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Introduction

This guide is most accurate for the 2002-2004 Ford Focus SVT Zetec interference motor with VCT, however it can be adapted for use with all 1998-2004 Zetec motors. This must be changed preemptively to avoid engine damage on interference motors, and forums recommend replacement at 90,000 miles. Careful care must be taken to follow proper procedure, failure could result in serious engine damage. This is a very involved repair, and if you are not familiar with car repair seriously consider having this professionally installed. Always wear safety glasses, ensure the battery is disconnected, and the vehicle is properly supported while working. Attached is the PDF guide I followed to complete this repair.

  1. SAFETY FIRST! Always disconnect the negative battery terminal before beginning to work A 10mm wrench makes quick work of the battery connector
    • SAFETY FIRST!

    • Always disconnect the negative battery terminal before beginning to work

    • A 10mm wrench makes quick work of the battery connector

    very well written guide except if you are a competent mechanic half of the work is required.

    i have been an engine builder/machinist in the motorsport industry for 20 years and only used this guide to see what was involved before doing belt replacement on my mother’s car.

    i did not remove spark plugs, rocker cover, sprockets and did not put engine on tdc.

    i just marked a tooth on sprocket to tooth on belt with paint pen at crank and both cam sprockets

    remove belt and tensioner/idler, count teeth in between all three paint marks on belt then replicate on new belt.

    reassemble with new tensioner and idler making sure paint marks on new belt are lined up with paint on all three sprockets.

    follow the guide to tension belt if you are unsure how and hey presto everything is still in same position as before with no special tools and way less dismantling.

    i have done this many time on many different types of engines.

    like the guide says, you should replace all pulleys and water pump while apart

    Wayno - Réponse

    Hello Wayno,

    Just letting you know if you choose this approach with the SVT Focus, which features an oil driven variable cam timing gear on the intake camshaft, if you do not follow the procedure to correctly depressurize this system with the camshafts locked the residual oil pressure may change the angle of the camshaft relative to your cam gear, rendering your paint mark inaccurate. Unfortunately, many people (including myself) have run into issues with their foci by trying to skip this step. If your mother drives a standard Zetec focus with a fixed cam gear this is not an issue so I am sure everything went smoothly.

    William Chabot -

    Hi William,

    Once again well done on a excellent write up. I appreciate your comments but would like to inform you that my mothers car is a 2004 ST170 and has a VCT engine. I have performed this procedure countless times on many engines from Ford Coyotes, Audi, Lotus and more. Bottom line is if the distance (links on chain or teeth on belt) between sprocket teeth remains the same the timing will not change from its original position once the engine is running with oil pressure, otherwise if the engine turned backwards or sat for years and bled pressure from the VCT then that would also cause the issues you are referring to. It has now been several months with no issue. i recently drove the ST170 (and gave it a hard time) for a week while upgrading cams on my 5.4L quad cam modular and it still goes like when I purchased it new for my mum. i understand people have problems but i am a professional engine builder and machinist and never had an issue when doing these types of jobs outside of work.

    Wayno - Réponse

    Your article is very good and i probably should not have made the original comment. I didn’t want to take anything away from your article it is well written, has likely helped many people and would have taken a long time to create.

    While working on engines I automatically take notice of everything without thinking about it and would have noticed anything that non professionals may miss.

    Again thank you for the concerns and if you would like to remove or are capable or removing my original post then that won’t bother me the slightest.

    Stay safe, happy motoring and no substitute for power ?

    Wayno - Réponse

  2. Jack up the car When looking for safe jack points, refer to the owner's manual
    • Jack up the car

    • When looking for safe jack points, refer to the owner's manual

    • Always use jack stands to support the vehicle!

