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I found your web site to offer more info on timing belts and their replacements than any other. We have a 93 Ford Escort Wagon, 1.9 liter engine, automatic trans, with 44,000 miles. The owners manual does not mention anything about changing out the timing belt (only on the 1.8 liter engine which is a Mazda engine). I even went to the local Ford Dealer and there is no official replacement interval by Ford. Yet, we have had experiences with timing belts breaking as early as 52,000 miles (this was an 88 Escort, 5 speed manual). The Ford dealer claims that the timing belts used in our vehicle are made better and should go to at least 90,000 miles. What is your recommendation? Should we get it done at 50,000 miles? Does age have anything to do with wear? Why doesn't Ford even mention this in the owners manual? Please reply. Thanks very much.

I'd be interested to hear what the manufacturer of the OEM belt have to say about that 90,000 replacement interval. All OEM belts are made by Goodyear, Gates, or an occasional Dayco. My guess is, at least from their ad copy to me, that they would recommend a more frequent change interval.

In fact I can still see the "smiling gates mechanic" poster saying, " if your car has 50,000 miles on it or is over 5 years old, replace all the belts and hoses no matter how they look!"

Personally most belts I've seen "run 'til they break" have over 100,000 before failure: but by then they are cracked and NASTY!

Your 1.9 IS a "free runner:" it doesn't usually bend valves when the belt fails.
To play it safe I'd replace the belt between 40 and 60 k, or within a couple of years. I'd do the other belts and all hoses at the same time. The next time I did the belt, I'd do the water pump too. (see CAR KILLERS!" at my website)


Car was running Great when I parked! When I tryed to restart after work the car would turn over but, no spark. No sparks was getting to the "new plugs". No spark was coming out of the coil. I took the distributor apart and the shaft coming from the engine into the bottom of the distributor was not turning. What do you think? I'm a military person in Naples, Italy and it is very hard to get good mechanical help on an American car and they don't have a dealer in Naples. Help if you can as I only have one car.

Probably timing belt. Remove oil filler cap. Should be able to see the camshaft. Have a friend crank the engine: No cam turning, timing belt gone for sure! I do the job for about $135. Don't know how many Lire or Euro's that is!
Check out we're a international network of auto techs............even in Napoli!


I bought a used truck and the starter went out, i have installed 11 starters from three manufacturers, new and remanufactured, and replaced the flywheel twice. the starters used to last a couple of weeks, now they dont last a day, they just spin and dont engage flywheel or they engage and chew up the flywheel. i have taken it to 4 different shops and each time i run out of money after about 500.00$. it is a 1986 ford f-150, 300 6 cyl, manual. all the shops say the bell housing is correct but they say that the flywheel may not be the right one, how can i find out what flywheels will work on that year and type motor? i've spent enough to buy two engines and trannys so far.... if i could tell what flywheels might work i'll go get them at the junk yard and try them myself, it's easy to get to and replace but i dont think the one i've been replacing with is correct. any info would be greatly appreciated...

There is a difference between the automatic and manual starters, plus a couple of different starter designs, but it sounds to me like the bell housing mounting holes are wallowed out/ deformed/ etc.


I think you answered it, but might 10-40 prove more protective in my late model Toyota in hot So. California summers rather than the 10-30 recommended?


It might. The only downside of a higher viscocity oil is the very slight fuel economy gain from a thinner oil, and in really cold weather the oil might not get to the far reaches of the oil system as fast. In your case, the cod visc. is the same, warm 10 points higher, should be fine. Of course, the recommended oil, changed regularly, should be OK too. One note: I've found the thinner oil will be "consumed" (i.e. use a quart between fills) in hotter weather more than the thicker multi-vis oils.

My oil of choice used to be 20-50 here in Florida. With the newer ones, I go about with what the sticker says: maybe 10 points or so higher like you're talking about.


I was on the www trying to find an answer for my problem. I have a 95 ford Escort with 105,000 miles on it! Yes, it has been all around the world and back! Well, I have kept it up, the oil changed on time ect. I have done all the work myself, the brakes, wires, ect. I am learning as I go!!! My dad make me fix my 1st car when every it broke (boy that was a lot it was a 86 tbird)! Anyway so I try to fix my car problems myself. The first and last time I went to a garage here in Louisville, KY they tried to totally ripped me off. Simply because I was female and didn't know what the hell was going on so after that I have always tried to take matters in to my own hands. But this is the first time my escort has broke on me!

