average you can save doing this yourself, $250-350.
Note: if you have issues with the timing belt walking off the gears, then you may have a worn or tapered lower timing gear. The early engines had a two-piece design that was prone to this type of failure. You can update it to the later one-piece model. The part numbers for all the pulleys are listed at the end of this how-to.
I do offer a video how-to of this procedure for $13.50 shipped in the US. I will ship to Canada for an additional dollar. The disc also includes timing kit (the pulleys) install, VCT gear delete, and front oil seal replacement. There is a review written of this video on the bottom of the 2nd page.
A. Cam lock tool. Can be made from flat-bar stock (9" long, 3/4" wide, and 3/16" thick) or bought at some part stores. www.zxtuner.com carries it.
B. Metric socket set and box end wrench set.
C. Jack and jack stand of course.
D. Lug nut wrench or equivalent socket to remove the wheel.
E. Large adjustable wrench.
F. Set of allen wrenches.
G. Haynes or similar manual for torque values.
1. Put the passenger side of the car on a jack stand and remove that wheel. Remove the plastic splash guard that covers the bottom of the car and the passenger side. These are 10 mm bolts.
2. Remove the serpentine belt then remove the crank pulley. This can be done without an impact gun. Use an impact gun if you have one, but if you don't, then follow this procedure. Use the correct socket for the crank bolt (I think it is 18 mm) with an extension and breaker bar. Put the breaker bar and socket on the bolt and brace the breaker bar against the lower control arm. I used another jack stand and a few small boxes. The idea is to have the bar snugly pressed against the control arm and propped up from underneath so it sits square with the crank bolt. Now, dis-connect the 3-wire connector at the ignition coil so the car won't actually start. Make sure the car is not in gear and no one is standing near the breaker bar. Bump the key about a second in the start position. This should break the bolt loose and now you can go remove it. You can view a video of how to do this on YouTube or My Space <===== Those are links by-the-way.
3. With the crank pulley off you can now see the timing belt gear. Remove the splash shied cover that is behind the crank pulley. It is held by two 8 mm bolts I believe. Also remove the upper timing belt dust cover. These are 8 mm as well.
4. Remove the valve cover. Start by dis-connecting the VCT connector on top and remove the spark plug galley cover if you have one. These are 8 mm bolts. The valve cover is held on by 8 mm bolts as well. The one on the passenger-firewall side has a stud on it and will require the use of an 8 mm wrench or deep well socket. Do not let the gasket touch the ground. Soak the gasket in WD-40 so it will swell back to original shape and you can reuse it.
5. If your belt broke then you'll have to skip this step. This step is mostly to make it easier to set the cams at TDC since you can move them both with the crank and get the crank set at the same time. Now we set the cams/crank at TDC. TDC is Top-Dead-Center. It is the highest point in the cylinder that the #1 piston reaches on the compression stroke. If you have the cam locking tool, it will only slide into the back of the cams (driver side) when they are set at TDC. You may have to rotate the exhaust cam several degrees to get the cam locking tool to slide into the exhaust cam. This is normal because of the nature of the VCT. If you need to rotate the cams to get the locking tool in, then put the crank bolt back in the hole and turn the entire crank with that bolt. After the locking tool is able to fit into the intake cam (firewall side) then use a large adjustable wrench (or 15/16" open-end) on the exhaust cam (there are flat spots near the belt for the wrench to fit onto) to rotate the exhaust cam.
6. Now with everything set at TDC you can remove the old belt. If the belt has already removed itself (broken) then you still have to loosen the tensioner. Below the intake cam gear you will find the tensioner. It has a small notch on the front with a place to put an allen wrench and a 10 mm bolt sticking out. You have to loosen the 10 mm bolt. It is a small space and this is where a long 10 mm box-end wrench comes in handy. Loosen it about 3 turns and push that allen slot down (it rotates) and this will release tension from the belt. Slide the belt off. To make belt install even easier, loosen the bolt enough to pull the tab out of the back plate. This will give you more slack to work with. If you are replacing the tensioner, as you should be, then remove the bolt completely and remove the tensioner.
If you have a pre-99.5 with a two piece crank gear, replace this gear with the single piece gear. Part number is at the end of this how-to.
6a. Ford put out a TSB that fixed some of the issues with the new belt walking off of the cam gears. The problem is that the new belt would bunch up between the gears a bit when the springs loaded the cams and the VCT was being actuated. The fix is to set the cam gears neutral to the new belt. You'll want to remove the cam locking tool to prevent breaking the back of the cams out. Use a large wrench to hold the intake cam in place while you use a Torx bit (T55 I think) to loosen the intake cam bolt.
You only need to loosen it enough so that you can move the cam gear free of the cam. Now, use the wrench and the same bit to remove the oil plug from the VCT hub. Put some rags below the hub to catch the bit of oil that will come out. Now, the exhaust bolt can be seen inside the hub. It is an 'E' (inverse torx) bit. I've always just used a 12-point 16mm socket. Loosen the exhaust cam bolt enough to move the VCT hub (exhaust cam gear) free of the cam. Put the lock tool back into the cams and continue with the next step.
