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Dodge Repair/2.0L timing belt broke:interference damage?


My 2004 Neon (130000 miles) stalled/died as I exited the highway and stopped at a light. Would not restart - towed to mechanic who confirmed timing belt broke. He suggests there is probably engine damage because it has an interference engine, and thinks I should not waste my money to replace timing belt, water pump, etc. Is there a way to check valves & pistons without replacing everything first?

Hi Mary,
I have not had personal experience with an interference engine belt breaking. My thought would be to compare the position of the crankshaft timing mark with the timing mark of the camshaft to determine whether they still might be aligned properly. I might conjecture that if the rpm was very low when the belt broke that it might not have interfered, but I may be wrong about that, and the fact may be that any break of the belt no matter how slowly it is rotating at the moment of the break will instantaneously cause some sort of interference. Also, trying to restart it after the belt broke would almost automatically cause an interference event.
So I guess that I have to agree with the mechanic.
It might be worth opening up the engine (removing the cylinder head to see how much damage occurred so as to consider how much it would cost to repair what it damaged as compared to replacing the engine or disposing of the vehicle. If there is no damage to the pistons, then replacing bent valves might be the only major cost in parts.
Let me know what you learn/do.
ps: understandable...but if the engine was at idle when it broke, and then if when you tried to start it the engine would not crank over, it might be the case that it is indeed 'interfered' but possibly not vastly damaged. It would take a moment for the mechanic to compare the postion of the crankshaft and its timing mark, to that of the cam shaft and its timimg make to get an idea of whether or not they are far out of synch. Just on the chance that it locked up but without doing a lot of damage. I agree that removing the cylinder head is a many-step process.  

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Roland Finston


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