Ford Fiesta Timing Belt Broke 45,000 Km before It Was Due to Be Replaced - Ford Hitting Me up for Repairs

I purchased my Fiesta S brand new from a dealership in 2015. The car was regularly serviced with my mechanic as per the vehicle logbook.

About 6 weeks ago the engine cut out after making a rattling sound and wouldn't start again.

It was towed to my mechanic who diagnosed it as a broken timing belt. Even though it was out of warranty, the timing belt was not due to be changed until 150,000km - my vehicle had travelled 105,000km. I got in touch with Ford head office who got me to have the car towed to the local dealership (where I purchased the vehicle).

The dealership diagnosed the issue as the teeth that drive the timing belt have worn away due to "incorrect oil or oil not being changed". The car needs a new engine. They got me to submit my receipts from the mechanic to them so they could see that it was serviced correctly with the correct oil.

My mechanic is old school (our family has been going to him for years), and hand writes receipts in an invoice book.

The dealership have come back to me and are vaguely accusing me of forging receipts ("anybody could have written them"), they want nice typed receipts from accounting software, and the response from Ford corporate is for them to pay 25% of the new engine cost, and me 75% - my out of pocket expenses would be around $6500.

I'm not accepting this outcome as I have receipts to prove the oil used was correct and was changed as per the servicing schedule, just because they're hand written from my mechanic shouldn't have any bearing on the outcome - written receipts from an invoice book are still legal and valid receipts. My mechanic still has the duplicate copy in his invoice books.

I don't know where to go from here as I feel I am being given a raw deal due to handwritten receipts!

Any advice?

TLDR: Timing belt broke 45,000km before it should have, dealership saying it's because "wrong oil or oil not changed". Oil was correct and was changed. Dealership don't like the mechanic's handwritten receipts and are now saying I am liable for 75% of the cost of a new engine.

Edit: My case manager at Ford has been very helpful and understanding, I just feel like the dealership (who have been terrible!) is giving Ford incorrect information and is hindering my chance at a fair response.


  • +21

    Keep pushing the dealer and head office. Keep record of every conversation and enails. If you have seeviced as per maintenance manual you should have a case. Off to small claims I suspect. You need ACN number and their details.

    • +3

      Don't forget your "esnails" either, although they too might not be modern (or fast enough) enough for these bastards…

      • +3

        He said he has electronic nails, not electronic snails! However, to be perfectly honest, I'm not sure how much use either would be!

        • +1

          No use for electronic nail throwing killer robot snails? Are you for real?

    • +1

      Manufacturer has basically stated (albeit in not so many words) that if it was serviced correctly with the correct materials then it is warranty. OP has proof that this is the case, so if OP has that statement from the manufacturer in written, done.

  • +15

    Why do they even make cars with timing belts and not chains?

    • +13


    • +6

      Timing chains still break. Rarer, but they're still a consumable item which needs inspected, adjusted and replaced

      Timing chain engines tend to be louder in operation, maybe that's why some manufacturers use belts, also may be a cost thing

      • +5

        Timing chains don't break, but they'll stretch

        • Same same

        • +5

          Timing chain tensioners fail. Quite regularly in some cars.

          • +2

            @Spic3y: ahem, holden astra, ahem

            • +7

              @Jackson: Nissan X-Trails, Patrols. Quite a few of the VAG engines. Early K-series Honda's. Holden's 'Alloytec'.

              Timing chains are hardly bulletproof..

              • +1

                @Spic3y: which is why some companies can make a decent car with either, while others can't

        • +1

          My 1985 ford laser timing chain broke…. To be fair though, the piece of metal from the oil lid broke and fell into the engine…

          • @msimpatient: Same thing happened to my 83, made me sad, car was in showroom condition and I was on a pension and not well enough to fix it, would do it now, wish I could have kept it.

        • If the timing chain stretches, the valves and pistons can collide and cause serious engine damage such that the engine has to be rebuilt or replaced.

