Timing belts should be inspected at the 60,000 mile (96,000 km) mark. If the timing belt shows signs of wear or defects, the belt should be replaced at that time. If the timing belt is not replaced with a new one at 60,000 miles (96,000 km), the belt MUST be replaced at the 90,000 mile (144,000 km) mark.
Inspection of the timing belt is vitally important to prevent expensive repairs or extensive engine damage because of interference in the valvetrain. Often engine manufacturers design engines to such close tolerances that the relationship between the valves and the pistons is extremely precise. If the timing belt is slightly off or breaks, the valves and pistons could actually strike each other. Engines designed like this are known as interference motors. The damage created when the valves and pistons hit at high, or even very low, engine speeds can be quite extensive. Often a valve head can be thrust right through the crown of the piston. Ford Motor Corporation does not indicate that the 2.3L engine is an interference engine (therefore, if the belt breaks the valves and pistons allegedly will not come in contact), however it is still very important to inspect and replace, if necessary, the timing belt.
Inspect both sides of the timing belt. For inspection the front timing belt cover will need removal; refer to for this procedure. Replace the belt with a new one if any of the following conditions exist:
If none of these conditions exist, the belt does not need replacement (until it reaches 90,000 miles/144,000 km). The belt MUST be replaced at this interval.