Okay I will get to the point, I was driving on the express way about 65 mph when my car over heated well I pulled over checked all the rubber hoses checked the antifreeze etc. I waited a little bit and then began to drive again. It was fine for about a minute the it died! Well, I got is started again but everytime I would stop the car would die!!!!

Well, that is my sad story it sucks to be me!!!! If you could help I would just love it. I am just praying it is something small and something I can fix because damn it I am a collage student!!!! Thanks for your time,

What caused the overheating? Worst case scenario is a blown head gasket. Look for water in the oil, bubbles coming up from the reservoir tank. (coolant recovery tank). Could have overheated from a stuck thermostat. See if engine gets hot but radiator stays only warm.
Overheating (if water sprayed out somewhere)can soak down the cap, coil, or ignition wires, even some computer sensors and make it not run. Check out my section on "car won't start" for some more tests.
Check out for a good mechanic near you: not all the people on the network are good, I suppose, but at least they're up to date enough to have a computer and know where to go to find the answers to tricky problems. I'm a member, 25,000 techs nationwide.


Recently i tried to put a new accesory belt onto my 1990 cavalier 2.2 liter. I noticed there were two belts for, the larger one was to big yet when i tried to put on the smaller of the two it was impossible. I completely had the alternator taken off and i still coudlnt do it. How do i go about fixing this?

They're giving you the wrong belt. You need to find a good parts store: if all else fails, get one from Chevy.Belt catalogues (and I stock and sell belts mostly for this reason) are inaccurate and confusing. your parts guy is likely missing the little footnote saying "except 5 1/2 power steering pully" or some such garbage.
If you have your old belt, it can be measured. The "PK" NUMBER ON A MULTIGROOVE BELT IS UNIVERSAL CROSSOVER.


I just recently had my car in the garage fixing an engine mount problem that caused oil to leak from somewhere I don't know. I got that fixed and it's not leaking oil as bad as it was but it's still leaking. Some how when I got the engine mounted at the correct level I found out that I added a little bit too much oil. I finally got my car to start after a battery problem (I think), and as soon as it's starts there's white smoke blowing out my pcv valve ,the same smoke that comes out of my oil cap hole, there is also smoke coming from behind the engine. I also noticed black stuff on the garage floor where the tailpipe is (What is this stuff?). taking the car around the block I noticed it turning off whenever I stopped the car and then you can see the smoke. Do I need to drain some oil? What can I do to stop my car from cutting off like that? PLease Help: >1985 Ford Tempo GLX >Automatic-2.3 L Engine >4 cylinders- Fuel Injected (I believe) Check for a plugged PCV system. You have excessive blowby gasses, sounds like to me. In worst case you my have broken piston rings or somesuch.

Check out my website on "learn about your car's many systems". Read the article on compression for more info.


I have an 1989 Isuzu Trooper (2.6L, 5-Speed) that has 135000 miles. Recently I had a compression test done and the results were cyl1= 140ftlbs, cyl2= 50 ftlbs, cyl3= 80ftlbs, and cyl4= 140 ftlbs. Since cyl2 and 3 are adjacent, does that mean that I have a blown head gasket or a cracked head cylinder cover. It was suggested that I get the engine rebuilt, but I think tha's overkill and it would cost too much. Do you know of any Isuzu history relating to this problem? Thank you for you time and hope to hear from you soon!

Possible it's blown between the two cylinders. The other possibility is 2 burned valves. Do a leakdown test. (see my website under "learn about your car's many systems" "compression".) That will tell you where your compression loss is. As for rebuilding, I do valve jobs on cars with that many miles often. If the top of the piston is really clean, however WATCH OUT! This can mean bad rings on that cylinder. If there is a light coat of carbon on all cyl's, however, it should get by with just a top end job.


Had oil changed at auto repair shop and now it will not fire. Motors cranks but no start. 30 amp fuse under hood for F/P,emissions,air bag blows when key is turned on, before cranking. What do I look for?

Shorts are easy to find: opens are the problem. Replace fuse with circuit breaker (30 amp max). Use inductive ammeter. Each time the breaker cycles, the needle twitches. At the point the needle no longer moves, you're at the short. Probably a wire rubbed through which contacted when they changed the filter.


I have a 1988 Chev. C1500 2WD P/U with well over 100k miles on it. Two weeks ago I had the thermostat replaced and the oil changed. They had to replace a sending unit too, although I can't remember if it was the oil or temp. sending unit...I'm leaning toward the temp sending one.