    • Remove the four lug nuts holding on the tire. They are a 19mm

  3. There are 2 snaps and one screw holding on the splash shield The top two are a Phillips #2 located directly behind the tire The one attached to the bumper is a Torx
    • There are 2 snaps and one screw holding on the splash shield

    • The top two are a Phillips #2 located directly behind the tire

    • The one attached to the bumper is a Torx

    • Pull back the splash guard for better visibility

  4. There is a cover protecting the Accessory Belt There are two 10mm bolts holding this splash guard on, one in the front and one in the back There are two 10mm bolts holding this splash guard on, one in the front and one in the back
    • There is a cover protecting the Accessory Belt

    • There are two 10mm bolts holding this splash guard on, one in the front and one in the back

  5. Relocate the coolant overflow and power steering resevoirs There is one 10mm bolt holding the coolant overflow reservoir to the frame There is a snap tab located behind the coolant overflow reservoir holding it in place
    • Relocate the coolant overflow and power steering resevoirs

    • There is one 10mm bolt holding the coolant overflow reservoir to the frame

    • There is a snap tab located behind the coolant overflow reservoir holding it in place

    • The power steering reservoir will just lift out

    • Both can be pulled gently to the side

  6. There are four 8mm bolts holding down the spark plug cover Gently lift it out of the way
    • There are four 8mm bolts holding down the spark plug cover

    • Gently lift it out of the way

  7. The connector for the VCT Solenoid will need to be unplugged There is a small metal tab holding the connector on
    • The connector for the VCT Solenoid will need to be unplugged

    • There is a small metal tab holding the connector on

    • Use a screwdriver to pry upward on the metal tab or squeeze the metal tab and pull upward to remove it.

    • Be careful not to lose it!

    • The connector will just pull off

    • Pull the wire back out of the way

    No need to remove that wire tab, if you press it in it will release the connector

    Nathan McCarthy - Réponse

  8. There are four 8mm bolts holding on the upper timing belt cover This exposes the timing blet This belt is cracking, indicating it needs to be replaced
    • There are four 8mm bolts holding on the upper timing belt cover

    • This exposes the timing blet

    • This belt is cracking, indicating it needs to be replaced

  9. Gently twist and pull straight up to remove the spark plug connectors Do not unplug the other side! Pull them gently back out of the way
    • Gently twist and pull straight up to remove the spark plug connectors

    • Do not unplug the other side!

    • Pull them gently back out of the way

  10. Using a 15mm wrench, rotate the tensioner assembly clockwise releasing tension on the belt A long wrench may make this easier Slip the belt gently off the pulleys and out of the engine bay
    • Using a 15mm wrench, rotate the tensioner assembly clockwise releasing tension on the belt

    • A long wrench may make this easier

    • Slip the belt gently off the pulleys and out of the engine bay

    • On reassembly, check your owner's manual for accessory belt routing

  11. There are three 13mm bolts holding the water pump pulley to the water pump You can use a strap wrench to prevent the pulley from rotating You can also use a flat head screwdriver to prevent rotation
    • There are three 13mm bolts holding the water pump pulley to the water pump

    • You can use a strap wrench to prevent the pulley from rotating

    • You can also use a flat head screwdriver to prevent rotation

    • During reassembly, snug the bolts to hand tight, install the accessory belt, then torque down the bolts

    • Gently remove the pulley

    • While it is not necessary to remove the water pump, it is a great time to change it!

  12. There is one 13mm bolt holding the idler pulley in place A little finagling may be required to get the pulley out Don't lose the spacer washer on the pulley!
    • There is one 13mm bolt holding the idler pulley in place

    • A little finagling may be required to get the pulley out

    • Don't lose the spacer washer on the pulley!

  13. There are ten 8mm bolts holding the valve cover down These bolts must be removed from outside to inside, working diagonally
    • There are ten 8mm bolts holding the valve cover down

    • These bolts must be removed from outside to inside, working diagonally

    • On reassembly these bolts must be torqued in two stages, working from inside to outside

    • On the first stage, tighten to 2 Nm

    • On the second stage, tighten to 7 Nm

    • Disconnect the vacuum hose going to the intake

    • It is recommended that you change the valve cover gasket before reassembly

  14. Remove the four spark plugs using a 5/8" spark plug socket
    • Remove the four spark plugs using a 5/8" spark plug socket

  15. Using a block of scrap wood between a hydraulic jack and the oil pan, use the jack to support the engine Do not lift the engine! Merely allow it to rest on the jack. Mark the position of the motor mount relative to the car frame with a sharpie
    • Using a block of scrap wood between a hydraulic jack and the oil pan, use the jack to support the engine

    • Do not lift the engine! Merely allow it to rest on the jack.

