Ford Focus MK2 - Timing belt - to change or not change? - Gary Gunning

I have a Ford Focus MK2 1.6 petrol 74KW 100PS and have been told by a Ford dealer that my timing belt needs done after 8 years or 100,000 miles. My car has recently became 8 years old (end of July 2018) but has only just done under 69,000. I bought the car April 2017 when it had 47,500 miles on the clock so am wondering if the timing belt will need done?

The vast majority of my driving is motorway driving so shouldnt have done too much to the. At this moment in time I am unaware of the condition of my timing belt (will have a look) but think its in decent condition as when my MOT was done in March this year there was no mention of it looking worn etc. Any help in what I should do? Thanks

Ford Focus MK2 - Timing belt - to change or not change? - SLO76
The Mot doesn’t involve checking your timing belt or most other service items for that matter. It’s a safety check not a service. It’s also impossible to really check the belt in situ as the deterioration often only shows when you flex the thing after removal. Rubber deteriorates over time, especially in an environment where it’s constantly under tension and experiencing extreme heat variations. That said the Yamaha designed engine in your Focus is not hard on belts and failure is quite rare. If you like the car, intend on keeping it longterm and need it to be totally dependable then I’d spend the £300 or so to do it and the tensioner. Plus I’d change the ancillary belt at the same time, it costs buttons extra.

Edited by SLO76 on 04/09/2018 at 15:26

Ford Focus MK2 - Timing belt - to change or not change? - skidpan

My Puma had the very same engine as the 1600 Focus and although its a few years since I sold it I seem to remember the quoted max interval was 10 years or 100,000 miles. The unrelated 2 litre Mondeo and Focus engines certainly had 10 year 100,000 miles intervals and when I changed mine at 10 years but well under 100,000 miles the tensioning pulley had significant play. Considering its all under a plastic cover its impossible to check at service time without some awkward part and cover removal, by the time the covers are off you might as well swap the belt and pulleys.

But there is one other consideration, if your engine is exhibiting any evidence of an oil leak from the front pulley and oil seal this wlll contaminate the belt and considerably shorten its life. These engines are not known for oil leaks but worth checking.

Ford Focus MK2 - Timing belt - to change or not change? - John F

The 1.6 Zetec sturdy cambelt drives nothing but cams and a tensioner pulley and was designed to last the life of the engine. Ford advise 10yrs/100,000m change interval as a precautionary. I recently posted a pic of our 18yr old 130,000m Focus cambelt - it looks as good as new. I have no intention of changing it, merely keeping an ear open for suspicious noises from the tensioner pulley. The poly V ancillary belt is original too - and its ribbing looks perfect. I used to give them a squirt of belt dressing every 20,000m or so, but no longer do so. As mentioned, failure is virtually unheard of. But there are many stories of disasters following cack-handed replacements of perfectly good belts that would have been best left alone. Modern belts are so strong that those not much thicker than a Zetec cambelt are exposed to the elements and used to drive powerful motorcycles!

I used to get much abuse for expressing these opinions, but even the diehards (and those with a vested interest in creating garage work) who recommend absurdly early precautionary changes are beginning to see the light....

Ford Focus MK2 - Timing belt - to change or not change? - SLO76
While I agree that this particular engine is of a very good design and doesn’t tend to snap belts but after twenty years in the trade I’ve seen plenty of cases of catastrophic belt failure that has effectively destroyed the engine and more often than not written the car off. In the 80’s and 90’s you could take the risk as most older 8v engines were non-interference which meant there was usually no damage done in a failure but today’s much more complex motors are almost all interference designs which means a costly disaster of the belt fails.

It’s not worth the risk unless the car in question is of next to no value and you don’t go far. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that timing belts don’t fail, they do and often, just some designs are more prone to it than others and as for believing that you can check it properly in place well I removed one from an Astra I sold a few years back after a VVT pulley failed and although it looked ok initially when you flexed it you could see all the cracks and wear. I replaced both pulleys, the belt, tensioner and water pump to be certain and the (rather fussy and paranoid) owner is very happy to date.
Ford Focus MK2 - Timing belt - to change or not change? - RobJP

I used to get much abuse for expressing these opinions, but even the diehards (and those with a vested interest in creating garage work) who recommend absurdly early precautionary changes are beginning to see the light....

Alternatively, maybe we all are just so used to you spouting your nonsense that we just blank it out now.

If you've got some proof that we are coming around to your viewpoint (as in posts by other regulars supporting you, rather than laughing at you), then links to said posts would be most welcome, and I'll happily post a fulsome apology.

Ford Focus MK2 - Timing belt - to change or not change? - madf

Clint Eastwood summed up your dilemma "Are you feeling lucky today?"