Anyway....a few days after I got the truck back, I started hearing water sloshing around under the dash. I never actually saw any water, but I heard it sloshing back and forth as I would turn corners and such. Of course, when I took it back to the guy who fixed it, it was as quiet as a mouse! I STILL haven't figured out what that noise is. Now I have a bigger problem.

My room mate saw a puddle of something that looks like country gravy (light brown and milky looking, tasty, but I don't want it in my engine :) ) under my truck, and after careful inspection, I've found that it's on the oil dipstick, and I'm assuming that it's in my engine. I see it all over the bottom of the oil pan and under the truck, but I can't tell where it's coming from. I know that it means coolant is getting in the engine, but shouldn't they have noticed it when they changed the oil or flushed the cooling system when they did the thermostat? And the biggest question of all come my cooling system doesn't have oil in it? I looked at the anti-freeze and although the fluid in the overflow is dirty, it's not what it would be if it had oil in it. Also, when I take off the rad. cap it's as green as it can be. So, my question is, if it's a cracked head/block or a blown head gasket, wouldn't the two fluids (oil/coolant) be infiltrating BOTH systems? Is it possible for the guy to have 'done something' to make it appear as though there was another problem when in fact there is not? I REALLY don't want to think that....but it just seems strange that all of a sudden, RIGHT AFTER A THERMOSTAT REPLACEMENT AND OIL CHANGE....I get milky stuff in my engine. Thanks for taking the time to read this :)

You've got a blown head gasket or cracked head. The coolant can get in the oil but not vice versa: the coolant can leak into the oil return passages, which have no pressure. The problem was caused by the original overheating.


I stumbled across your Web page while doing a search on "oil viscosity". I'm driving a 1989 Plymouth Sundance with 81,000 miles; I'm up here in Pittsburgh, PA which right now is a pretty cold climate. Would it harm my car to run it with say, 15w40 oil, not just for the winter but perhaps in summer as well? How much difference, really, is there between 10w40 and 15w40? Thanks for any input-

Not much difference. The only downside to a thinner oil is in very cold weather the oil can get so thick, it doesn't get to some components in time. Actually, most newer stuff is using a 5w 30 oil: pretty thin stuff!


Thanks, George. I asked because at my last oil change I apparently got the 5w30 weight oil; this car does NOT like it. After about 20 minutes, my oil pressure light would come on, and I would begin to get heavy valve tap; I thought I was losing an oil pump and a second mechanic suggested trying the heavier oil first, before tearing the car apart. It improved the car's performance immediately. The valve rap disappeared, the oil light doesn't come on anymore, and the engine runs like a kitten again. I was simply concerned that maybe I'd gone from too thin to too thick. Car doesn't seem to mind, though!

Hey, down here in default oil is 20w50. I'd go for what it likes.

One suggestion: you might get someone to pull the pan and look at the oil pump, and strainer (could be clogged). Also check the bearing condition. The pan comes off fairly easily.
Even with the thin stuff, the light shouldn't have come on, etc.


How do you know if your car is "interference" type or "freewheeling" type with respect to timing belt breaking? Will dealer or manufacturer tell you? Gates belts website has a list that can be downloaded if you have Adobe acrobat reader. Actually, I've found there are only engines LIKELY to bend valves and engines UNLIKELY to bend valves. Had a car supposedly a "free runner" bend every valve. Of course, the owner had tried to tow start it at 50 mph!!!!!!!

Or tell me what you have, I'll tell you if it's an interference or not. I've got a short list on my website:


Sorry I did not get back to you sooner to thank you for the info re interference vs non-interference engines but your tip re Gates web site gave me the answer I was looking for. I'm up in New York and not a likely customer for you so it was good of you to respond. I hate the idea of dealing with timing belts as a service item. To me that is going pretty deep into the engine with a lot of potential for screwing things up. Lot of parts and bolts to remove and reinstall. Might interest you that Toyota dealers up here send out ads with a price of $199 to $219 for timing belt replacement, yet one dealer consistently advertises it for $119. Makes you wonder.

By the way your website mentions Sentras as "baddies" re damage from belt failure and some years ago I made it a point for my daughter to get '89 Sentra instead of '88 Sentra because '89 had chain instead of belt. But just after your response to my interference question someone else responded and happened to stress Sentras even with the chain as bad news if the chain goes. Well, two of my kids have the '89 Sentra and I don't see us doing any replacement and we'll just hope for the best. The cars I wondered about to begin with were '91 Camry and '93 Corolla which apparently have "free-wheeling" or non- interference type engines. Got a way to go before 60K so I'll think on it. Went through four '83 Corollas with the kids some years ago and all made 110K plus with original belts. They died from other causes, some violently as kids can eat up cars.

