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Common Problems

97716 Views 90 Replies 41 Participants Last post by  Jaaybar
Common problem Specific to 2nd gen LX's.
(all prices are parts only)

Ignition switch.
-Problem: Some accessories dont get power or starter wont respond but battery power is fine. (91-95 only)
-Fix: New $40 switch at local part store. Easy install. Dont need to remove lock cylender.

Motorized seat belt.
-Problem: Seat belt is stuck half way in the track. Cable binds in the track.
-Fix: Free. Chances are good, if you replace it, that one will go bad to. But, you can manually lock the seat belt all the way back and use it as a normal non-motorized seat belt and still be safe.
There is small round plastic cover snapped in the B pillar right next to the seat, remove it. You will see a single wire plug, disconnect it and leave it unplugged. Next if you look in that access hole, you will see the shaft of the motor. If you can find a tool bit to fit the shaft, you can manually spin the motor till the seat belt is all the way in the locked postion. You may have to convince the seat belt some to get it un-jammed.
*Do at your own Risk.

Rear Suspension (Broken Rear springs)
-Problem: Rear end sitting low.
-Fix: Quick strut set ~$300 local parts store. No special tools required, no alignment needed. Quick strut set replaces the entire strut/spring assembly.
-Can also be from the top of the strut tower tearing from excessive rust, but not nearly as common as broken springs.

Outer tie rod end.
-Problem: clunking sound heard and felt in steering wheel.
-Fix: $15-30 per side. Can be installed at home, but requires alignment.

Timing belt and/or water pump idler pulley.
-Problem: Engine spins over (quicker then normal from no compression) but wont start.
-Fix: $15-100 depending on quality of parts and if water pump is replaced.

Valve seat Drop.
-Problem: Engine sounds like it's trying to eat a bucket of nut's and bolts. Spark plug (one or more) normally has the tip chewed up. Bad or no compression.
-Fix: New or reman head, or whole new engine depending on damage. Problem is very hit and miss with 2nd gens. Some might have it happen twice to them while others will never have a problem. A used good running engine should cost $100-300.

Hydraulic Lifter.
-Problem: TICK TICK TICK TICK TICK... One or more Lifter is squishy and wont hold oil pressure.
-Fix: Remove the rockers and push down the top of the lifter, if it's soft then it needs to be replaced. You can try taking it apart and cleaning the check ball valve, but chances are if it's been ticking for awhile, it will be too worn out to hold oil pressure. They can cost as much as $25 each.

Hot glowing red catalytic converter & loss of power.
-Problem: Ignition or cam timing is off, causing power loss and high Exhaust Gas Temps.
-Fix: New Crank Pulley. The rubber ring insulating the pulley from the crank sensor trigger ring has failed, letting the trigger wheel slip.
-Can also be from a damaged crankshaft & harmonic balancer keyway hole.
-Or can also be the same with a timing belt that has jumped a tooth.
-Fix: Needs new timing belt.

Poor heat & Engine cant warm up.
-Problem: Over cooling. Heater does not blow hot, and engine temp gauge hardly makes it past cold.
-Fix: Either the the thermostat has failed, or the bypass built into the thermostat housing has opened up. This is normally over looked and missed by the average back yard mechanic. Thermostat housing need's to be replaced.
http://www.feoa.net/modules.php?name=Fo ... highlight=
Warning: Thermostat housing bolts like to break off.

Heater & A/C Blower.
-Does'nt work at all = Plug on the bottom of the blower box (right above the passangers feet) is corroded from moisture, then melted from over heating from the poor electrical connection.
-Only works on high setting = Blower motor resistor.

Poor idle.
-Problem: PCV tube elbow dry rots or cracks open, causing the car to stall.
-Fix: Replace with OEM elbow, or similar sized elbow from the "HELP" section of your local auto store.

Battery Dummy light.
-Problem: The red Battery light on the dash is on when running.
-Fix: Can be 2 main problems, either the alternator has failed OR the small single wire that plugs into the top of the alternator has a poor connection.

Speedometer Bounce.
-Problem: Speedometer needle jumps up and down at highway speeds. Very common in 96.
-Fix: Speedometer cable is binding up, replace or lube. Swapping in the older 80mph speedometer seems to fix it also.

