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Timing and balance shaft belt disaster

TheSuperJank

Probationary Member
15
1
Dec 12, 2019
Peru, Indiana
I bought a 94 laser rs back in August, and it ran good until October. I was going down the highway and it died for a moment then kicked back on, but would barely pull above 55mph. I went home.

I tore into the timing, the upper and lower covers are cracked to bits, theres belt shavings everywhere, and the timing belt is ground to the cables on one side. The camshafts arent aligned, and the balance shaft belt is completely gone.

Could the balance shaft belt have given out, and gotten into the timing belt making it skip teeth? Then shot through one of the many holes in the cover? Cuz that my best guess. This is a real pain for my broke 16 year old self. Any suggestions?
 

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motomattx

Proven Member
3,707
1,455
Dec 9, 2010
wampum, Pennsylvania
The first thing you do when you buy a used car with a timing belt is check and replace the timing belt, you just found out why. Its likely that the valves are bent at this point, but to answer your question yes, the balance belt does break and get tangled up in the main timing belt and cause engine damage if maintenance is not done, you will need to do a compression test, you probably have no compression in at least one cylinder, I would be surprised if you don't.
 

TheSuperJank

Probationary Member
15
1
Dec 12, 2019
Peru, Indiana
Dang that sucks. Can I do a compression test with just the ratchet on the crank or does it need to be turned by the starter? How do I check to see if the valves are bent? Thanks
 

TK's9d2TSi

Supporting Member
6,428
3,388
Sep 11, 2017
Cincinnati, Ohio
Sucks to hear that. There’s no point in checking compression when it’s out of time

Get the marks lined up and then check compression.
 
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1990TSIAWDTALON

Moderator
9,270
5,061
Nov 14, 2013
Independence, Kansas
Man that sucks. Matt is spot on with any car with a timing BELT. As much of a PITA as anyone thinks it is, I did one in the car recently and it was not that bad at all. I even changed cams at that time and it took most of the day to do it but I drove it that night. Did the balance shaft belt too so I had to pull the timing pulley off the crank. It wasn't that hard and any future DSM I purchase (I hope NONE), will get it first thing!
When valves get bent, repair costs go WAY up.
 

BLACK'98DSM

Proven Member
3,554
1,264
Feb 9, 2019
Alabama
If the valves are bent, then there's likely piston damage too. You may or may not be looking at a full teardown. Like stated though, get your timing set right and do a compression test. To answer your question, you should use your starter for a compression test, because you cannot rotate it that quickly by hand. I've done it by hand before on old 289 motors, but the numbers are always higher and more accurate when simply turning the key.
 

Cherry

Proven Member
277
60
Jun 16, 2019
Hull, Georgia
My balance shaft timing belt broke, took a trip and bent the valves. I no longer have balance shafts because I don't even want a remote possibility of that happening again.
 

sinned4g63

Proven Member
316
81
May 1, 2017
Pasadena, Maryland
It happens, but yeah can definitely make its way to the cams and do some harm. Mine went out on me this past summer but I got lucky and it was just the balance shaft belt, compression was good and turned over just didn't start. When you take off the belt covers and do your replacements check or replace your crank sensor too since it's there. My balance shaft belt hit the plate the sensor reads and sliced the sensor in half so it'd be good to make sure that plate looks good too.

The first thing you do when you buy a used car with a timing belt is check and replace the timing belt, you just found out why. Its likely that the valves are bent at this point, but to answer your question yes, the balance belt does break and get tangled up in the main timing belt and cause engine damage if maintenance is not done, you will need to do a compression test, you probably have no compression in at least one cylinder, I would be surprised if you don't.
I got incredibly lucky with mine, I bough it 5k after the timing belt was done but apparently the last owner skimped and didn't do the balance shaft belt.. Thankfully mine broke in like second gear under 30mph and when the sensor was taken out the car died immediately so the timing belt didn't carry the debris up to the cams.
 
