My car recently died while idling at a stop light. We discovered the timing belt slipped and it was unable to start. It is an interference engine, but I was wondering whether since it slipped while idling what the chances are that there wont be any piston or valve damage. I would hate to put any more money in to a totaled car or if there is a chance fixing the timing belt could make it run again. Any advice?
The Check Engine light will turn on when the belt jumps one tooth, and the diagnostic fault code will be "cam and crank sync". At two teeth off, the Engine Computer will shut the engine down to protect the valves. It takes three teeth off for the valves to be bent. If the belt did not break, and is only off by two teeth, you should be safe.
If you have the single cam engine, remove the sprocket from the camshaft and replace the dowel pin. It is common for them to shear off, then the sprocket turns a little making the camshaft late. That will also set that fault code and stop the engine.