Driving at about 30mph with no prior symptoms, this Contour suddenly lost all (90%+ anyway) power. The engine continued to run and didn't sound bad. I was able to limp it into a parking lot. At this point, the engine started and idled fine but application of the gas just inched the car foward and back (drive and reverse). It also had a growly (deep low sound) exhausty sound at the motor when I'd rev the engine in park.
Since the repair shop was only a half mile down the road, I decided to try to inch it there rather than call for a tow. Eventually, the car was able to gain more speed (up to 30 mph) but then completely died (the engine stopped) as I pulled into the lot. At this point the car would no longer start. A shop mechanic, only by opening the hood and cranking it over, diagnosed that it needed a timing belt and quoted $850 to fix it.
Long story short, I had a friend of a friend DIYer try to fix it at a reduced ($500) rate. He said the timing belt was tight but shredded on one side. He replaced the TB but said there were issues with the VCT solenoid which, of course, would require more $$$. He wasn't confident and so we parted ways.
So - I'm trying to wrap my head around what happened and what really needs to be done. Currently, the engine runs terribly rough and dies soon after starting it - which makes me think its not properly timed. My questions are these:
1. What may have originally caused the loss of power?
2. Could this same problem have then damaged the TB?
3. With a new TB, shouldn't the engine run fine again regardless of any problems with the VCT solenoid?
4. Any other input is appreciated - except for the part about hiring someone I dont know... that lesson I've learned well.