1993 LX Battle Ax Wagon (It's an eyesore, but wow has it been reliable) | Ford Escort Owners Association (FEOA)

1993 LX Battle Ax Wagon (It's an eyesore, but wow has it been reliable)

Discussion in 'Introductions' started by jrm000kc, Sep 25, 2019.

  1. jrm000kc

    jrm000kc FEOA Member

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    Hey folks! Nice to see a website devoted to these incredibly durable cars. 10 years ago I was driving out to my Dad's farm and I saw a black Escort with $700 written on the windshield so I stopped and test drove it. It's a wagon, but I didn't care as it ran and shifted just fine. (My oldest sister bought a '94 brand new. She can tear up a ball bearing in a sand pile and between her and my brother-in-law they put nearly 300k miles on it before finally condemning. This was the biggest selling point for my '93.)
    Anyhow, the only problem my LX had/has is a bad switch for high beams. No biggie and the rear bumper plastic was broken in the driver's side corner. It's been my daily driver for over 10 years and it still keeps chugging along, looks be damned. It still gets great gas mileage and I've been able to resurrect the air conditioning. If I knew what I now know I'd have bought a handful of these used and been set for life. My current issue that's started this summer is the transmission is starting to stay stuck in 1st, or it'll drop from 2nd to 1st. Is this a shift solenoid or the F4A valve? I'm also curious about how much work it would be to swap the good motor with a body and interior in better shape and switching it to a manual transmission while the engine is out. Thanks for reading-glad I found this website for troubleshooting and guidance.
  2. denisond3

    denisond3 Moderator Staff Member

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    One common reason for sticking in first is that the Vehicle Speed Sensor has gone bad. Its at the lower backside of the trans, and without it working, the computer doesnt know the car is moving. I sort of doubt its a solenoid, as they are fairly reliable. But getting the VSS out can be a miserable chore. I did it with mine when the transmissions were out of the car on my workbench. The VSS has a small magnet inside, which gives off pulses as it turns. If the magnet fractures or gets jammed up - the car will stay in first - - or reverse. Those are the only gears you get without the trans control module signalling one or more solenoids to work. If the connector has come off the VSS, the computer wont be getting the alternating signal it needs.
    If you havent changed the trans fluid and filter, this might be a good time to do it. And try to extract the VSS while you are at it.
    The bad switch for the high beams might be part of the multifunction switch located right behind the steering wheel. They are hard to find, but turn up sometimes on ebay. There are several versions, for different years, for cars with options like cruise control, for wagons, etc.
  3. jrm000kc

    jrm000kc FEOA Member

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    Thanks for the reply. I changed the transmission fluid and filter less than 20,000 miles ago along with cleaning the pan and magnets. The VSS huh? If you say it's a miserable chore I can only imagine lol. Sometimes it shudders before shifting into OD so probably related problem. (The first 'shudder' problem turned out to be a cracked coil, which also explained why I'd get the piss knocked out of me from a static charge.) I'll have to look up where that VSS is located and figure out what I need to do. Thanks for your time!
  4. denisond3

    denisond3 Moderator Staff Member

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    Shuddering going into OverDrive or into Torque Converter Lockup is allegedly from one of the spool valves in the valve body that hangs up - for a fraction of a second. A couple of mine do that, usually at low rpm And light throttle opening, or if I move the throttle just as its about to shift. I should probably re-check the line pressure in those transmissions, as its been several years since I did so. Checking the line pressure involves installing a hose and pressure gauge into a threaded fitting on the front of the trans, and watching the pressures are you nudge the throttle. Its another thing laid out in the service manual, but not something to worry much about. There are 13 spool valves, in the four layers of the valve body.

    To find the VSS, lean over the back of the engine compartment, from the driver's side, and look about right below the brake master cylinder and near the fuel filter. Its top is made of plastic, its bottom is made of aluminum. It has the speedo cable coming straight up from it, and a connector plugged into it - to let the computer know how fast the car is going. The VSS can get corroded in, and wont come out by just being pulled. Some might, but most dont. If you get a look at a new VSS, you will see a tiny lip near the top of the aluminum part. Prying up on that with a cheap wood chisel was the method I used on mine.
  5. jrm000kc

    jrm000kc FEOA Member

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    I looked up where the VSS is located. Doesn't look too bad if I get the battery and tray out of the way first. The only problem I had ordering at the parts store was whether the sprocket was red or white-22 or 23 teeth. Don't know but the parts guy said it's more than likely the red one. Have to wait until tomorrow before it shows up.
  6. Joey_Twowagons

    Joey_Twowagons FEOA Member

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    Maybe the parts guy would be okay if you ordered both, and returned the one you didn't use? That way you wouldn't be out of luck if you have the old one out and the new one is wrong.
    zzyzzx and jrm000kc like this.
  7. denisond3

    denisond3 Moderator Staff Member

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    Its fairly easy to take the gear off the end of the VSS, and change it to the color that was in your car. I think it can be done with just your fingers. I put in the VSS with whatever color it came with, since the difference seems to be less than the normal speedo error with old speedometers.