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Mech Addict

Supporting Member
988
426
Jun 9, 2019
Jackson, Wyoming
Tough story. Makes me seriously inclined to spend the $500 and do mine, even though the previous owner said it was recently changed. Like some of these stories suggest, that means different things to different folks. An old DSM might not be the best choice for a broke 16yo.
 

BLACK'98DSM

Proven Member
3,554
1,264
Feb 9, 2019
Alabama
An old DSM might not be the best choice for a broke 16yo.
Its a great car to teach you patience on. And basic mechanical skills. If he wants something to beat the hell out of and not learn anything then he should go buy a Civic.
 

sinned4g63

Proven Member
316
81
May 1, 2017
Pasadena, Maryland
Tough story. Makes me seriously inclined to spend the $500 and do mine, even though the previous owner said it was recently changed. Like some of these stories suggest, that means different things to different folks. An old DSM might not be the best choice for a broke 16yo.
They are really great cars IMO but above anything they're 20 years old and with that comes some needed TLC. If you have slight mechanical aptitude and some patience then they're great to learn on and mostly very easy to work on and you won't be sorry with the results when you can enjoy driving it. But keeping in mind the age, a lot of them have also been beaten around through the years having been owned by more kids who didn't care then adults.

In the end it's just like any other 20 year old 2 door sporty type car.. Assume it's been abused at least a little, do the standard maintenance, and just take care of it! I wish I could have had one of these when I was 16..
 

TheSuperJank

Probationary Member
15
1
Dec 12, 2019
Peru, Indiana
I havent had anytime to work on the car but I did pick up a compression tester. Let me say though, it still runs. I drove it home after the belt snapped, not knowing what happened. It was just very low on power. It still starts right up even way out of time.

Do I need to replace the balance shaft belt or can I just leave it off to not risk having this problem again- as someone else said. What is the benefit of the balance shaft?
 

motomattx

Proven Member
3,707
1,455
Dec 9, 2010
wampum, Pennsylvania
The engine will vibrate more without the balancer shafts working, the right way to get rid of the balancer shaft belt is to do a balance shaft elimination which would be pretty hard without pulling the block from the car, I wouldn't recommend starting or running the car any more at all, the main timing belt can jump at any time and destroy things that aren't already destroyed.
 

TheSuperJank

Probationary Member
15
1
Dec 12, 2019
Peru, Indiana
Ok I'll fix the balancer then, and I've only started it to move it into the barn to work on. I was a careful as possible. I'll post updates when I get them
 

Cherry

Proven Member
277
60
Jun 16, 2019
Hull, Georgia
There are 2 balance shafts. One that the small belt turns, and the other is part of the oil pump. I rebuilt my engine so it was the perfect time to eliminate them and the kit isnt expensive.
 

TheSuperJank

Probationary Member
15
1
Dec 12, 2019
Peru, Indiana
Ok I finally got a chance to go look at the car. All the pulleys have good bearings, and rotate freely. Do I need to replace the timing belt tensioner, or can I just adjust it? (Belt seems a little loose)
 

TK's9d2TSi

Supporting Member
6,428
3,388
Sep 11, 2017
Cincinnati, Ohio
Ok I finally got a chance to go look at the car. All the pulleys have good bearings, and rotate freely. Do I need to replace the timing belt tensioner, or can I just adjust it? (Belt seems a little loose)

No. Replace both tensioners while you’re in there and go with oem timing belt tensioner. There’s a tensioner for tbelt and balancer belt. Make sure you get the correct timing belt tensioner for your year.
 

TheSuperJank

Probationary Member
15
1
Dec 12, 2019
Peru, Indiana
Update on the car I got it running and it's great. Thankfully valves weren't bent or anything. Dont buy the clear chinese upper timing cover. It may be be $20 cheaper and look cool, but it doesnt even fit because the holes are drilled wrong...

Update on the car I got it running and it's great. Thankfully valves weren't bent or anything. Dont buy the clear chinese upper timing cover. It may be be $20 cheaper and look cool, but it doesnt even fit because the holes are drilled wrong...
Thanks for all the help guys, this is my first time using this forum and it was great.
 
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