E-Brake.
-Problem: It's either stuck on or stuck off.
-Fix: You need to remove the drum and find the lever that the cable is hooked on. It has a pivot point that loves to seize up if not used regularly.
Soak it in penetrating oil and work it loose. May need to clamp it in a vise and hit it with a hammer to break it free.
http://www.feoa.net/modules.php?name=Fo ... 262#637262
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Automatic Transmissions:
Vehicle Speed Sensor, Transmission Range Sensor, Neutral Position Sensor, Shift Solenoids, "Limp Mode."
http://www.feoa.net/threads/94-tracer-trans-problem.83165/#post-737492
Also: Cooling fan does not turn on due to PCM or relay failure.
Is it an easy fix? I have this problem. chased a few relay without any luck.
Hi Ramon. Post a new thread.
Here's the link...
http://www.feoa.net/forums/2nd-gen-1991-1996-1-9l-sohc.34/create-thread
Common problem Specific to 2nd gen LX's.
(all prices are parts onl I am hoping the machine shop can or will press another valve seat in to the head!! The cost ?? yeah, this little car was a sweet investment, had to let this go with out a fight! thw piston has a few pits in it, but i can fix that, true the car was running great, uh i had let the battery run down a bit an d wen i had it jumped it started up just a clattering, well before that i almost starteeddit and it done an abrupt stop, this ight have been where the seat was on its way out!!! whoa ,,
my ignition switch there for a while the car wud start but had to put it in neutral , the tech said the neutral safety switch might have been bad, here it was the starter!! i hit it with a hammer to start it the contacts wre messed up.

Ignition switch.
-Problem: Some accessories dont get power or starter wont respond but battery power is fine. (91-95 only)
-Fix: New $40 switch at local part store. Easy install. Dont need to remove lock cylender.

Motorized seat belt.
-Problem: Seat belt is stuck half way in the track. Cable binds in the track.
-Fix: Free. Chances are good, if you replace it, that one will go bad to. But, you can manually lock the seat belt all the way back and use it as a normal non-motorized seat belt and still be safe.
There is small round plastic cover snapped in the B pillar right next to the seat, remove it. You will see a single wire plug, disconnect it and leave it unplugged. Next if you look in that access hole, you will see the shaft of the motor. If you can find a tool bit to fit the shaft, you can manually spin the motor till the seat belt is all the way in the locked postion. You may have to convince the seat belt some to get it un-jammed.
*Do at your own Risk.

Rear Suspension (Broken Rear springs)
-Problem: Rear end sitting low.
-Fix: Quick strut set ~$300 local parts store. No special tools required, no alignment needed. Quick strut set replaces the entire strut/spring assembly.
-Can also be from the top of the strut tower tearing from excessive rust, but not nearly as common as broken springs.

Outer tie rod end.
-Problem: clunking sound heard and felt in steering wheel.
-Fix: $15-30 per side. Can be installed at home, but requires alignment.

Timing belt and/or water pump idler pulley.
-Problem: Engine spins over (quicker then normal from no compression) but wont start.
-Fix: $15-100 depending on quality of parts and if water pump is replaced.

Valve seat Drop.
-Problem: Engine sounds like it's trying to eat a bucket of nut's and bolts. Spark plug (one or more) normally has the tip chewed up. Bad or no compression.
-Fix: New or reman head, or whole new engine depending on damage. Problem is very hit and miss with 2nd gens. Some might have it happen twice to them while others will never have a problem. A used good running engine should cost $100-300.

Hydraulic Lifter.
-Problem: TICK TICK TICK TICK TICK... One or more Lifter is squishy and wont hold oil pressure.
-Fix: Remove the rockers and push down the top of the lifter, if it's soft then it needs to be replaced. You can try taking it apart and cleaning the check ball valve, but chances are if it's been ticking for awhile, it will be too worn out to hold oil pressure. They can cost as much as $25 each.

Hot glowing red catalytic converter & loss of power.
-Problem: Ignition or cam timing is off, causing power loss and high Exhaust Gas Temps.
-Fix: New Crank Pulley. The rubber ring insulating the pulley from the crank sensor trigger ring has failed, letting the trigger wheel slip.
-Can also be from a damaged crankshaft & harmonic balancer keyway hole.
-Or can also be the same with a timing belt that has jumped a tooth.
-Fix: Needs new timing belt.