    One day we got my 32 Chevy up to about 70 mph (as checked by a stop watch and the mile markers going by, but the old VDO OEM speedometer showed about 40 mph. We were probably close to the car's top speed, and on a slight downgrade. Then the old fabric fan belt snapped from the strain. Got it back parked in the driveway, and as I was walking into the house, the right front tire blewout. It still had the cotton cords!
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  8. jrm000kc

    jrm000kc FEOA Member

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  9. jrm000kc

    jrm000kc FEOA Member

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    Ah I see. Thanks for the heads up on just swapping the gear head. At least the tire didn't blow out while you were doing 70. Makes we wonder about cops handing out speeding tickets on older cars/bikes where there could be an error factor with the older speedometers.
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  10. jrm000kc

    jrm000kc FEOA Member

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    Battery out, battery try out. Electrical connector out, speedo cable removed. All going smoothly. Trying to pry out old VSS.....2 hours later it's still stuck. After 25 years I should have known that sucker would be frozen. I'm actually cutting into the bezel base with a pry bar because that sucker WILL NOT BUDGE. Probably one of those deals where after you step away for an hour it'll decide to come out on it's own schedule. I've soaked it with PB Blaster and the plastic top piece has broken off leaving just the metal base. Not sure what direction to attack this. Ideas anyone?
  11. Swift

    Swift FEOA Donator

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    I have always wondered if anyone ever had any luck with turning it?
  12. Joey_Twowagons

    Joey_Twowagons FEOA Member

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    I was able to remove mine by squeezing it with Vise-Grips (not too hard!), prying under the Vise-Grips with some kind of forgotten tools, while slightly applying twisting force back and forth on the Vise-Grips.

    After a lot of fiddling I did get it out with some damage, but in still usable condition. However I did this with the intake manifold off, so had easier access.
  13. zzyzzx

    zzyzzx FEOA Member

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  14. denisond3

    denisond3 Moderator Staff Member

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    The method that worked for me, with a VSS on a trans still in the car, was to remove the cat converter to give a little more room, to take a cheap wood chisel and knock the plastic handle off, to give me more room to swing a hammer, then to place the wood chisel horizontally with its tip between the tiny lip on the VSS and the top of the trans case where the VSS met it, and hammer the chisel -inward-. It made a tiny tiny gap, at which point I switched to a chisel whose blade was modified by making it a steeper slope and with the very sharp edge ground away. Hammering this let me raise the VSS another 1/4 mm or something. I was also dousing it with penetrating oil. Finally I was able to tap the VSS back down into the bore in the trans case, and wedge it up again with my chisel/hammer technique. Somewhere along here I was able to grab that lip with a new pair of channel lock pliers and rotate the VSS a little, pulling up (sort of gently) at the same time. I did this on 2 successive evenings, in mild and dry weather.
    After that I used emery paper to eliminate the corrosion, slathered it with antiseize compound, and put it back.
    With other members who have mashed away the plastic top, one of them ran a drill down into the VSS (maybe a 3/8 or slightly larger), and put in a suitable thread tap and got threads on the inside of what was left of the VSS. Then he threaded a bolt into the hole (cant recall the size, but was SAE not metric) and with visegrips on the bolt, could get the VSS out.

    I have wondered, how many of the Escorts that got scrapped years ago, just had a stuck & non-functional VSS. Also would prevent checking the fluid level in the 5-speeds; which might have put the car into the JY.
  15. jrm000kc

    jrm000kc FEOA Member

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    Sorry guys. I did get the VSS out. I pulled it up on ramps, got underneath and had just enough of a lip to get a hammer and chisel on it. It finally moved enough to get a bite underneath. Got it swapped-had to put the old gear on the new one as it had one more tooth. Forgot to plug in the sensor as I found out the next morning on the way to work! Anyway it shifts great now-quickly and without hesitation. Thanks for the input and support!
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  16. denisond3

    denisond3 Moderator Staff Member

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    Thanks for letting us know of your success, and another story of how to get the VSS out.

    If you had left the other gear on the new VSS, you might not have known the difference. With my Escorts, the speedos all seem to be off-calibration by several MPH, at some point in their reading range; probably just from the aging of magnetic driven speedometers. We get out accurate speed indication from a GPS readout.
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  17. jrm000kc

    jrm000kc FEOA Member

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    It's all good. It passed the real test yesterday-stop and go rush hour traffic with the transmission getting hot and passed with flying colors. (However, my original Motorcraft alternator bit the dust this weekend. Didn't have time to get it rebuilt so aftermarket it was.) It'd be nice to switch the good engine into a better body.

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