Well you can take the timing cover off and try turning the cam gear
very slowly, if you get one full revolution I'd say its a
non-interference engine. You already have to set up the timing gear to
#1TDC since the belt snapped so no loss moving the cam gear at this
This reminds me of a question: Why the hell would anyone design an
interference engine? A timing belt is consumable. It's guaranteed to
break. What engineering advantage is there to making an engine that
self-destructs when a particular consumable part fails?
The original 1.6L in the Escort, waaay back in 82-84, was an interference
was reworked in 1985 into the 1.9 and has been freewheeling since then. Part of
redesign was to eliminate valve damage in case of a timing belt failure. Always
replace the water pump and tensioner pulleys when replacing the timing belt on
Ford did make some 1.6 freewheeling engines in the 80's. I think they
started in 83'. I had an 85' Escort with one. The 1.6 engines from 81-82
were definately interference designs. When the public found out what
could happen to early Escort/Lynx engines if the timing belt broke, Ford
had a better idea.
Really? I never knew that, surely never saw one. Maybe 1.6 Turbo? I thought
the standard 1.6s would crash, although you could get lucky now and then. Didn't
1.9 come out in 85?
For a few years I had a fun side business rehabbing those old Escorts from
The used car lots would sell them for pennies with bent valves or cracked heads.
made a nice buck fixing and reselling those little beasties, always had a nice
car too. ;) I probably turned around 50 of them. With proper maintenance they
tough little car, I sort of miss them. I even had a diesel for a while.
Speaking of non interference motors; the 2.0 in the Contour\Mystaque is
be freewheeling, right. I've seen a lot of them with bent valves when the idler
siezes and the cam timing retards. When the belt just snaps from old age, the
are usually ok. Go figure.
I remember researching this subject before I bought my 85' Escort. I
wanted to be sure it didn't have an interference fit engine. I was
familiar with this problem because my mother had an 81' Lynx. That was
the first model year for the Escort/Lynx. There was talk at the time in
the car industry and also in some publications for the general public
about what could happen to the 1.6 engines if the timing belt broke. I
encouraged my mother to trade her 81' Lynx for an 85' Escort like mine.
A year or two later, strange as it seems, I was actually driving her 85'
when the timing belt broke with only about 35K on the engine. The car
was towed home and I changed the belt. There was no damage to the
engine. I was driving at highway speed when it happened, so the engine
must have had enough inertia to turn over a few times before it stopped.
I also knew someone with an 82' Escort. That car and the 81' Lynx both
had blue valve covers. I just did a some Googling and found a website
(see below) that identifies the early 1.6 (81-82) with the blue valve
cover as the interference type. The 85's had black covers. However, I
also found some other sites which list *all* the 1.6 engines as
interference designs. Some of those sites even list the 2.0 as an
interference engine. Could they all be wrong? Many of those sites use
the same graphics chart, so it could be a repetition of error.
I don't recall what source I used for researching my 85' before
purchasing it. That was long before the Internet but I'm quite sure I
must have found out it was not an interference engine or I wouldn't have
bought the car or told my mother to do the same. Having seen and worked
on quite a few Escorts of that era, I do know that the head design was
changed near the mid' 80's. They may also have changed to a thicker head
gasket to eliminate the interference. I think the turbo 1.6 engine
retained the interference design longer than the base 1.6 because Ford
wanted the extra performance from the former. I'll look into this
subject some more.
Here's the link to the 'blue valve cover' reference. It can be found
under the picture with the text: "These cars that almost always bend
valves when the belt breaks".
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