      • some people have the view that at least with a timing belt it's being serviced regularly and tensioners/pulleys etc will be inspected at the same time. where as engines with issues around timing chains, guides etc, are generally harder to access as theyre not meant to be serviced, often go ignored and lead to disaster and cost more than regularly servicing a timing belt alternative.

    • -6

      Mainly due to cost but chains also need to be replaced regularly. Timing chains are harder to get to as they need to be fully enclosed for lubrication and even then they will stretch over time.

      • +3

        Replaced regularly? No way. Stretched, yes, but at least that way you get plenty of warning by way of rattling noises and perhaps sloppy valve timing.

    • +6

      It's different engineering principals.
      Chains are just as crap. Vw timing chains on the 1.2 & 1.4 stretch all the time.

      The timing chain tensioner on the 1.8 & 2.0 EA888 stuff up all the time and then the valves get friendly with the pistons. That will be $7k please.

        • +3

          100% of Japanese sports bike reving to 16000+ RPM

          Or gear-driven cams ;)

        • @freshisbest.

          I said "Chains are just as crap (as a timing belt)", not "chains are crap".

          As I said, chains are no better than a belt. Both have their advantages and disadvantages as do timing gears.

          I only worked on the tools as a mechanic for just on 8 years but changed plenty of timing chains, timing belts and timing gears (Holden red 6 had nylon timing gears off the crank) in that time.

          Did you ever hear the timing chain rattle in a sigma/magna engine in Australia? I'd much rather the belt driven version they had in NZ. It revved higher and was much quieter.

          As I said, there different engineering principals for all three designs and it depends on the performance outcome you want.

          Why did Ducati go from bevel drive to belt drive? Why does the LS series of engines continue with pushrods?

          I'd thoroughly agree that the 1.2 & 1.4 cam drive system is a steaming pile of manure but that does make the observation invalid.

            • @Freshisbest: I'm not sure what you are asking.
              The original 750SS & 900SS had a bevel drive up to the desmo valves. If it wasn't set up correctly it caused a world of pain. When Ducati replaced it with a belt (mid 80s?) the production costs reduced dramatically and reliability increased (especially for high mileage units) and service costs reduced. Still not as good as the Japanese but that's the cost of character. :-)

      • This hit home too closely :(

    • +2

      Nissan Navaras have timing chains and the timing chains give a world of issues.

    • +2

      Chains are noisier.

    • Edit: As above

    • +4

      NVH. belt is quieter and smoother.

    • cuz chain also stretches
      look at BMW N14 engines, timing chain failed on every single 1 series and minis
      also dont forget the VW EA888 engine, it burns oil by stretched chain
      and honda's jazz also failed on timing chain as well
      belt is a better choice tbh

  • +1

    Does it have warranty?

    • Out of warranty unfortunately.

      • +26

        Regardless of warranty or no warranty, you have consumer guarantee rights under Australian Consumer Law. Exercise them.

        • Then they'll tell you to get stuffed, not their problem anymore if it's out of warranty unless you're happy to pay for the replaccement and labour done to fix it.

      • +10

        I believe there is still clauses for (and these wont be the exact terms, but) the reasonable serviceable life of the product. 5 years is WAY less than reasonable for a car, especially following the service book so well. Don't buy their BS about the receipts, a receipt is a receipt. Fight the good (and probably long) fight, I'd wager you stand to prevail. If all seems lost contact John Cadogan and he'll probably scare them into doing it just by them seeing his name lol.

  • +24

    Why can't they just verify the legitimacy of the receipts with the mechanic directly if they don't believe you? How hard is it? They are likely just using it as an excuse then?

    • +8

      I have told them this! I don't know why they can't just do this.

      • +24

        They can, they just don't WANT to because they know they won't like the answer they get.

      • +24

        Get a statutory declaration from the mechanic that the receipts are from him. He'll have to list the receipt numbers, state his ABN and MVRIC licence # (or similar).

