I have a 1998 Ford Contour SE. A while back I had a timing belt
replaced and it SEEMS to me that ever since it does not run properly.
Sometimes it idles kind of rough. Also, when I go to take off from a
stop it sometimes hesitates like it really doesn't want to. Around 45
or so when it gets ready to shift it tends to resist and almost feels
like the car is "bucking and jumping" but not THAT hard. It is
definitely not running correctly and I think it has been like this
since the timing belt was replaced. I have taken it back to the
mechanic who worked on it time and again and it runs fine while it is
there and runs like crap any other time. I have gotten fed up by this
routine and taken it to Ford where I bought it and they said that they
ran every test that they can and if anything was wrong it would have
come up on thier tests. They claim nothing is wrong with the car.
Can anyone help me out? Do you think this is timing belt related?
Oh yes, another symptom is that since we replaced the timing belt we
have had to replace the same spark plug 2 or 3 times as it keeps
getting cracked. We replace the plug and it runs better, not like it
should but better for a little while then runs like crap again only to
find out that it has cracked another spark plug. Any ideas would be
much appreciated. On days that it rains, it runs worse. Thanks in
ps. I am no mechanic and do not intend to sound like I know SQUAT
about mechanic work. I just would like to do what I can to assist my
mechanic in solving my problem. They really are good mechanics.
Things like this happen to my Wife's cars. After we sell them the new
owners never complain about the problems, and usually think they are great
running and trouble free. Moral of the story, when SWMBO says there is
something wrong, she is not going to change her mind.
I still owe too much on the car to trade it or sell it. I do not know
what SWMBO is. Ultimately, I would like to get this problem fixed so
that she can run like she used to. The car really did run very nicely
until this problem. Any insight into what is probably going on and
what to do to diagnose for sure and fix would be very much
Thanks once again!!
[This followup was posted to alt.autos.ford and a copy was sent to the
First, check out the forums on www.contour.org. Very knowledgeable
Did you replace the belt as preventative maintenance, or did it break?
Since you mention a timing belt, you must have the 4-cylinder Zetec? All
I can think of is the camshaft/crankshaft are not properly timed together.
That is what the timing belt does, and it could be off a notch or two. If
the timing is off, that screws up everything.
Other more remote could be a damaged valve. I'm not certain if the Zetec
is an interference engine (meaning a valve and piston could hit each
other), but if so, a valve could have gotten bent.
Another possibility is a damaged fuel injector or it's wiring on that
one cylinder that damages the spark plug.
The last very remote possibility I can think of is a damaged crankshaft
position sensor (or wiring), which is what tells the computer where Top
Dead Center of cylinder 1 is. If it's giving a bad signal, that can screw
up the spark timing.
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