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1996 Ford Escort LX
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My mom owned this 1996 Escort LX and she is passed now. My goal is to get it so it can drive. Not every day. Just so it will drive again. It is super rusty and may not be possible to save. But i am not going to give up. I am making this thread in hopes that i will find people that will help me slowly fix every problem one by one since i know nothing about cars or how to fix them. There will be people who will tell me just to scrap it at this point. But the point is not to drive it everyday but just for it to be able to drive. I do not have the access to big fancy tools that other people do. If people find this then i will start with the first major issue. The key will not turn
 

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The key not turning could be a couple issues:

It could be the wrong key. Make sure the key works the doors and trunk, so it should hopefully be the right key.
It could be the steering wheel lock is engaged and you need to turn the steering wheel to unlock it
It could be the tumbler is damaged and just won't turn any more.
 

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1996 Ford Escort LX
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
ok so first thank you for replying. Second the key is slightly bent i have tried it in the doors and trunk and it didnt work. But in the owners manual it shows the key and the key i have is the same shape. I know that doesnt mean it is for sure the right key but its all i have to go off of. And the steering lock is on but the battery is bad so do i need a battery to disengage that? Thanks for the help ahead of time
 

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A charged battery is not needed to get the ignition switch to turn. Make sure you wiggle the key around a bit, and you may need to turn the steering wheel to take the sideways load off of the keylock before it will turn..
You might want to take the rear speakers out - so you can look in there and see if the strut towers have rusted though - and failed.
Fixing a car whose undercarriage is badly rusted in one of the most difficult repairs to make. No amount of good advice is going to make it an easy repair. You might want to pull up the carpet in the front wheel wells, and see if the floor is rusted out.
Alsl inspect the brake lines goig to th rear axle; especialyy where the meta linse run up beside the fuel tank. I have had to replace fuel lines that were so rusted they broke when I was removing them, to replace them with new meta lines, and the rusty location is only visible when you are underneath the car, looking straight up; you wont see the rust from looking under the bar from the wide.
Good Luck!
 

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1996 Ford Escort LX
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thank you that really helps. The back shock tower has a little bit of rust where the bushing thing is, i have not checked the other one though. Also, do you know of a jack point if the pinch weld is to rusty? The whole drivers side floor is bad, except for the actual drivers floor panel, and i have a idea for quick patch for that part for the future if that would be worth listening to feel free to tell me. And one more thing, its outside on the dirt so if there is anything i can do to keep it from getting any worse until i can make room for it in the garage that would be much appreciated. Thanks so much for your help.
 

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It wont get much worse sitting outside; as long as its not being driven; that is assuming the carpet doesnt get wet after a heavy rain - which you can simulate with a garden hose.
For a jack point, use a chunk of 2 by 4 under the rocker panel to distribute the weight, something about a foot wide would help a lot. If Im going to work under my car, I use a support made of chunks of heavy lumber, like pieces 4" by restor" or 6" by 6", cut off from such longer sizes of wood, and sliced off into pieces 18" to 2' long, then stacked up. I dont use steel jackstands because I have to work outside on dirt, and steel jackstands are too likely to sink unevenly. Pictures would be welcome, as its hard to visualize how much rust there is from a verbal description.
I have friends who have restored badly rusted Italian sportcars, like prewar Lancia Artenas and Ardeas, by stripping out the liquids, (i.e. battery, coolant, motor oil and differential oil), then tilting up the car onto one side, cushioned by mattresses and truck inner tubes, and spendind a winter slicing out rusted parts (Lancias are unibody vehicles) and welding in new metal. This can take six months of gas or MIG welding each evening.
If your car is that rusty, it would be easier to get an un-rusted project escort from someplace like Phoenix or Tucson Arizona and hauling it home on a trailer.
 