    • Mark the position of the motor mount relative to the car frame with a sharpie

    • There are three 15mm bolts holding the motor mount to the car frame.

    • During reassembly these bolts must be torqued to 48 Nm

    • There are two 18mm nuts holding the motor mount to the engine

    • It is normal for the stud to come out with these nuts

    • During reassembly these bolts must be torqued to 80 Nm

  16. There are three 15mm bolts and one T50 bolt holding the middle timing belt cover in place During reassembly these bolts must be torqued to 50 Nm
    • There are three 15mm bolts and one T50 bolt holding the middle timing belt cover in place

    • During reassembly these bolts must be torqued to 50 Nm

  17. There is one 18mm bolt holding the harmonic balancer pulley in place Care must be taken to not allow the engine to rotate counterclockwise during its removal
    • There is one 18mm bolt holding the harmonic balancer pulley in place

    • Care must be taken to not allow the engine to rotate counterclockwise during its removal

    • During reassembly the bolt must be torqued to 115 Nm

    • After the bolt is removed, the pulley should slide off

    • The pulley is keyed, and must be in the correct orientation during reassembly

  18. There are two 10mm bolts holding the lower timing belt cover in place The removal of this cover fully exposes the remainder of the timing belt
    • There are two 10mm bolts holding the lower timing belt cover in place

    • The removal of this cover fully exposes the remainder of the timing belt

  19. The following steps illustrate how to align the engine to Top Dead Center (TDC) It is crucial that extra care is taken to ensure the engine is at TDC before reassembly Never rotate the engine counterclockwise.  Only rotate the engine in the direction of rotation, clockwise
    • The following steps illustrate how to align the engine to Top Dead Center (TDC)

    • It is crucial that extra care is taken to ensure the engine is at TDC before reassembly

    • Never rotate the engine counterclockwise. Only rotate the engine in the direction of rotation, clockwise

    • You will need the proper bar and pin tool to check the timing.

    • Never use the bar and pin to hold the crank or camshafts. Doing so could result in permanent engine damage

    • With the timing belt removed never rotate the crankshaft or camshafts independently of one another. Doing so could result in permanent engine damage

  20. After putting the harmonic balancer pulley back on (you do not have to torque it down), use the 18mm bolt and a wrench to turn the engine clockwise.  The engine should move with relative ease, if it does not move ensure that the car is in neutral.  Do not use excess force! You may want to rest a wooden dowel in the spark plug hole of piston #1 to observe its movement You will reach TDC when piston #1 is at its highest point and the exhaust valve is just about to open
    • After putting the harmonic balancer pulley back on (you do not have to torque it down), use the 18mm bolt and a wrench to turn the engine clockwise. The engine should move with relative ease, if it does not move ensure that the car is in neutral. Do not use excess force!

    • You may want to rest a wooden dowel in the spark plug hole of piston #1 to observe its movement

    • You will reach TDC when piston #1 is at its highest point and the exhaust valve is just about to open

    • This will occur once every two complete revolutions of the motor

    • When you are at TDC, the timing bar should slide into the slot in both camshafts

    • Since this is a 4 stroke engine, there are two times when piston #1 will be at its highest point. To be at TDC, we must use the intake stroke

    • During the compression stroke, the intake valve will have just closed. This is not TDC. The timing bar will not fit

    • If you overshoot TDC do not rotate the engine counterclockwise. Turn the engine two complete revolutions clockwise

  21. Underneath the exhaust manifold there is a 13mm plug where the crankshaft stopper must be inserted.   Use a wrench to remove the stud Using the longer stopper, fully insert and screw it in until snug. This will prevent the crankshaft from moving clockwise past TDC.  With the stopper in place rotate the engine clockwise until it no longer turns.   The crankshaft will be at exactly TDC.
    • Underneath the exhaust manifold there is a 13mm plug where the crankshaft stopper must be inserted. Use a wrench to remove the stud

    • Using the longer stopper, fully insert and screw it in until snug.