He should have added "and tomorrow ,and next year".

Cost of doing work? Say £300

Cost of not doing work with engine rebuild £1,000s.

Simple choice.

PS When John F tells what he does, he conveniently omits to tell you his annual mileage and usage but applies his circumstances to your case. That is the kind of advice you can safely ignore as it is TOTALLY irrelevant to you.

Ford Focus MK2 - Timing belt - to change or not change? - John F

PS When John F tells what he does, he conveniently omits to tell you his annual mileage and usage but applies his circumstances to your case. That is the kind of advice you can safely ignore as it is TOTALLY irrelevant to you.

Rather irrevelant I would have thought, but if you want to know, we do about 8,000m per annum nowadays in the 'dogsbody' Focus - general local use plus occasional foray to an airport - where it happens to be at the moment. Compared to the belt in our old Passat (which was still going strong at >240,000m) it is a mere stripling.

It's not a case of 'feeling lucky', more of doing homework to buy the best bit of kit available and having the knowledge to make an educated decision whether or not to change what is still a perfectly serviceable component, with the added risk of a poor job being done. Also, being sensitive to odd noises and smells, I think I will be able to detect a failing tension pulley before significant damage occurs - as I did with our old Passat (it started whining at around 140,000m). On the Zetec engine, if you want to change anything for peace of mind, I would just change the pulley. The belt and cog teeth will be nicely used to each other by now. However, if it does go bang we will still have had our moneysworth and I shall be happy to report the misfortune so you can have a laugh at my expense!

Ford Focus MK2 - Timing belt - to change or not change? - SLO76
“if it does go bang we will still have had our moneysworth and I shall be happy to report the misfortune so you can have a laugh at my expense!”

There’s my point, Johns Focus is a Mk I and worth barely more than it would cost to replace the belt so I agree that it’s not worth doing. However a good Mk II is well worth preserving with a change just in case and while I agree that you should pop the bonnet and listen regularly to your engine for any unusual noises, particularly pulley/tensioner wear I disagree and know from experience that you can’t really check the timing belt while it’s on the car. Remove one and flex it, take a look and you’ll often be amazed that it was still in one piece. That said I have also pulled belts off of cars that have been perfect. Point is you can’t be 100% sure and a £300 bill to give 5-8yrs of security here is well worth paying.
Ford Focus MK2 - Timing belt - to change or not change? - RobJP

John, you completely failed (as usual) to respond and supply some (hell, any, never mind 'some') proof that regular posters are coming around to your way of thinking.

In fact, the posts which followed, prove my point far more than yours - regular people on here, refuting your viewpoint, as usual.

I continue to wait, apology ready to be typed ...

I suspect I'll never need to type it, maybe you'd like to review and retract your claim ?

I suspect I'll be waiting even longer for that to happen, however.

Ford Focus MK2 - Timing belt - to change or not change? - John F

John, you completely failed (as usual) to respond and supply some (hell, any, never mind 'some') proof that regular posters are coming around to your way of thinking.

I usually try to respond (if it's worth a response and not just an insult).....and the post above yours from SLO76 seems to understand my reasoning. I cannot provide 'proof' but I have seen from time to time support from non-regulars......and even occasionally from gordonbennet. I might seem unreasonable in not conforming to the 'concensus', but the famous GBS quote springs to mind.....'all progress depends on the unreasonable man'.

So my answer to the OP's question is still a resounding 'no'. A Zetec 1.6 cambelt assembly of only 8yrs and 70,000m is highly unlikely to fail before Ford's precautionary 10yr/100,000m advice, and probably for many years and miles after that.

Edited by John F on 07/09/2018 at 02:56

Ford Focus MK2 - Timing belt - to change or not change? - RobJP

So that's a 'No, I've not got anything to support my assertion' then.

To remind you, your assertion was that "I used to get much abuse for expressing these opinions, but even the diehards (and those with a vested interest in creating garage work) who recommend absurdly early precautionary changes are beginning to see the light...."

I see absolutely no evidence that SLO's comment supports your viewpoint (he quite clearly says "It’s not worth the risk unless the car in question is of next to no value and you don’t go far. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that timing belts don’t fail, they do and often"

Evidence or retraction still awaited ...

Ford Focus MK2 - Timing belt - to change or not change? - John F

Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that timing belts don’t fail, they do and often"

Shouting doesn't add weight to your opinion. To assert that modern timing belts fail 'often' is both absurd and delusional. You should know that some cars these days have no advisory to replace the cambelt which, unless something impedes it, will last the life of the car.

