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I recently bought a 94 Escort Wagon with the 1.9liter engine. It runs fine except for a rough idle when in gear but not in park or neutural. I didn't expect a major problem and suspected a vacuum leak. It has 117800 miles on it which I didn't thnk was excessive for the year. I put new plugs, plug wires, pcv valve, air filter, breather filter and had a new timing belt, water pump, and serpentine belt installed. It still had the rought idle and decided to take it to independent shop. They told me that is has a major engine problem and Cylinders 1 and 2 have excessive blow-by. I did notice some oil in the air filter and breather box. Cylinders 3 and 4 are normal. The car doesn't run bad, especially for one that has two cylinders in trouble. I'd appreciate some thoughts from this Escort community. I'm hoping that engine overhaul is not needed and something else could be causing this condition.
 

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In your situation, the first thing I would do is a compression check. You might want to do it both with the engine hot (having just run) and with it cold (having sat overnight or at least all day). Then give us the results, including what the spark plug ends looked like . While it could be blowby, (meaning bad piston rings) I wonder if it could be either a headgasket leaking between the two cylinders, or a valve problem. I havent heard that Escorts break piston rings much, but headgaskets going and the inlet valve seats failing have happened often enough to be 'known'.
To get the #1 spark plug out, I use a 3/8" drive ratchet, with a 9" extension of a type called a 'wobble' extension. It has the flattened square sides of the male end slightly curved, so the socket can be at a small angle to the extension. Then I would use a 5/8" deep socket on the end of that. I got one specifically for use with spark plugs. It has a magnetic ring inside, so the plug will come with the socket instead of falling back onto the space in the head. And good luck....
 

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I agree you need to do a compression test. Sounds like there may be a problem with the head gasket between cylinders 1 & 2.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Hello, thanks for your interest. The shop did do a compression test.
#1 is at 110, #2 is at 102, #3 is at 112, and #4 is at 115. I was also thinking it was the head gasket and mentioned this to the shop manager. He didn't think it was since I'm not loosing any water nor is it overheating.
I talked to two Ford dealers today and they thought it was more of a issue with the head than rings.
 

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I cleaned the MAF, Idle Control Valve, and Throttel Body this morning. Early returns look promissing. The idle seems better and overall performance. I had fresh oil in the air breather filter to clean out. I'm thinking the blow-by issue isn't going away but doesn't seem as dire as the shop indicated. I'm starting to think its been running lean for a long time and may have some burnt valves. I found a Ford Service bullitin related to MAF not working properly and causing a lean fuel mixture which leads me to think is the root of the problem.
 

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You might want to check/replace the PCV valve. If it gets stopped up, the blow by wont be drawn into the intake, but will go outward to the air filter housing instead.
 

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Good Luck. We await the results, when and if you learn what the basic cause was. Hopefully it will buzz along for a long time.
 

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Thanks.... At this point I plan on driving it for awhile to see if it gets worse. Doing any major engine work at this point isn't possible and although it not 100% its still getting 30 MPG and the performance isn't terribly bad.
 

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This is interesting. My girl's escort has has a steadily worsening idle, and has gotten bad enough that it has affected the shifting when taking off from a stop. I have previously checked out the egr and a bunch of other stuff. We took it to a mechanic friend who has checked several things and not been able to find much wrong. He tried narrowing it down to a cylinder but wasn't able to find any major differences in how they are working. We are going to do plugs, plug wires, and fuel filter and see how it goes from there.

He did say there was some blow-by into the valve covers that he noticed by taking off the oil fill cap. I'm wondering where the blow-by could be coming from.

I'm thinking about doing compression and leak-down tests on it.
 

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94escortwagon said:
I recently bought a 94 Escort Wagon with the 1.9liter engine. It runs fine except for a rough idle when in gear but not in park or neutural. I didn't expect a major problem and suspected a vacuum leak. It has 117800 miles on it which I didn't thnk was excessive for the year. I put new plugs, plug wires, pcv valve, air filter, breather filter and had a new timing belt, water pump, and serpentine belt installed. It still had the rought idle and decided to take it to independent shop. They told me that is has a major engine problem and Cylinders 1 and 2 have excessive blow-by. I did notice some oil in the air filter and breather box. Cylinders 3 and 4 are normal. The car doesn't run bad, especially for one that has two cylinders in trouble. I'd appreciate some thoughts from this Escort community. I'm hoping that engine overhaul is not needed and something else could be causing this condition.
Sounds like my 98 Tracer, when I bought it, it ran perfect. It had a minor shake when in reverse. Had the A/C replaced and it came back with a terrible idle! The shop corrected most of the idle issues but never could figure out what caused it.. I then found after reading online that the "rough idle" issue seems to be a common problem for Escorts.

I ended up replacing the timing belt, motor mounts, IAC, checked and checked for vacuum leaks. I also had a compression test done at a shop and all cylinders are fine. Wire's and plugs where checked as well air filter was also replaced. The shop tried, I did what I could at home from reading up on it on the net and I've read and read about this and still the rough idle is still there. Someone did once mention that putting some carb cleaner into their air filter helped smooth out the idle but that's really just covering up the symptom instead of curing the root cause.

I personally think nothing short of Christ himself can fix this issue! lol
 

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My 9 year old ZX2 is shaking like an earthquake every time I stop. I brought it into the shop today to have it looked at and they said the engine's timing belt needs to be replaced to fix the shakes. I'm praying that new belt will heal all.
 

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Aubs said:
My 9 year old ZX2 is shaking like an earthquake every time I stop. I brought it into the shop today to have it looked at and they said the engine's timing belt needs to be replaced to fix the shakes. I'm praying that new belt will heal all.
The new belt on mine did get rid of a lot of the shakes! The old one had slipped a few teeth and knocked everything off.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I found the pcv system had another problem. I had replaced the valve but didn't notice the elbow hose going into the intake plenum was not at a 90 degree angle. Looked at it closer and the rubber looked rotted and not much of an opening. I tried to clean it but ended up breaking it. I got a piece of hose as a replacement and this seemed to help. I'm getting much less oil back into the air box. The idle is still rough but the car seems to run better. I went one step further, removed the pcv and hose, blocked it at the air intake plenum, and just letting the crankcase breath. Going to try this for a couple of days to see how it works. My 57 Fairlane has a down draft tube and this is essentially doing the same thing, so thought well its worth a test. The idle is still rough but if I can get the oil to stop going into the air box, I'll replace the MAF and Idle Control Valve. The car does seem to be getting better gas mileage but won't know until its time for another fillup.

I wondering, since this has been plugged up for appearently a long time, if the intake plenum could be glogged too.
 

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Update: The car has been driving fairly well, at least until it was in an accident a couple of days ago, but while I'm getting it fixed I still have the rough idle, especially with the air conditioner on. Which here in Colorado its most mornings due to when the defroster are on high the air conditioner kicks in. I heard that a possibility is the air intake plenum could be cracked, has anyone experienced this? I've sprayed starting fluid around the air intake but can't find a leak, however I can't get up underneath the intake and get a good spray of starting fluid up there.
 
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