I've jst bought a non-running '97 Mercury Mystique with a 2.0 engine and manual transmission. The previous owner said that the timing belt broke. How would you approach repairs? First, would you confirm that the timing belt is broken and replace it or try to turn the engine by hand? Or, should I pull the cylinder to look at the damage? I don't know anything about the history of the car. So, where should I start?
Take off the timing belt covers and crank it over. See if the thing is broken or not. If it's not broken, put the top cylinder on the crank and put the cam line up to see if it's still in time or not. If it is broken, you really don't have to worry about valve damage because the 2.0 L that they use on that Mercury is a non-interference engine. So if the timing belt breaks, it doesn't make the pistons hit the valves that are open when the cam stops moving when the belt breaks. So you don't have to worry about that on that particular vehicle. That is not something your car's age is going to worry about because it's a non-interference engine. It's not something you have to think about.
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