Timing belt replacement

I have a 2004 Ford Focus, diesel, with about 160,000 km (I want to say miles, but I bought it here in France!) I bought it used and apparently the timing belt has never been changed. It runs well, but someone told me (and I think I recall it happening to a car in the States) that the timing belt can just break without warning and lead to costly engine repairs. So. I probably should have it replaced? If so, does anyone have a rough idea of what I should expect to pay? Also, how to say timing belt in French, or to ask, in French, to have it checked. Thanks

That is for a I.8 diesel. I would still advise checking the exact specification of the car.

Also, in view of the high labour content, the additional cost of genuine Ford parts is not very significant.

I thought Ford diesels had timing chains....... Unlike belts, that tend to fail suddenly, a chain will wear out gradually and a competent motor engineer will be able to tell if it is in need of replacement.

Generally speaking, timing chains tend to last the life of the car and rarely get replaced.

If you Google the exact spec. of your car, you should be able to find what type of timing mechanism it has.

With regards to costs there is an interesting survey here from Que Choisir (the equivalent of Which)


However, note that the survey dates from 2009 and the price of labour has risen considerably since then.

This looks interesting though


Even better!


Janice, The water pump replacement as Tony corrected me is not as important on the Ford as it is my Renault. The relevant tensioners and pulleys should be replaced as part of the kit, not just the belt.

Thanks again for all the responses. One of the reasons I’d hoped to live in France without a car, was all the attendant expenses of car ownership. I quickly found being carless was too limiting. Now, I suppose, I must pay for pleasure. But after reading all the remarks about replacing not just the timing belt, but the water pump, etc., I’m even more confused. If, just for the sake of cost, I only have the timing belt replaced, will it just be a matter of time before the water pump goes, and then something else? An endless outlay of expenses? Is there a point at which I can feel relaxed about driving–other than shelling out for a brand new car! At the moment the car seems to be running quite well. I live near Montpellier, in September will move to the Pezenas area. Herault. If anyone knows of a reliable mechanic, I’d appreciate the info…

Many years ago, had a cam belt go on my BMW 3 series , at 60,000 miles. Fortunately, my ex-Oh had been a car nechanic and So I knew what it was and although it went as i was on a busy roundabout, I knew not to try and restart car . called AA (was still in UK btw at this time ) Fortunateky they towed me to BMW garage and as it had been regularly serviced etc at said garage and they couldnt prove they had changed cam belt on the last service, as they should have, they replaced the cam etc… Now this was in 1994 and the Cost then was over 600.00 pounds for the cam and the damage to engine ., negligent BMW garage paid the bill !!
…I,d get it checked !!

Sorry yes Tony, just that I have been busy today sourcing the Renault kit and trying to decide if I should roll up my sleeves or pass on the job. If I could find a competent person for £200 inc I would tear their arm off to save me the job.

Why this wouldn't post under tony's comment i don't know?

Yup, totally concur, 100, 000kms is enough for a courroie de distribution, and for 400 € I’d get two done at the same time

Hi Janice

If you choose to do nothing else, the timing belt/chain is a must, other servicing items can be left a little longer, but defo get the belt/s changed. I don't know quite whereabouts you are, but I have only been here a few weeks, and met a chap recommended to me by the previous house owner, who seems a spot on mechanic, thoroughly professional and really knew his stuff, a couple miles from Ruffec, if you need another quote


Not a bad price for France, yes Ford state it should be changed at 100,000 miles compared to Renault Scenic at 72,000. Often a good idea to change the water pump at the same time as the failure of that will in all probability take out the new belt and cause the valves to bury them selves into the pistons which is very expensive to repair.

Thanks everyone. I took it in to the local mechanic who gave me an estimate of approximately 400 euros which seems reasonable, I’ve also used him before and he seems pretty reliable.

'courroie de distribution'

it is definitely due at that mileage and if it breaks it could well kill the car or worse. apparently (this is purely what I have heard no technical knowledge to back it up) it just snaps and the engine will stop dead - not funny if you are in the fast lane of the motorway!

I thought it was 100,000 miles or every ten years on those engines. I'd get it done sooner rather than later if I were you.

And yes, It will REALLY ruin your day if it breaks...


Not sure about the practicalities of getting it done, but I was advised a timing belt should be replaced no later than 70k miles because of the consequences of it failing being so horrendous. 160km is over 99k miles so i'd take the advice.