    • This will prevent the crankshaft from moving clockwise past TDC. With the stopper in place rotate the engine clockwise until it no longer turns. The crankshaft will be at exactly TDC.

    • This will not prevent the engine from rotating counter clockwise. Never rotate the engine counterclockwise

    • Do not use the stopper to prevent engine rotation. Always restrain engine movement with a proper tools

    I believe the size wrench needed to hold the Exhaust Camshaft in place is 1 1/8”

    George Swann - Réponse

  22. With the crankshaft stopper in place, rotate the engine clockwise until it no longer moves.  The timing bar should slide into place with relative ease.  We are now at TDC If the bar does not slide in easily, check that you are indeed at TDC and not at the top of the compression stroke If you are at TDC, the timing bar may still not quite fit.  As the belt ages it stretches, causing slight variations in the timing.  Using a proper sized open end wrench, you can rotate the cams slightly to get the bar into place
    • With the crankshaft stopper in place, rotate the engine clockwise until it no longer moves. The timing bar should slide into place with relative ease. We are now at TDC

    • If the bar does not slide in easily, check that you are indeed at TDC and not at the top of the compression stroke

    • If you are at TDC, the timing bar may still not quite fit. As the belt ages it stretches, causing slight variations in the timing. Using a proper sized open end wrench, you can rotate the cams slightly to get the bar into place

    • The camshafts are keyed to be held with open end wrenches between cylinders #1 and #2

    • The intake camshaft is a 1"

    • The exhaust camshaft is a 1 1/4"

  23. Due to slight variations in the the spacing between timing belt teeth, we must loosen but not remove the camshaft sprockets.   The intake sprocket bolt is hidden inside of the VCT gear, and the cover must be removed to expose it. There is a T55 Bolt holding the exhaust sprocket in place.  While holding the camshaft with a proper open end wrench, loosen but do not remove this bolt.  This will allow the camshaft sprocket to rotate. It is reccommended that you  remove the timing bar while loosening to avoid damage to the bar or the camshafts.  Do not use the bar to prevent rotation.   Use a proper sized open end wrench.
    • Due to slight variations in the the spacing between timing belt teeth, we must loosen but not remove the camshaft sprockets. The intake sprocket bolt is hidden inside of the VCT gear, and the cover must be removed to expose it.

    • There is a T55 Bolt holding the exhaust sprocket in place. While holding the camshaft with a proper open end wrench, loosen but do not remove this bolt. This will allow the camshaft sprocket to rotate.

    • It is reccommended that you remove the timing bar while loosening to avoid damage to the bar or the camshafts. Do not use the bar to prevent rotation. Use a proper sized open end wrench.

    • There is a T55 cap on the VCT gear. Unscrew it to expose the E18 bolt holding the exhaust camshaft sprocket in place with a proper open end wrench.

    • There is oil in this gear! Be prepared with a small container to catch it in. Clean all of the oil from the gear and ensure none gets on your crankshaft sprocket

  24. After all of the oil is drained, loosen the E18 bolt holding the intake sprocket in place while holding the camshaft with a proper open end wrench During reassembly this bolt will need to be torqued to 120 Nm During reassembly this bolt will need to be torqued to 37 Nm
    • After all of the oil is drained, loosen the E18 bolt holding the intake sprocket in place while holding the camshaft with a proper open end wrench

    • During reassembly this bolt will need to be torqued to 120 Nm

    • During reassembly this bolt will need to be torqued to 37 Nm

    • During reassembly this bolt will need to be torqued to 68 Nm

    • With both sprockets loose, place the timing bar back into the camshafts to ensure they remain at TDC

  25. It is recommended that the tensioner and idler pulleys be changed at the same time as the timing belt. There is one 10mm bolt holding the tensioner pulley in place There is one 15mm bolt holding the idler pulley in place
    • It is recommended that the tensioner and idler pulleys be changed at the same time as the timing belt.

