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Re: timing belt broke on my dodge caravan 1998
Changing the belt itself is not too difficult, but getting to it is. There is a lot of stuff to remove before you get there. Depending upon your skill level and the amount of patience you have, a job such as this is better left to a reputable shop, unless you have lots of time and another vehicle to drive while you are working on it. If you do it yourself, get a decent repair manual... I can't give instructions here... just too much to write!
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It can be amessy job. The core has to be drained first by disconnecting the hoses at the firewall. You will most likely to remove the glove box and trim around the blower. It will involve alot of working from the ground under the lower dash i.f youre handy and can work without being messy it can be done. One note of advice if you spill coolant into your floorboards and it gets into the sound deadener pads the smell will be there a long long time it really stinks.
It is possible that this is a zero clearence engine. Meaning that the valves can hit the pistons if the cam timing is off or the timing belt breaks. I would strongly suspect that you have bent valves. This can easily be diagnosed with a compression test. If valves are bent the repair will require at least a rebuilt cylinder head and gaskets. It is also possible that there could be piston damage as well. The reason it is not starting is it has no compression due to bent valves.
A simple bolt on assembly, the tensioner for the serpentine belt may need replacement if it fails to smoothly pivot and maintain tension on the belt.
Using a half inch breaker bar, release tension by rotating against the spring, remove the belt from the tensioner. Unbolt the tensioner (one bolt may be so diffucult to reach that you might want to use a racheting open end wrench by Alden.
Install the new tensioner by reversing these steps.
I usually replace the belt at the same time.