        Also, ask Ford in writing "What specific documentation do you need to verify the service schedule" Whenever it is something you can't comply with you answer in writing "I can't supply x but I have got Y and this is part of acceptable documentation and business practice. If Ford disagrees with this documentation please provide proof in law that this documentation is unacceptable" Basically you keep throwing it back on them to show where in law they are correct and you are wrong.

        Also, talk to the ACCC and learn about statutory warranties and "Fitness for Purpose". I assume the belt teeth failed before the time limit as well as the mileage limit?

      • +2

        I would also indicate that they can't just accuse you of forging them. If they suspect that the invoices are forged they need to substantiate this. Otherwise they need to take them as genuine.

    • +28

      Car manufacturers and dealerships must love people like you if you call that a good result.

      • +9

        He must be from Ford, I'm sure an alarm rings at HQ when someone posts something with "Ford" and "Warranty" in the same sentence

        • +2

          They set it up, but have probably turned it off by now.

  • +30

    Don’t deal with the dealership, deal with your case manager at Ford. The dealership are the ones that want you to pay because they can make money out of you. They won’t be making money if Ford pay for it.

    Keep pushing your case with the case manager. Tell them that you can no longer talk with the dealer as you feel that they are not supporting you and you will only communicate through the case manager.

    Also, the reason they are giving you is bullshit. The oil used has nothing to do with cam belts. The belt does not go anywhere near the oil, but you might want to check your service schedule, as some belts will have a time/distance component. It may be 150,000km OR 3 years.

    And I would definitely be pushing for 100% on a 5yo car with full service history. And $6,500 for a new engine would make the car an economical write off. You could probably buy a whole used car for the price they are quoting.

    If you get no joy out of them, start getting onto your states consumer protection body and let the case manager know that you are going to start taking that option.

    • +4

      I wouldn't call it BS - a hydraulic cam belt tensioner requires clean (correct weight/grade) engine oil to operate.

      • +7

        a: Does this engine have a hydraulic cam tensioner? or an eccentric adjustment? or a spring tensioner?
        b: I have since learned (Thanks @lordsnipe) that the cam belts on this particular engine do come in contact with oil (for some ungodly know design reason), so I have updated my knowledge.
        c: Doesn't matter anyway, because OP has indicated that the correct oil was used and the service schedule was followed.

    • +6

      Thanks for your help - the case manager is meant to call me today with further news regarding the case. I will tell her I don't want the dealership to contact me any longer.

    • +9

      "The belt does not go anywhere near the oil" - The 1L Ford Ecoboost motor which is in this car has a belt which is oil lubricated. (at 50 seconds)

      • +4

        has a belt which is oil lubricated

        …but but but….. wtf?

        As @flying ace said, $$$. "Yeah mate, gotta knock a few dollars off the BOM. Belts, chains, same thing right?"

      • +12

        Well, that is the first I have ever seen of a rubber cam belt being run through oil. I will put that on my "Today I Learned" list. We have not had one of these through our workshop because not many of them would be up for a timing belt yet. I don't know if OP has the 1.0 or the 1.5 (I am going to assume the "S" means Sport and thus the 1.0 Ecoboost)

        Also, watching the video, it appears to have 2 belts. One (1) that runs what seems to be the oil pump, and the other (2) that runs the cams. I need to see a better breakdown of one of these engines, because I am still not 100% convinced that the main cam shaft belt is bathed in oil… (not saying it isnt, just saying I really want to see one of these engines on a bench.)

        All that being said, it really doesn't matter as OP has claimed;

        I have receipts to prove the oil used was correct and was changed as per the servicing schedule

        It doesn't matter if the belt runs through oil or not, if OP has proof that it was serviced regularly and by the book using the oil specified by the manufacturer, the claims by the dealer about the oil is still a moot point.

        • +1

          You're correct - it's the 1.0L EcoBoost.

        • +4

          Going on my today I learned list too

    • +8

      The ford timing belt runs in the engine oil. It's a new innovation to save fuel. What a surprise it isn't working quite as well as the lab tests showed.