    • There is one 10mm bolt holding the tensioner pulley in place

    • There is one 15mm bolt holding the idler pulley in place

    • The belt should slide off

    • This is the hole where the tensioner pulley's tab should slide into on reassembly

    • With the timing belt off, you should be able to freely spin the camshaft sprockets without rotating the camshafts while the timing bar is in place

    • With the timing belt removed never rotate the crankshaft or camshafts independently of one another. Doing so could result in permanent engine damage

  26. After rotating the crankshaft clockwise until it no longer moves to ensure it has remained at TDC, and the timing bar is inserted on the camshafts to ensure that they remained at TDC, we can begin to install the new timing belt. Begin by installing the new tensioner, tightening the 10mm bolt until it is hand tight Ensure that the tab on the pulley has fallen into its proper slot
    • After rotating the crankshaft clockwise until it no longer moves to ensure it has remained at TDC, and the timing bar is inserted on the camshafts to ensure that they remained at TDC, we can begin to install the new timing belt.

    • Begin by installing the new tensioner, tightening the 10mm bolt until it is hand tight

    • Ensure that the tab on the pulley has fallen into its proper slot

    • Ensure that the tensioner adjusting washer is in the 4 o'clock position

    • Install the new idler pulley, torquing the bolt to 25 Nm

  27. Starting on the crankshaft sprocket, slip the belt around it, working clockwise around the tensioner pulley, intake sprocket, exhaust sprocket, then idler pulley, all while keeping the belt under tension Starting on the crankshaft sprocket, slip the belt around it, working clockwise around the tensioner pulley, intake sprocket, exhaust sprocket, then idler pulley, all while keeping the belt under tension
    • Starting on the crankshaft sprocket, slip the belt around it, working clockwise around the tensioner pulley, intake sprocket, exhaust sprocket, then idler pulley, all while keeping the belt under tension

  28. With the belt installed, insert a 6mm hex key into the tensioner adjusting washer Rotate the washer counterclockwise to tension the belt During this process the tension indicator will move clockwise
    • With the belt installed, insert a 6mm hex key into the tensioner adjusting washer

    • Rotate the washer counterclockwise to tension the belt

    • During this process the tension indicator will move clockwise

    • Continue rotation until the tension indicator has reached the point where the mark on the tab is centered between the forks of the indicator

    • While preventing the tensoiner adjusting washer from moving, torque the 10mm bolt to 25 Nm

  29. With the new belt installed and tensioned, we must now torque the camshaft sprockets After removing the timing bar, while holding the camshaft with the proper wrench, torque the intake cam to 120 Nm
    • With the new belt installed and tensioned, we must now torque the camshaft sprockets

    • After removing the timing bar, while holding the camshaft with the proper wrench, torque the intake cam to 120 Nm

    • After removing the timing bar, while holding the camshaft with the proper wrench, torque the exhaust cam to 80 Nm

  30. Remove the timing bar and crankshaft stopper. Using the 18mm bolt on the crankshaft, rotate the engine 2 complete revolutions. When you get close to the second complete revolution, reinsert the stopper pin.  See Step #22.
    • Remove the timing bar and crankshaft stopper.

    • Using the 18mm bolt on the crankshaft, rotate the engine 2 complete revolutions.

    • When you get close to the second complete revolution, reinsert the stopper pin. See Step #22.

    • Rotate the crankshaft until it hits the stopper pin.

    • Attempt to reinsert the timing bar. If it slides right in, your engine is 100% in time! Congratulations! Go ahead and try this check again in any multiple of 2 complete rotations just to be triple sure.

