Windstars have timing chains, not timing belts. The chain rides on tensioner rails, frequently made of hard plastic. They do wear out. The high mileage you indicate may warrant these items inspected. Unfortunately, they are not easily accessible unless the whole front of the engine is pulled off.
You can make an educated guess in regards to overall motor condition. Good engines run quiet. Worn out engines have lots of clicking and rattles within. If you cannot distinguish valvetrain clicking from rod knocking and chain clatter, this technique can help: Get a long screwdriver and place the blade-end on any metal part near the timing cover. Run the engine, observe obvious safety precautions, and make a fist over the handle end. Place your ear on your fist, or directly on the handle and listen for any rattles making their vibrations from the timing cover up the screwdriver shank.
Also, to see if the vehicle has had good routine maintenance done, just take off the oil-fill cap (engine off) and stick your finger in there as far as you can. Feel for any sludge build up. If there's carbon or sludge, that means oil was not regularily replaced and could be cause for extended internal component wear.
Finally, any metal filings coming out of the oil drain hole during an oil change is a sign of trouble. While draining the oil, let the oil drain over a strong magnet. When the draining stops, if there is any residue stuck to the magnet, you know you have internal engine wear.
Friday, August 21st, 2009 AT 10:53 AM