97 Cougar Problem

We have a 97 Cougar with the 4.6v8, I have a question, this engine will crank over, but it backfires through the throttle body, even more when starting fluid is added. Could this car have jumped timing? A Friend said
it had a blown head gasket.....Could this be true?
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That could be true... sometimes a Head gasket can fail between cylinders, and the only indication is as you see.
Suspect valve or spark timing first, though
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I figured maybe it had jumped timing, because it still will fire but it seems like its at the wrong time...If it is the timing chain/gear worn out, will that hurt the engine? Can it be fixed without internal damage?
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Could be or maybe not.. there's a thing called a 'leak-down test' that would determine if valves are bent. Or headgasket fail between cylinders.

Probably
Note: You arent going to get comprehensive help on the entire problem and solution/repair, here. There simply isnt time or energy. The answer is to get a book, or the shop CD off ebay... and figure things out for yourself.
Further info may be on
http://www.lincolnsonline.com /
Or
http://www.crownvic.net/ubbthreads/index.php
Because it's the same engine
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yeah I know I cant get ALL the help here I need I just wondered if it could have possibly hurt the valves or not because I was told this wasnt a "free-turning" engine.
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