Here is a seven year old thread for your amusement....

community.cartalk.com/t/oldeshighest-milet-or-age-...3

Ford Focus MK2 - Timing belt - to change or not change? - RobJP

Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that timing belts don’t fail, they do and often"

Shouting doesn't add weight to your opinion. To assert that modern timing belts fail 'often' is both absurd and delusional. You should know that some cars these days have no advisory to replace the cambelt which, unless something impedes it, will last the life of the car.

Here is a seven year old thread for your amusement....

community.cartalk.com/t/oldeshighest-milet-or-age-...3

It wasn't shouting, it was quoting SLO's post.

You know, SLO76, the highly knowledgable, experienced motor trader, who's livelihood depends on knowing what he's talking about.

The person who has dealt with hundreds, if not thousands of cars over the last few decades, or ... you.

If it comes down to taking the worth of someone's opinion, I know which of the two of you I'd go to for advice.

Oh, and evidence as you originally claimed, of regular posters on here coming around to your way of thinking, or a retraction of said nonsense claim, still awaited.

My apology is waiting to be typed if such evidence is forthcoming.

Maybe I should put that bit in capitals (you know, as if shouting), because you seem unable to see it ?

Edited by RobJP on 08/09/2018 at 18:28

Ford Focus MK2 - Timing belt - to change or not change? - Andrew-T

Cost of doing work? Say £300; Cost of not doing work with engine rebuild £1,000s.

Simple choice.

Unfortunately it's not simple. There is a timeline starting with a new car, and ending with a failed engine. Somewhere in the middle is a balance point where it becomes sensible to spend £300 to avoid spending much more. Unfortunately it is impossible to identify this point accurately, and given the relative durability of modern belts and the depreciation curve of modern cars, many owners will choose to save both costs and offload their car to someone else.

I suppose in the end it does come down to Clint Eastwood after all. If the car has led a quiet life you will probably be lucky.

Ford Focus MK2 - Timing belt - to change or not change? - skidpan

Johns Focus is a Mk I and worth barely more than it would cost to replace the belt so I agree that it’s not worth doing

Disagree there. Whilst it might be worth little more than a cam belt change replacing the car will cost more than a cam belt change. If the car is in good shape with no or few MOT advisories, a good servicing history and good tyres its worth spend a few pounds to ensure that one of the failures that is certain to make the car an uneconomic repair (unless you can DIY an engine swap) is avoided.

The replacement car could well be a money pit and it could also require a cam belt change when you buy it.

So IMHO it you are happy with the car, its perfectly reliable and you have no intension of changing in the near future get the work done. Its cheaper and at least you know the car.

As they used to say, "better the devil you know".

Ford Focus MK2 - Timing belt - to change or not change? - SLO76
Good point Skidpan but most Mk I’s are so badly Rotten underneath these days that they’re on borrowed time. Though it’s a car I loved and hope some make it past this banger level into classic status. It was a real turnaround for Ford.
Ford Focus MK2 - Timing belt - to change or not change? - skidpan

If the car is in good shape with no or few MOT advisories, a good servicing history and good tyres

Should point out that I was not referring specifically to JohF's car with that comment. Since his car is never serviced and runs on tyres fitted many many years ago his Focus is clearly not worth investing in.

Ford Focus MK2 - Timing belt - to change or not change? - andyp

I doubt that there is anyone on here who has even the smallest amount of mechanical knowledge of cars who would take on board anything John F says about vehicle maintenance.

Ford Focus MK2 - Timing belt - to change or not change? - John F

Should point out that I was not referring specifically to JohF's car with that comment. Since his car is never serviced and runs on tyres fitted many many years ago his Focus is clearly not worth investing in.

I presume this is a joke (although sarcasm is never particularly witty). Actually the underside has been serviced reasonably regularly so is not too rusty.

Ford Focus MK2 - Timing belt - to change or not change? - JONATHAN_11_80

Change it i had the belt done on my old focus at 70k well worth the money for piece of mind. The car is still going now with its 3rd owner with 150k on it. Anyone who says dont change it is daft in my opinion. My mate had his belt snap on his laguna at 67k it bent all 16 valves. Its not worth the risk Fords 100k interval is there for a reason dont ignore it. Luckily my current focus has a chain.

Ford Focus MK2 - Timing belt - to change or not change? - Galaxy

From what I've heard the cambelt on the Ford Zetec engine very rarely fails. However, the "Wheels", which are made of plastic, and the Tensioner are a completely different matter! They are what fails on this engine rather than the belt. Of course, if changing the Wheels and Tensioner it would not make any sense not to change the belt as well.

The Zetec engine in my Ford Mondeo did 115K miles on it's second cambelt kit before the car was scrapped for other reasons (clutch went).