Once again thanks for the info

Make: CHEVOLET >Model: CAV >Year: 97 >Engine Size: 4CYL >Repairs: The radiator light in my daughter's care will not go off even when we put radiator fluid in it. We've checked eveything put the light continues to stay on we don't know what to do! Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Should be a sending unit with 2 wires on side of radiator. Disconnect wires: see if light goes off. If so, replace sender. If not, it's a wiring fault.


>Make: chevrolet >Model: cavalier >Year: 92 >Engine Size: 3.1 >Repairs: car d`ont start,when i turn the key to start a tic.tic.tic. sound appears. >the batterie is good cause all the electrical stuff inside work good and the indecator of the >the batterie on the dash is normal. i tought maybe it was the cold temperature that as frozen the gaz line. >i hear the gaz pump runing when i start.i hope it`s not an electrical module problem,cause the nearest dealer is kind of farof >my home and it will cost me a lot to call a towing.hoping to hear news from you,thank you.

>Check your batt. terminals: a dirty terminal will do what you're talking about.

We have a Ford F150. Recently, smoke began coming out of the exhaust pipe. We took it into the Ford mechanic and it was diagnosed to have a cracked cylinder head. Our warranty company is denying us coverage because they say that the cracked head was caused by overheating. Is this the only thing that can cause a head to crack? Second, would we know if our car overheated? What would be the signs. Also, do most things in an engine get damaged because of overheating? In their contact they state that they do not cover any part due to overheating. Would this be most engine parts? It seems like the warranty company has a way to get out of all repairs. It's tough learning things the hard and expensive way. Look forward to your comments.

Usually overheating is the thing that causes a cracked head. The only other thing would be a factory casting defect. Fords are known for cracking heads with the least overheating. It's possible for a clogged coolant passage to cause a "hot spot" which could have cracked it: unlikely, but possible. The rest of the motor should be OK.


>Make: Chevy >Model: S-10 >Year: 1992 >Engine Size: 4 cyc >Repairs: I don't know what exactly needs to be repaired. I am overheating again. I just had the heater core replaced and it was fine for a week. Just yesterday i started my truck and it idles rough. It shakes alot and there is a rattle coming from my exhust system from the front. Do you think the thermostat is gone bad because it has overheated so many times before? And why is it idling rough? Any suggestions?

Thermostats can screw up after a overheating (see my article on thermostats under "learn about your car's many systems" on my website). This would cause overheating, but not rough running. In other words, if it runs rough cold, it's not the thermostat making it run rough. You may have shorting plug wires which got water on them. That, combined with a bad thermostat, is the nicest thing it could be.

In all probability, though, you have a blown head gasket.

The sure fire check:
Remove the thermostat housing and thermostat
Remove all belts from the car
Fill the engine with water level with the top of the place where the thermostat bolts to the engine
Start the engine: look for bubbles at the hole where the thermostat used to be
Since there is no water pump, etc. to stir up the water, any bubbles have to come from a combustion to coolant system leak (head gasket, cracked head, cracked block)
On the other hand, if there are no bubbles, you definately do not have a combustion to cooling system leak.
Good luck!


I want to put a 4.3 liter (91 model) four wheel drive .into a 1985 S10 four wheel drive. do you know what I will run into besides just doing it .And what about the computer in 91 I will have to put it in the 85, do I just run power to it? if you can help me thanks and if not maybe you know someone that can

You'll need different computer wiring harnesses, probably exhaust, maybe accessory brackets. The A/C stuff will probably be different. The only way I'd attempt suchstuff would be to have a complete 91 parts truck. This is especially true if the 85 doesn't have a V-6 in it.


i have an 88 chevy astro. the other day while coming to a stop, my oil pressure drop to 0. had loud ticking. i imediately shut off the van and checked the oil. it was about half quart low. added oil and drove home. been parked since. can this be a pump, module, bad seal?? any advice?? i've been told that to change the pump, the tranny and engine may have to be pulled, does this sound right. please any helpful advice you may offer would be greatly appreciated. i understand that you can't diagnose without seeing, but does that year of astro have to have tranny and engine pulled to change oil pump?? i appreciate any advice.

Although you didn't specify which engine, the longest labor time is 3 hours for oil pump replacement: so it can't be necessary to pull the motor.
You possibly have a oil pickup screen which has either clogged with sludge or pieces of a nylon timing gear in the process of failing.


