Timing chain broken!! | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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Timing chain broken!!


New Member
December 11, 2012
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City, State
Springfield, MO
Year, Model & Trim Level
1997 ford explorer
4.0 SOHC V6 '97 Ford Explorer 305,284 miles. Loud Clicking noise started about a week ago. Let my mechanic drive it, but no noise. A few days later, extremely loud clicking that got louder with RPMs. (I was on a road trip at this point) On my way home the car died.(thankfully just a few miles away) Started her up again and she died a few minutes later. Mechanic said it's the left timing chain that broke and after compression tests on cylinder 1 (90psi) and 5 (10psi) they believe she needs cylinder head ( intake/exhaust valve) repair. They recommend replacing the whole engine. That will cost too much money. Any suggestions on next steps? ** Also, I was planning to move back to NC (i'm in MO) when the car broke... Should I try to get it fixed? Or sell her as is? Or for parts? I just spent a couple hundred last month on new brakes/rotors.

sell as is?

300,000 miles on the original set of camshaft timing components is very fortunate. Many engines prior to 2002 with the improved components fail at less than 200,000 miles.

The weak compression (90 psi) on cylinder #1 (passenger side bank) could be due to engine wear or a slipped timing chain. The very low compression (10 psi) on cylinder #5 (driver side bank) could also be due to a slipped chain. Since the engine was running when the slip occurred there may be valve damage. It is easy to tell if the chain is broken just by removing the oil fill cap on the valve cover and see if the camshaft rotates.

With the high mileage and poor compression I agree that it would be best to rebuild or replace the engine. If you must pay someone to do the work it would be less expensive to have the engine replaced. However, the cost of the work may exceed the retail value of the vehicle. It is not unusual to find 1997 models in this area with very little rust and in good condition except for timing chain problems sell for $800 to $1,000. Sometimes they can't sell for that so they get sold for scrap metal. Remember, the transmission is not that strong and also has over 300K miles on it. If you part it out yourself you'll have to find some way to move it after the drive train has been removed.

Your best option may be to sell the entire vehicle as it is to someone capable of replacing the engine with no cost labor.