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1996 Ford Escort LX
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I went out and took some photos of some of the rust and stuff that is important.

the front shock towers (its raining so i didnt have time to get to the back ones since i just put the trunk plastic paneling back in)
Automotive tire Motor vehicle Gas Auto part Automotive wheel system

Automotive tire Motor vehicle Rim Automotive wheel system Gas
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Also in those images you can really see how close to the ground the car is. Recently i tried to jack it up to get the wheel of but to no surprise the lug nuts would not come off. Also the the part of the pinch weld i jacked it up on seemed stable but i just jacked it up enough to let some pressure of the wheel
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
This is the position the steering wheel locked in. Dont mind the dirty floor it was raining so my shoes brought some gunk in.
Automotive tire Motor vehicle Automotive lighting Bumper Steering part
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
And finally the key. I was hoping there was a way to tell if this could be the right key and the reason it doesnt work is because it is just bent but i think i have my hopes to high for that.
Outerwear Sleeve Gesture Grey Collar

Musical instrument Wood Mesh Font Gas
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
My plan is to get this in the garage and get a hydraulic jack and eventually replacing the the rusted subframe bits and while they are off really assessing the damage. Like i said i dont plan on using this everyday so if there are parts that are beyond fixing at my current level of capability then thats fine. I just want it to be able to run and drive. For the floor panels that are rusting out i plan on doing a somewhat janky fix, i would cut the rust and find an escort with the same panels cut those out so it will slightly overlap and then drill holes and bolt the panel in or maybe rivet it in and then use some sort of sealant. This is assuming i get this far.

also i have tried getting the key copied but its always to thick and just doesnt fit in at all and they never take the bend into account.
 

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First off, Im sorry that you lost your mother. Mine died young in 1975.
That much of a bend in the key isnt likely to keep the key from going into the ignition lock, it will simply straighten out. If its not the right key, it is entirely possible to replace the ignition switch and keylock; which comes with a new key, but it involves dropping the clamshell around the steering column, taking out the four bolts (12mm socket) and letting the column drop down into your lap, then getting the pesky anti-theft bolts unscrewed. My favorite method is to use a dremel moto tool with a cutoff wheel, to grind a slot across the funny head so I can put a screw driver into the slot - and unfasten the ignition keylock and drop it down from the column. You will of course need to undo the two connectors to the wiring harness. I have also gotten them loose by using a small cold chisel and hammering the edge of the bolt to make it rotate counterclockwise till you can turn them by hand: Or a locksmith can likely make you a new ignition key; though he would have to be standing/sitting in the car - if they still have a blank for a key that old. (I carry spare key blanks in my tool box in case the nearby hardware store doesnt have an Ilco H60, which is one of the OEM key blanks.
Any car that ha been sitting outside for a year or so will have sunk down into the soil. A little more at the front than the rear wheels.
To get the lug nuts unscrewed, you need to have the weight of the car on the wheel, and to use the original little lug wrench, with a couple of feet of pipe slid over it. The actual proper torque for the lug nuts is about equal to the weight of your foot pressing down on the end of the lug wrench. If they wanted you to make it more tight than that, they would have given you a long lug wrench. The spec lug nut torque is 88-115 ft-lbs.
You should get a copy of the Ford Escort/Tracer Service Manual for your car. They are on ebay fairly cheaply. There is also a companion manual called the Electrical and Vacuum Troubleshooting Manual, the EVTM. Be sure to get the one matching your year of car, since they do change from year to year (though the service manuals are very similar from year to year. The EVTM has all of the wiring diagrams for your car.
I took a welding class at the Tech Institute at National Airport, so I could do my own welding/brazing, but most of its use is to soften up rusty parts to about the color of a school bus, so you can get things apart - like any bolts in the exhaust system.
If your front and rear bumpers are in good shape - take very good car of them. you cant even kneel on them or they will crack. And right now, no-one is selling new ones on ebay. I figure there may be a dozen of new ones, sitting inside a container in the huge backlog at the harbor in Long Beach CA.
As for only fixing the car up enough so it is safe to drive it at all, that will means it has to be able to pass a safety inspection in your jurisdiction.. And the most important thing you have to fix are the brakes.
Keeep us posted!
 

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Sorry to hear about your Mom.

That control arm is enough to concern me.That arm keeps the rear axle from coming out the back when you brake.

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I use a breaker bar and 21mm socket to loosen the wheel nuts, and a torque wrench to tighten them. As Denisond intimated, leave the car unjacked until you get all the wheel nuts loosened.
I would put the key bland on a block of softwood and carefully smack it with a block of lead to straighten it. Maybe due to the bend it is not going in all the way.
If you were close to me I'd try my key - I have tried it in three or four friends' Escorts and it started all of them!
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Yeah, i intend to replace most of the stuff underneath suspension, subframes, etc. i think it would be pretty easy if i could get underneath with a dremel or something.
 
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