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Discussion Starter #1
So, I have done some Google searching, and have found conflicting answers on this subject, but I have a couple of questions about this engine since I have not really dealt with any of these engines before this 99 Cougar.

1. Is it or is it not an Interference engine. So if the timing belt breaks, is it going to tear itself up? It was changed about 30k ago, but just wanted to be sure.

2. Is it normal to have a pretty good tick during idle warm and cold? It sounds like it's coming from the timing belt area, but I have read that the injectors are loud. I haven't done a lot of digging yet so just curious what opinions you are have.

3. I just changed the oil in it, and used 5w30 conventional as suggested on the sticker under the hood. Does anyone use any other weights or synthetic and if you do, why?

4. I have read that some of these are 8 valve and some are 16 valve. How can I tell for sure? It does say VCT on the valve cover. I read in one place that meant it was 16 valve, but I can't confirm that.

I'm learning as I go with this car! Thanks.
 

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1. Pretty sure the US spec Zetec is non-interference, but someone with more knowledge than me should confirm or dispute that.
3. I always use either synthetic (Mobil-1 usually) or the Motorcraft (a very good semi-synthetic) in my Duratec, mostly for peace of mind for when I go over the change interval.
4. 16-valve, DOHC, exhaust timing is variable.
 

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The 8-valve 2.0 was used in the escort and focus, but never in the Contour/Cougar. 8 valves are single-cam engines. All twin-cam versions have 16 (8 per cam).
 

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I don't know much at all about these engines but I do know Ford released a TSB some years ago stating nearly all their engines should use 5w-20 regardless of original recommendations. I wondered this as my Cougar requires 5w-20 but my Contour was 5w-30. Not sure if the Zetec is included but worth checking. So, since the TSB they recommend 5w-20 now in my Contour.

BTW if you're unsure of the maintenance history, consider using Marvel Mystery Oil or perhaps Seafoam.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks everyone. I will have to look up the TSB's on it and see what oil it says to use.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I did find the following TSB. Doesn't say 1999 models, but can't find much more about it.

Communication Number: 0147, Date: 2001-03-05 Category: 061100 ENGINE AND ENGINE COOLING:ENGINE:GASOLINE Summary: SUBJECT REGARDING ENGINE OIL RECOMMENDATIONS FOR USE IN 2001 VEHICLES - SAE 5W-20 MOTOR OIL.
 

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The only reason for the switch was to add a point or two to their corporate fuel economy numbers. Either weight is fine. If you don’t drive in a demanding fashion, feel free to use 5W-20. 30 will give you a little more protection though.
 
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Discussion Starter #8
I'm still confuised on whether this is an interference engine or not. The Haynes manual I have says it is, but some people in forums say otherwise.
 

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From what I read, the US models are non interference. Other markets are.
 

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All US 2.0 Zetec's were non-interference EXCEPT the Focus SVT engine. BUT most computers don't differentiate them, so they're all listed as interference. It was actually a nice little money making scheme for a while where people were selling ZX2's, Foci, and Escape's for dirt cheap because their mechanic said it needed a whole engine after the belt let go on the highway, when all it needed was a belt and timing job.
 
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