Ford Focus MK2 - Timing belt - to change or not change? - John F

My mate had his belt snap on his laguna at 67k it bent all 16 valves. Its not worth the risk

It certainly isn't - on a laguna - which I wouldn't have touched with a bargepole. French belts were made of cheese rind in those days. Horses for courses. Just got back to my son's flat in his 17yr old 2.8 Passat auto estate(USA), 153,000m - same excellent well engineered powertrain as my old Audi A6 (bought many years ago on my advice). Cambelt original.

Ford Focus MK2 - Timing belt - to change or not change? - SLO76
“Just got back to my son's flat in his 17yr old 2.8 Passat auto estate(USA), 153,000m - same excellent well engineered powertrain as my old Audi A6 (bought many years ago on my advice). Cambelt original.”

Did he buy it new? Americans tend towards caution with maintenance more so than ourselves so I’d suspect the belt was changed before he bought it, it’s often not listed on the service book and sadly few keep receipts with the car.
Ford Focus MK2 - Timing belt - to change or not change? - RobJP
“Just got back to my son's flat in his 17yr old 2.8 Passat auto estate(USA), 153,000m - same excellent well engineered powertrain as my old Audi A6 (bought many years ago on my advice). Cambelt original.”
Did he buy it new? Americans tend towards caution with maintenance more so than ourselves so I’d suspect the belt was changed before he bought it, it’s often not listed on the service book and sadly few keep receipts with the car.

Hang on.

John F, in the USA, where most people do oil changes every 6k miles or so ?

I bet that must be messing with his head, all those people wasting all that money.

I've got a vision of him standing on the street outside a lube shop with a placard ...

Ford Focus MK2 - Timing belt - to change or not change? - gordonbennet

Interesting thread.

The decision whether to change a cambelt or not varies such a lot between cars and owners.

If the car has been designed to be worked on, rather than just ease of manaufacture and simple basic servicing, then, especially if you can do the work yourself, the investment of up to £100 and an hour's work is a no brainer, hence why i changed the Landcruiser belt days after i bought the vehicle, @ £80 kit and 1 hours work i would have been an idiot not to do so...no mention of belt change in the service book though that as hardly surprising, but the belt that came off didn't have what i would have expected as OE markings so was probably changed at some point in the past, despite this it was still worth doing in my particular circumstances.

If the belt change is complicated, requiring several hours of garage labour (possibly 6 or more for some of the lazier designs fitted to some car) and really expensive parts, then there are more considerations, and the prudent owner is more likely to remove the outer cover and inspect the whole belt preferably where it flexes backwards over a tensioner thereby stretch the the teeth making examination more effective.

Then you have other owners who have no idea what they would be looking for anyway, and if they've bought a car that was designed with little or now thought to more in depth miantenance then another quandry is added.

One size does not fit all here.

I have a certain admiration for how JohnF keeps his fleet together, i doubt many garage owners have bought retirement second homes in the Algarve on his regular contributions, but he knows what he's looking for and knows the history of his vehicles, plus he gets his hands dirty keeping an eye on such things anway, plus that listening for odd noises is an important part of maintaining our vehicles, they often give noise or running clues when things arn'y quite right.

I wouldn't necessarily maintain my vehicles like John thought, i'm formly in the camp opf twice yearly or at worse case annual engine oil changes, i also change coolants when i think they need doing, ditto with transmission oils and other fluids, and i change brake friction materials when i, and i do have a thing about brakes, consider them less than perfect, so we have huge differences in out approach.

John's service regime is the cheapest out there, mine would be seriously expensive if i relied on garages or didn't buy fluids and filters in bulk packs as and when i see them on offer, so i wouldn't necessarily say John's is a good regime for others nor would mine be good for others unless they could do at least the donkey work for themselves.

I prefer my method, John prerfers his, and we can tease each other about our differences without falling out...one thing we do agree on is to research extensively before buying a car in the first place, so you don't get a nasty shock when you discover it needs 4 figure sums to replace a cambelt ( a service item no less) or a similar bill for an ill designed EGR valve stuffed somewhere so stupid that it requires 5 hours labour to replace.

Ford Focus MK2 - Timing belt - to change or not change? - John F

I must admit I cannot prove my son's cambelt is original, but he bought the car well before the 80,000 advisory and there was no mention in the service history of an early unnecessary replacement. It is an expensive job best left to experts - I believe the front of the car has to be removed, just like on my old 2.8 Audi A6. Thankfully it is a robust design - only one set of cams being driven by a long sturdy belt, the others by short chains which as far as I am aware virtually never fail.

American servicing ranges between absurd 6,000m intervals and utter neglect - the latter probably explains the preponderance of ancient Asian cars to be seen reliably plodding along the freeways.....

 

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