Jim Grant's Tech Tips
'96 Mazda Protégé, Timing Belt, a Deal
Q: I have a friend who is looking to sell his 96 Mazda Protege to me for $600. It died while he was pulling into the parking ramp at work. Upon inspection, (looking at the rocker arms with the oil filler cap off) it looks like the timing belt went at 96k. The engine is a 1.5 liter dual overhead cam engine. The question is, how likely is it that the valves are bent with this type of engine and this happening while rolling into a parking ramp? The car sells for $5,000, so it is a good deal, if it is only the timing belt (belt, tensor and pulley cost around $125). Also, a website said that only the intake valves work off the belt and a timing chain runs the exhaust. Does this improve my chances and would the chain need to be replaced?
- Gary Z.
A: You just may have yourself a good deal. It is unlikely that the valves in that Mazda engine were damaged, but as many of us have learned in the automotive field, there are no absolutes. The Gates Timing Belt guide shows that 1.5 liter engine is not an interference type. With 96k on the engine, the timing chain should not be an issue, but it is easy enough to inspect and service if needed. I would suggest replacing the water pump, and the front oil seals while you are replacing the timing belt. Why? If any of those items start to fail/leak, you have to remove the timing belt to service them.