Hello, My car a little while ago had a stuck thermostat and got really hot but i let it cool down and then the next day i fixed the thermostat but my car had been running a little hotter then it had been earlier and the coolant level was getting lower so i just made sure to add coolant before i took off and now my car gets super hot super fast and steam runs off the back of the engine and coolant comes out of the back of the engine at a nice steady drip after you drive it. I think I'm going to find the crack, hole, whatever and JB Weld it but I need to know how to find the crack and if JB welding it will work. Can you answer this as soon as possible I appreciate so much. Thank you very much.

JB probably won't work. KW liquid block sealant probably would. Pour and run. You didn't mention what kind of car this is. You probably have one of the following peeing: Heater hose, manifold heater hose, bypass hose, bypass pipe: They put all sorts of little hoses in the damnedest spots Freeze Plug: steel from factory, they rust through. The trick is getting to it! Dorman copper expansion plug will fit in a tight spot.. Old plugs knock in, flip around sideways, pry out. Chunk of 5/8 rebar 3 feet long ground to a chisel point on 1 end is tool of choice: careful of that block!


help can't make it all way to ur shop even though u are highly recommended have 1987 chevy capric wagon 305 it has been over heating blew intake gasket on trip here from new orleans after that replaced and engine back flushed still too hot water pump checks out ok put on new clutch fan no help it gets up to 240 after 7 miles of country driving only way stays below 240 is to run heat on full blast tried to take out thermostat no help radiator seems fine would u recommend trying electric fan in it really need this car for family could the trans have any thing to do with it it seems sluggish and is leaking a little any help would truly be appreciated mechanics say it this chevy runs hot but it is overheating thanks

Could be radiator. Start motor cold. Leave cap off until thermostat opens. Put cap on, squeeze the top hose. Should be soft, squeezing easily. Now rev the engine and hold at 3000 RPM or so. Hose should stay about as soft as at idle. If it gets hard to squeeze, the radiator is restricted. A good radiator shop has a flow checking machine. You may have a blown head gasket. Radiator shop can usually check for combustion gasses in coolant.


Installed new radiator and it's running cool! THANK YOU!!!!!!

Hi, One of my sons, I have 3 teens, has messed up the threads on 1 spark plug hole. Can I tap it slowly or must I pull the head and tap it from the back side? Wouldn't the shavings be vaporized and blown out the exhaust port?

Grease the tap: fill the reliefs between the cutters completely. The grease will catch the shavings.



>I can get it: I highly recommend them: they work great! About $150 + $10 s&h.


I was changing my spark plug wires and plugs. when I took off the wire to sparkplug well #1 I found oil in the well! I checked the other wells, and they were dry. Ideas on the problem? Cost to fix it? I really appreciate any input on the subject!

The oil in the plug hole is almost definately the valve cover gasket leaking. It drains down the head and collects there. $40 fixes it.

George Economechanix

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Thank you for visiting the ECONOMECHANIX WEB SITE. Please feel free to comment. We also serve the surrounding communities of Alachua, High Springs, Hawthorne, and Newberry! Gainesville has been my home since 1974, and I've loved Gvl and the Gators since I came here in the fall of 1974 to attend the University of Florida. I loved it so much I stayed and opened my car repair business. Originally it was out of the back of a 1963 Chevrolet wagon, but in 1977 a fellow mechanic and I opened an auto repair shop with actual walls, etc. I stayed in the same location for 26 years, and recently moved my operation to property I bought 15 miles east of Gainesville. I am doing most all the repairs myself now, having reduced my overhead from $1500 per month to practically nothing. I do work by appointment only. I mostly work only on my established customers cars, but I will occasionally take on new clients. E-mail me and I will either make arrangements to look at your car, or I will recommend you to someone who will.

George G. Scott, Jr.


Auto, Car, and Truck Article List

ABS: Anti-Lock Brake Systems
ADVANCE: Car ignition timing
ALTERNATORS and Car Battery
BATTERIES: Auto, Car or Truck
CLEANING: Engine Cleaning
ENGINES: Car & Truck
FUEL PUMPS: Car & Truck
AUTO JACKS: lifting cars safely
LEAN "Car runs lean"
Limp Home Mode
MIL Light
NO START: Car Won't Start
OIL: What's right for your car?
PCV Valve
RADIATORS: Car and Truck
RICH: Car runs rich
STARTERS: Auto, Truck

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