Poor heat & Engine cant warm up.
-Problem: Over cooling. Heater does not blow hot, and engine temp gauge hardly makes it past cold.
-Fix: Either the the thermostat has failed, or the bypass built into the thermostat housing has opened up. This is normally over looked and missed by the average back yard mechanic. Thermostat housing need's to be replaced.
http://www.feoa.net/modules.php?name=Fo ... highlight=
Warning: Thermostat housing bolts like to break off.

Heater & A/C Blower.
-Does'nt work at all = Plug on the bottom of the blower box (right above the passangers feet) is corroded from moisture, then melted from over heating from the poor electrical connection.
-Only works on high setting = Blower motor resistor.

Poor idle.
-Problem: PCV tube elbow dry rots or cracks open, causing the car to stall.
-Fix: Replace with OEM elbow, or similar sized elbow from the "HELP" section of your local auto store.

Battery Dummy light.
-Problem: The red Battery light on the dash is on when running.
-Fix: Can be 2 main problems, either the alternator has failed OR the small single wire that plugs into the top of the alternator has a poor connection.

Speedometer Bounce.
-Problem: Speedometer needle jumps up and down at highway speeds. Very common in 96.
-Fix: Speedometer cable is binding up, replace or lube. Swapping in the older 80mph speedometer seems to fix it also.

E-Brake.
-Problem: It's either stuck on or stuck off.
-Fix: You need to remove the drum and find the lever that the cable is hooked on. It has a pivot point that loves to seize up if not used regularly.
Soak it in penetrating oil and work it loose. May need to clamp it in a vise and hit it with a hammer to break it free.
http://www.feoa.net/modules.php?name=Fo ... 262#637262
Add the PCV elbow to the list. This thread is complete with pics:
http://www.feoa.net/modules.php?name=Fo ... ic&t=26196
I have had this problem in the past. I simply went to Home depot with the hose and found a copper elbow in the plumbing section that would fit in the hose. I suppose you could just bend a piece of tubing and attach hose clamps too.
fuel pumps loose pressure causing power loss at turns or WOT and causing surging problems at highway speeds. replace it with a bosch fuel pump only. fel-pros loose pressure very early.
dont forget to check those plasstic clips that hold the pulse dampener to the fuel pump... happened on mine and wouldnt start unless it was over a half tank... 2 inches of fuel line and two clamps fixed that little problem...
Not that I know of. Escorts seem to be about the same as my other cars.
Another thing that can affect braking pedal 'feel' is if one or more brake hoses are swelled up inside, partically blocking the fluid flow. Its why I replace the brake hoses on my cars (not just Escorts) when they get to about 20 years old. The hardest part of the job is typically getting the hoses unbolted from the flare nuts at the end of the brake line. Lots of penetrating oil and patience is my method.
Is it common to have squishy breaks?
Yes. The Mazda brakes used from 1991 - 1996 suck when compared to Ford brakes used before and I think after. At least that's what I think you are noticing.
Yes. The Mazda brakes used from 1991 - 1996 suck when compared to Ford brakes used before and I think after. At least that's what I think you are noticing.
I think all 91+ models had the Mazda brakes.
What Brake system would you convert to? I am wanting to completely redo the system, just so that I do not have a pin hole leak that I will never find.
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It's a combination of worn-key** and worn-switch. Search the forum using those phrasings. No shortage of information. NUTSHELL: Replacing the ignition switch will resolve it but you'll also want see about having your local locksmith make a new key from an unused backup. (not your local hardware store who may or may not make a precise copy) Continued use will eventually result with key turning and extraction problems.*** For some people, simply replacing the key may resolved the chime issue. Some people just cut the white (chime) wire running off of the ignition, others say that replacing the switch isn't hard. (hardest part removing the tamper-resistant fasteners) Be sure to press firmly inward, anytime the key is being turned to crank or extract.