    • If the bar does not slide in, and both camshafts are off: First ensure you are at TDC. If you are, follow the procedure to reloosen the camshaft sprockets, adjust them, and retorque them. Repeat this process until you can rotate the engine two complete revolutions, hit the stopper, and have the bar slide right in.

    • Failure to ensure proper timing could cause permanent engine damage. Take the time to follow each step again as precisely as possible.

    • If the bar does not slide in, and only the intake camshaft is off, your VCT gear may have to be timed independently. See the next step for more information on this.

  31. VCT or Variable Cam Timing allows the intake camshaft to rotate relative to the camshaft sprocket.  The VCT system must be in positive dead stop for the engine to be 100% in time. Failure to ensure the VCT system is in positive dead stop will result in poor engine performance and DTCs P1381 or P1383
    • VCT or Variable Cam Timing allows the intake camshaft to rotate relative to the camshaft sprocket. The VCT system must be in positive dead stop for the engine to be 100% in time.

    • Failure to ensure the VCT system is in positive dead stop will result in poor engine performance and DTCs P1381 or P1383

    • With the intake sprocket torqued, and the timing bar removed, attempt to rotate the intake camshaft with a proper open end wrench counterclockwise while holding the VCT housing with a strap wrench. The intake camshaft should not move. If so, you are at positive dead stop.

    • Rotate the camshaft clockwise no more than 1/4 of a rotation. You will hear oil sputter and drain from the VCT system. Rotating more than 1/4 of a rotation could result in permanent engine damage.

    • Attempt this counterclockwise rotation again. When you reach the limit of motion, you are at positive dead stop.

    • If your VCT gear is at positive dead stop and your intake camshaft is at TDC (the bar slides in) then torque the cap to 37 Nm

    • See this forum post for more information on clocking the VCT gear

    Where it says “see this forum post” DOOOOOO READ IT. It solves the issue of the intake timing not setting correctly even though all timing tools are in place and return. The inlet cam vct is in a hydraulic lock and not back against the stop.

    Thank you for providing such insight into this design issue.

    simmons_mike@hotmail.com - Réponse

    • Once you are convinced you engine is 100% in time, begin reassembly following proper torque specs starting on Step #18 and working backwards.

    • Failure to ensure your timing bar and pin do not line up nearly perfectly 100% of the time could result in permanent engine damage.

    • Start the car up and let it warm up. Take it for a test drive, briefly running the engine all the way through to its highest RPM

    • If you get DTCs P1381 or 1383, see the previous step for how to alleviate them. If you see poor performance or other DTCs, it may be that you did not carefully verify your engine was in time.

Conclusion

To reassemble your device, follow these instructions in reverse order. Be sure to follow proper torque specifications.

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William Chabot

Membre depuis le 14/01/2016

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5 commentaires

What an absolutely fantastic guide. Excellent pics and instructions. This is the best guide I have ever used! I’ve been a mechanic for over 60 years and this is the best! Great job! Thank You!

stevenpam2000 - Réponse

I did not expect to see this guide on iFixit. What a detailed and great step-by-step guide for the service all SVT Focus owners dread.

Joshua Perry - Réponse

How on earth did you wiggle the timing belt cover off without taking the engine mount AND studs out?

Big thanks for the guide.

r.373 - Réponse

Excellent presentation with very good insights and cautions. A couple of thoughts on improvements. 1) The factory workshop manual recommends loosening the water pump bolts prior to removing the serpentine belt, which eliminates the need for the strap wrench as recommended here. 2) When reassembling I waited to install the motor mount until after I had installed the serpentine belt. You get better access to that very tight area without the mount in the way. Otherwise this is a great addition to the factory manual which I had access to for this repair.

Gary Blakely - Réponse

Awesome guide for the svt focus. Other than this spark of hope I cannot find any info on my 04 svt focus. I have been told that the Chilton and helms manuals do not cover svt focus.

Mr Gray - Réponse

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