      • +7

        I thought you were specifically not meant to let oil get on your belts, since they can degrade faster? At least that's what I've heard about my old Camry

        • +4

          That's exactly what my mechanic said when he found out the timing belt runs in oil.

          • +11

            @Flying Ace: I'm a mechanic, and this is the first I have heard of rubber belts running in oil (hence my comment above saying oil has nothing to do with belts)

            I just don't know what rubber they are using with these belts that gives them better qualities to resist hot oil that would be in the sumps of engines. I have seen plenty of timing belts in my time that have been absolutely obliterated because they were in contact with some oil (let alone bathed in it).

            Normal timing belts are around the 100,000km replacement frame. These ecoboost ones are bathed in hot oil and pushed out to 150,000 and 10 years? I have a feeling that your issues are not going to be the last we hear of this…

            • @pegaxs: Pass the popcorn… this just keeps getting better and better!

          • +2

            @Flying Ace: So do you have any confirmation yet that your mechanic was using the correct oil for the car? This has been asked many times. And the fact that the timing belt runs in the oil would make needing the correct oil vital for its expected life.

            The fact that you've said that he didn't know about it leave little confidence with his knowledge on your particular car.

      • +4

        This is just like the Ford PowerShift gearboxes (that were in Focus, Fiesta and EcoSport).

        Ford rushed them out despite engineers telling management that the gearboxes had a lot of problems.

        The court case in Australia is currently running at the moment.

        Don't buy Ford.

  • +10

    Is mechanic paid in cash or on card? If on card, you should be able to get statements to show the amount/$ transferred at the dates specified by the receipts.
    You can get the mechanic to perform a stat dec as well.

  • +2

    Why are Ford corporate suggesting 25%? Is it because that's their standard lowball offer for everyone, or because they are buying into the dodgy receipt story, and would be higher with accounting software receipts? Because the dodgy receipt story can be disproved.

    • +5

      I would suggest it's the first lowball offer to see if I would accept.

      • This, so you know what to do….

        …and in case you don't, the answer is "don't accept" :-)

  • +12

    The cars only worth 8-10k in working order, I’d be hesitant to drop $6500 on it.

    • An 8k car might need a timming belt replacment

  • +9

    Maybe create a youtube video like this classic I Made A Mistake & Bought A Jeep

  • +3

    Speaking from experience - get in touch with your local consumer protection agency & lodge a complaint asap.
    You can contact ACCC aswell but they won't do anything at individual level & just take down your case details.
    In the meantime keep on sending emails to dealer & head-office with your concerns and the desired outcome.
    You can also get a report from an independent mechanic - bit of hassle but it will strengthen your case if it goes to court.

  • +4

    I would be pushing Ford to replace the engine as you would not expect a newish car to have such a significant failure if it has been maintained as per the recommended schedules. What I havent obtained from the above is the time period under which the belt needs changing - ie every 5 years or 100k? I suspect its 5 years and being a 5 year old car, it would be lineball?

    I fought with Subaru for years regarding their dodgy head gasket designs saying that the head gasket should largely last the life of the car as its a non-serviceable item.

    As for evidence, your mechanic could sign a stat dec? When did you change over to the private mechanic? Was it ever serviced by the dealer?

    Keep at them and wish you all the best!

    • +4

      Thanks for the support! The service book only says 150,000km, no year limit specified.

      I've been using my mechanic since I was driving - 13-14 years or so I guess. The car has been serviced with him all its life.

    • I was speaking to a bloke and this came up the other day, how did you go against Subaru? Everyone knows their head gaskets suck apparently

      • No dice. My car was sold (2001) well before the enhanced protection laws came in. My head started to leak at 7 yrs of age. Somewhere around then.

        • How many kms?

  • +3

    I have nothing helpful to add, but saw this recently:

    • +3

      Nope, turns out I have been pronouncing Ford correctly all these years…

    • +7

      Thank you for the quick maths, however this has nothing to do with the story in which a part failed almost 50,000km before it was meant to - warranty or not.

      • Are timing belts 150000 or 5 years?

        • +1

          They vary considerably between different engines.

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