How to Replace the Timing Belt on a Ford Contourby Arthur Heberger
If you check the maintenance schedule for your Ford Contour, you will not see anything about the timing belt until 120,000 miles. However, many other manufacturers recommend replacing the timing belt at 60,000 miles. You should check the belt at 60,000 miles to see if it is getting worn. If it is, you're better off replacing the belt at that point instead of waiting for it to break and cause serious engine damage. It's challenging, but with enough time and the right tools, you can tackle the job at home.
Disconnect the negative battery cable. Loosen the lug nuts on the right front wheel with a lug wrench. Raise the front of the vehicle with a floor jack. Position jack stands under the proper support points and lower the Contour onto the stands. Remove the right front wheel.
Remove the splash shield inside the fender. Remove the drive belt. Support the engine with a jack stand or floor jack with a block of wood under the oil pan.
Remove the coolant recovery tank. Remove the motor mount and bracket in front of the timing cover. Remove the idler pulley, water pump pulley, crankshaft pulley and the timing belt covers. Remove and mark the cylinder number on each spark plug wire and remove the spark plugs.
Install the crankshaft pulley. Turn the crankshaft clockwise until the cylinder number one piston is at Top Dead Center and the timing mark on the crankshaft pulley lines up with the mark oil pan. Remove the crankshaft pulley.
Loosen the timing belt tensioner pulley bolt. Slide the tensioner away from the belt and temporarily tighten the bolt. Remove the timing belt.
Install the new timing belt. Start on the crankshaft sprocket, then the exhaust camshaft sprocket (the one on the right as you face the engine) and the intake camshaft sprocket, working in a counterclockwise direction. Make sure that the timing belt between the crankshaft sprocket and the exhaust camshaft sprocket is tight.
Install the lower timing belt cover and the crankshaft pulley. Tighten the crankshaft bolt and torque to between 81 and 89 foot-pounds.
Loosen the timing belt tensioner pulley bolt and allow the pulley to put tension on the timing belt. Turn the crankshaft clockwise for two revolutions, and torque the tensioner bolt to between 26 and 30 foot-pounds. Make sure the timing marks line up.
Install the timing belt covers. Install the spark plugs and wires. Install the water pump pulley and the idler pulley. Install the motor mount and bracket. Install the coolant recovery tank. Install the drive belt. Reconnect the negative battery cable.
Remove the support under the engine. Install the splash guard. Install the tire and tighten the lug nuts as much as you can with the lug wrench. Remove the jack stands and lower the vehicle to the ground using the floor jack. Finish tightening the lug nuts.
- "Haynes Repair Manual: Ford Contour and Mercury Mystique - 1995 thru 2000"; John Haynes; 2001
Things You'll Need
- Lug wrench
- Floor jack
- Jack stands
- Torque wrench
- The Contour has an interference engine. If the timing belt breaks, it could lead to severe and costly engine damage. Do not rotate the crankshaft or the camshafts with the timing belt off.
Born in Connecticut, Arthur Heberger started writing how-to articles and reviews in 2009. He has over 20 years experience in the automotive field, is a National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence certified automotive technician and a Hunter Engineering certified alignment technician. Heberger received his automotive training at Technical Careers Institute in West Haven, Conn. and Hunter Engineering in Springfield, Mass.