How to Change a Timing Belt on a 1991 Through 1996 Ford Escort 1.9L

by Don Bowman

The timing belt on the Escort should be changed at 60,000 miles. A timing belt generally will not wear out but it will stretch. The belt is kept tight through the use of a tensioner. A tensioner has limited travel. Once the tensioner has reached its limit of travel, it cannot provide the correct tension. The belt continues to stretch and slips over the crank pulley, tearing the teeth off the belt. It leaves you stranded at best or destroys the engine at worst.

Raise the front of the vehicle and support it with jack stands. Remove the tire on the right (passenger) side. Place a floor jack with a piece of wood on it under the oil pan. Raise it so it just touches the pan.

Remove the accessory belts, right hand engine mount, spark plugs and top timing belt cover. Turn the engine to top dead center with the timing marks aligned. If you look at the camshaft pulley you will see a circular cutout with a ā€˜vā€™ pointing upwards. This should be straight up and aligned with a dot on the top of the block. The crankshaft pulley keyway will point straight up and the notch in the pulley will be above the key and should align with a notch in the lower timing belt cover. All three marks must be aligned.

Loosen the tensioner by loosening the bolt in the wheel and move it away from the belt. Tighten it just enough to keep it in that position.

Remove the inner fender splash guard, tensioner bolt, crank pulley and the timing belt. Look at the new belt and make sure that the teeth look identical with the teeth on the old belt. Some have round teeth while others have squared off teeth. They must be the same.

Install the timing belt starting on the non-tensioned side and work counter clockwise, keeping the belt tight on the non-tensioned side. Loosen the tensioner and allow it to put tension on the belt.

Turn the crankshaft two turns. Check all of the timing marks to be sure they are still lined up. If the marks are still aligned, tighten the tensioner bolt to 20 foot pounds of torque.

Install all components in the order you took them off. Torque the crankshaft pulley bolt to 95 foot pounds of torque.

Warnings

  • close Do not turn the camshaft or the crankshaft with the belt removed.
  • close Always turn the engine in the normal direction or rotation.

About the Author

Don Bowman has been writing for various websites and several online magazines since 2008. He has owned an auto service facility since 1982 and has over 45 years of technical experience as a master ASE tech. Bowman has a business degree from Pennsylvania State University and was an officer in the U.S. Army (aircraft maintenance officer, pilot, six Air Medal awards, two tours Vietnam).