6b. IMPORTANT!! If your belt broke or skipped you'll need to reset the VCT gear. Follow the steps in 6a. to loosen the bolts then continue with the steps in 6b..
* Remove the VCT gear (exhaust cam gear) bolt and set it aside. Pull the VCT gear off, you should see something like the picture below.
Notice that there are three holes next to each other and then one larger hole by itself. This larger hole is where the VCT gear tab sits. This larger hole is supposed to be facing straight up like this:
* Once you have the hole facing up you re-install the VCT gear. There is a tab on the back of the gear that has to go into that hole. You should be able to feel it seat into the hole. If you install the bolt and tighten it with the tab anywhere but inside that hole, your car is not going to run. You'll have to find a replacement gear as well because it will bend that tab. Below is a picture of that tab:
* Once you have the VCT gear back on and the bolt finger tight, continue with the rest of the steps. Since you removed the VCT plug and oil came out, if you turn the engine over by hand after you get the belt on, you'll hear the VCT clunk and the cam won't move with the belt but will snap into place as you turn. This is normal because VCT uses oil pressure to actuate the cam. Since you drained the oil and the engine is off, there will be no oil pressure there. It'll actually click when you start the car for a second until it fills back up with oil.
7. Now we install the new belt. Make sure your crank is at TDC. You can use a screwdriver to locate TDC on the crank. Remove the spark plug from cylinder one (closest to the timing belt) and carefully insert a long screwdriver. Rotate the crank and watch the screwdriver move. When you get to TDC on number one, the screwdriver will travel up then start back down. You should notice that once it reaches the top and before it starts back down, that the screwdriver doesn't move for a few degrees when you turn the crank. That point is TDC. The key-way on the crank gear should look similar to this:
Notice it is pointing nearly straight up? It'll be facing about 12:10 because the engine has a slight forward tilt so it'll actually be facing 12 o'clock in relation to the engine.
Make sure the cam lock tool is installed and that the cams are locked. Install the belt starting at the crank gear and working in a counter clock-wise direction. This can be a bit difficult because the new belt is not stretched at all and will prove difficult. You may be tempted to try prying it on with a pry bar (or screwdriver), please resist the urge to do that. After you cuss a lot and the belt slides on make sure it sits just inside the gears the entire length of the belt. Now you can apply tension. Slide the tab into the back plate. Tighten the tensioner 10 mm bolt up just a enough to keep the allen key from falling down under its' own weight. Behind the tensioner is a back plate with a notch cut into it. You can see there is a line it is supposed to point to. Make sure it is pointing to it when you start to put tension on the belt by rotating the allen slot counter-clockwise. Now you need to hold that allen slot with the allen wrench on that index mark (usually around the 3 o'clock position) while you tighten the tension bolt. It is a very small space to work in and it will make you mad, but it has to be done. Get the bolt good and snug, 18 ft-lbs. Don't over tighten it, it might break off.
7a. Now that the belt is installed, you have to tighten up the cams gears. Starting with the exhaust cam gear, use a wrench to hold the cam still (leave the lock tool in, but hold the cam in place so you don't break the slots out) and tighten the bolt up to 30 ft-lbs. Now, hold the intake cam still and tighten the bolt up to 50 ft-lbs. Remove the lock tool and tighten the exhaust cam bolt up to 80 ft-lbs. Install the oil plug into the VCT hub and tighten it up to about 15-20 ft-lbs. All of this sets the cam gears to neutral and prevents the belt from bunching up in the center during VCT operation.
8. Now you can put it back together. If you haven't already done so, remove the cam locking tool. Rotate the crank with the crank bolt one full turn to make sure the belt isn't going to bind on anything. If all is well then you put everything together the way it was removed with the following notes:
A. Re-connect your coil plug if you removed it, some people forget then get scared when the car doesn't start.
B. When you install the valve cover, you need to wipe the head mating surface down to make sure it is clean. Here is the torque pattern and sequence.
Thanks to ZZZX2 for that picture.
C. This would be a great time to install a UDP
D. When you install the crank pulley, use some medium strength Loc-tite on the bolt to ensure it won't come off. Just get it as tight as you can. The engine will move but that is fine. The Loc-tite will keep it from coming back out.
Torque Values & Part Numbers:
Idler pulleys: 35 ft-lbs
Tension pulley: 18 ft-lbs
Part Numbers for pulleys:
Timing Belt Tensioner
Pulley (later model, 99.5+)
Pulley (Upper Timing Belt Pulley Pre 99.5)
Pulley (Lower Timing Belt Pulley Pre 99.5)
Crank Gear (single piece)
There is a part from Ace hardware that can be used as a lock tool. You can used the UPC code to find the part at your local store. UPC 038613114265
I did this from memory, so if you find that I missed anything, please let me know so I can correct it. As always, if you feel grateful enough to pay, my Pay Pal Addy is: firstname.lastname@example.org
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