** (your ignition cylinder shouldn't allow key extraction before OFF, shouldn't protrude or sick-out in OFF position - stresses the switch)

*** (people used to regularly recommend that the ignition lock cylinder be replaced for these issues - it's more likely just the key)
If I don't turn mine all the way off. I can start the car with a screw driver. I think its nice being able to remove the key with it running. Lock the doors and it looks like its been started my remote.
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So, after checking all basic stuff, finally got the car to the local Ford dealer. Car was vibrating bad all of a sudden when pulled upto a stop light. Basically lost all power and felt like it dropped a cylinder. They just called and found zero compression in cyl# 4. Wanted to try to talk me into a used engine with 150k with 30 day parts only waranty to replace the 65k engine. So hope I did the right thing. Since it's the original timing belt, had them start pulling it apart to check that. Maybe will get lucky but doesn't sound like it from what everyone is saying on here. So sounds like it dropped the valve seat. Big question now, anyone know where to get a good rebuilt for a reasonable amount of $?
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I got a JY engine that was still 'good', and got a rebuilt head (having new inlet valve seat inserts), and spent about $700, plus 3 weeks of my time (cause Im a slow worker and this is a hobby with me). Also I had my other Escort for driving meanwhile.
The problem with any JY engine is that the guarantee doesnt do anything for me. They say it is guaranteed for 90 days or whatever. But its so much trouble to take it out again, and get a different JY engine - that I prefer just rebuilding them myself.
The important thing, if removing the head reveals a dropped inlet valve seat, is to get the pistons out for examination, and the intake manifold to where you can spray it heavily with a degreaser, then to flush it out with a garden hose and nozzle. And this needs to be done with the intake manifold off the head.
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I got a JY engine that was still 'good', and got a rebuilt head (having new inlet valve seat inserts), and spent about $700, plus 3 weeks of my time (cause Im a slow worker and this is a hobby with me). Also I had my other Escort for driving meanwhile.
The problem with any JY engine is that the guarantee doesnt do anything for me. They say it is guaranteed for 90 days or whatever. But its so much trouble to take it out again, and get a different JY engine - that I prefer just rebuilding them myself.
The important thing, if removing the head reveals a dropped inlet valve seat, is to get the pistons out for examination, and the intake manifold to where you can spray it heavily with a degreaser, then to flush it out with a garden hose and nozzle. And this needs to be done with the intake manifold off the head.
Yeah, they bore scoped it, it's the #4 intake vale seat. And so far no scoring on the cyl wall or piston.
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If that valve seat broke up, I dont see how the pieces could fit into the combustion chamber without gouging the top of the piston - and damaging it. With the two I fixed up (after the valve seat had broken up on the prior owner, the cylinder walls were fine, no scratches at all - but the pistons were unuseable. I wasnt able to tell that till I held them in my hands though. I was able to see pockmarks on the piston tops while they were still in the cylinder.
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I had the same problem, trust me on this:
Leave the door open so you can hear the chime

Get a can of WD-40. Spray down the metal part of your key. Now put the straw on the can. Spray into the ignition switch.

Now push the key in and pull it out a few times. Now put it in, and turn it to the ON and back to off a few times. Pull it out. Is the chime gone? If not, keep going:

Clean up extra WD-40 with a rag. Then spray some more inside and repeat above.

Eventually you'll loosen up all the crap in there and little switch inside the ignition that tells the car when the key is in it will return to its correct position.

Plus its good to see all the dirty wd-40 come out of the keyhole. Makes you realize that you have somewhere between 15 and 19 years of dirt in there.
Great suggestion. This was my problem just this past weekend. But a few shots of lubricant freed up the mechanism enough that it would go into the LOCK position and quit that annoying chime. Thanks again.
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Common problems I always see... not mentioned yet.

1) Knocking noise from front brakes. A ridge has formed on the caliper slide pins. Replace and lube.

2) Intermittently the AC stops working. Bad relays cause this. They are two of them located back of passenger side engine compartment. To diagnose, when the AC is turned on and not working, tap on these relays. It will work again but fail after awhile. Just replace them both if tapping them temporary fixes it.

3) First hot day of the season often an old harmonic balancer will fail and come apart. The extra load of the first use of the ac for the season kills an old balancer already weak with age. I replace the balancer automatically when replacing timing belts.

4) Already mentioned, two relays that control the cooling fan go bad, replace them. What was not mentioned is often these relays are damaged by excessive draw from a bad cooling fan motor.
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Engine stalls, misses, making pinging sounds etc when running between 55 and 65 mph when you attempt minor acceleration:
Problem: O2 sensor failing causing the PCM to lean out fuel injection.
( may or may not throw a check engine light )
OR MAF sensor is dirty causing the PCM to lean out fuel injection
FIX: replace the O2 sensor
check and clean the MAF
Could this be the same if it dose the same thing from 25-30?
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