When to Change the Timing Belt in a Fiesta

by Ben LeDoux

The timing belt is a critical part to maintain on your car. A broken belt will lead to costly repairs that could require a new engine. It's important to inspect the belt regularly for signs of wear so you can keep your car running in top shape. It is a well-known fact that the widely produced 1988 model Ford Fiesta had a bad pulley that caused the belts to wear quicker, so take note of that when you are ready to change your belt.

Inspecting Your Timing Belt

Unlike most cars, which call for timing belt changes around 70,000 to 90,000 miles, the Fiesta requires a timing belt change every 35,000 miles or every three years. Luckily, the Fiesta's timing belt is very easy to find and inspect. Pull away the alternator from the engine and remove the timing cover to get a clear view.

If you have owned the car since it sat on the showroom floor and haven't changed the belt in 35,000 miles or more, call your dealership and set up an appointment. These parts fall under the wear and tear category, not under factory warranty.

Otherwise, look for wear in the belt or cracking. Feel along the belt to see whether teeth are worn or missing. If so, take the car to a mechanic to have the belt replaced.

If you have problems with the belt's teeth, ask your mechanic to check the crankshaft pulley. Defects on that part can cause unneeded wear on the timing belt. A special note for the 1988 Fiesta: Ford recalled the tensioner pulley because of concerns that it caused irregular wear on the belts, so see your Ford dealer on what kind of warranty work you can have done if you have been using this pulley after changing your timing belts.

Can I do this myself?

This is not a job for the novice mechanic because it has to do with the complete functioning of your vehicle. You must tear apart a good portion of your engine in replacing this belt, adjusting pulleys to reflect the correct timing and make your cylinders all maintain a correct pattern. If this timing is incorrect, your rods could find their way through your engine and destroy it, essentially totaling the car.

If you do think that you have enough knowledge to do the job, a timing belt at your local NAPA outlet will run you about $65.

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