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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone 👋. My name's Isaac. I'm a new Escort owner in Minneapolis, MN.

I just purchased a 1995 Escort Wagon LX (1.9L automatic). I purchased this as a way for me to learn how to do vehicle maintenance. This will be my first ever project car, and I'm very excited to start wrenching! I've been wanting to learn for years, but never had the means or opportunity until now.

The car is in just OK shape. Some body rust, a good amount of dents and scratches to the body, and the interior is really grungy, but I got it for cheap, and I don't need it to look perfect anyway. My main goal is to get it to being roadworthy again. The car technically does run, but when it does, coolant leaks out of the radiator cap, and shoots out of overflow hole on the coolant fill reservoir. (Some online searching tells me that the problem is likely a faulty radiator cap, so I've got one on order as a first attempt to resolve it.) The car sat in a garage for a few years, and besides starting it for 10 seconds or so to demonstrate the coolant issue, I haven't run it, so it's hard to know what shape it's truly in. I'll find out soon enough though!

Here's my plan so far of what I'd like to do:
  • Replace radiator cap
  • Flush all the fluids (gas tank, coolant, oil, etc.)
  • Replace engine belts
  • Replace spark plugs, and possibly spark plug wires
  • Deep clean the interior (it is very grungy, and reeks of old cigarette smoke)
  • Replace brake components
  • Potentially replace some suspension components (not sure what would need to be done here, if anything)
This is almost certainly more than it will need to be roadworthy again, but since my goal is learning, I'd like to do some of these common maintenance types of things, and get it in as good a shape as I can without any costly repairs.

I'd love any advice on things I might consider addressing on the vehicle from folks in the know!

Automotive parking light Car Automotive side marker light Land vehicle Wheel

On the U-Haul trailer, about to be hauled to my home.

Automotive parking light Car Wheel Automotive side marker light Tire

Looks a lot better after a good wash.

Vehicle Car Automotive tire Hood Automotive lighting


The engine bay, post-degreasing.
 

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Congratulations on your choice of a project car. I own and use five 2nd generation LX escorts, and enjoy their reliability and economy, and the large degree of commonality under the hood from year to year. I have a 91, 92, 93, two 94's and a 95.

First I would recommend you check the coolant coming out of the radiator – by making sure the radiator has coolant up into that angled filler neck. Then with the radiator cap removed, start the car, With a cold engine, the coolant must not squirt out in a thick stream. Yes it will eventually come out, due to the engine warming up, but you will have at least a minute where it just dribbles out. If it flows out immediatly and in a thick stream, its almost a sure thing that you have a bad head gasket. And that usually originates with an overheating event that allows the head to warp – and let the headgasket leak. If not, if may be just that your cooling system needs some cleaning, and maybe a replacement thermostat.

Its fairly common for the escort radiators to leak after a few years, from the plastic end caps. Luckily a new radiator is fairly inexpensive ; and I replace the radiator hoses when I replace a radiator.

Aslo the original radiator fan my work or may not. It should run briefly when you first turn on the ignition – for maybe a second or a few seconds. This happens since the fan is wired so that the relays have 12 volts on them as soon as the ignition is on. Then the PCM runs through its Power-On-Selt-Test. And finding the coolant is cool, turns off the fan. The replacement radiator fans are also not too expensive now.

For each of my escorts I have bought the Ford Escort Mercury Tracer service manuals. I find them on ebay, and they are fairly cheap. There is a companion manual called the Electrical

and Vacuum troubleshooting manual, the EVTM. Neither the service manual nor the EVTM mentions that it is one of a 2 book set. The EVTMs have all the wiring diagrams in them along with drawing showing where electrical components are; and be sure to get the one for your year of escort. They do change from year to year.

If you dont know how old the timing belt is, I would recommend you reaplace it and its tensioner. They can last 100k miles, but I like to change mine about 70k; like right before we start driving across the USA. The engine is NOT an interference type, so if you are driving and the timing belt snaps, it does no damage to the head, (unlike most hondas), but does leave you at the side of the road.



I have found its getting harder to find the 14” wheels on the escort for sale; When we got a flat in Birmingham AL, we had to go to a used tire store to get a replacement. A new tire place didnt have any tire in stock less than 15”!

Dose yours have the automatic transmission, the F4EAT? I have rebuilt them myself, after buying the car with the trans worn out to where it wouldnt move the car anymore. It is not a difficult trans to rebuild, I have done it six times on my own cars and a friend's car. (Some members talk about swapping a manual transmission but I find that to hard to do; and it doesnt guarantee a solution to manual trans problems. It is NOT a simple plug and play change. Instead after liking my first escort so wll, I bought one with the 5-speed tranmission, and fixed that up. We still have it after 13 years about about 90,000 miles.



Something I do each summer, is to let the engine get fully warm, then let it sit in my driveway with the engine running – until the fan starts up. I do this to know the fan is doing its job, and to see how far to the right side the temp needle points too. (this is for peace of mind when driving in slow traffic in metropolitan areas, or when sitting for an hour or two on the international bridges coming back into the USA from Mexico



This will give you a little info to start on your project. I could add more info, but will wait till you have questions about the car. (If the car spent much time in areas where rust is a problem, please check the brake lines to the rear of the car. The worst spot seems to be where the brake lines run up beside the fuel tank, and cant be seen when looking from beside the car. You really need to be underneath the car looking straight up. I have replaced those lines on two of my escorts, and whille it took me a few days to do it (I have arthritis), the parts are cheap and easy to get.



I own a cantilever hoist, which I use to take the engine an transmission out still bolted together; this is easier on my back. I also have an oxy-acetylene torch set, which can be invaluable when dea.iling with rusted bolts. I do all of my work outside, under shade trees at the edge of the driveway.



Do they have emissions testing where you live? And how many miles are on the car?



I think you will need to use dish detergent to get the tar from the cigarette smoking off the inside of the windshield.





P.S. There is a special switch mounted on the top of the automatic transmissions, callled the “neutral safety switch”. Its essential, but is not hermetically sealed, so I dont use any liquid engine cleaner or degreaser on that side of the engine bay. I dont see that switch for sale amymore, and it cost about $200 when one would show up on ebay. It kee[s the starter from working unless the shifter Is in neutral or park, turns on the back-up lights in reverse, and let the trans control module know if you want to use just Drive or Overdrive. In the suburbs I keep it in Drive, to limit wear on the 3-4 clutch pack, as that is one of the clutch packs that wears out first.

.,

Good Luck
 

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I have friends in Mnneapolis, who park their hobby cars in the garage for the six months of winter!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
@denisond3 Thank you so much for all the detailed information! I'm going to take my time going through it all, and it will definitely prove useful.

And yes, hobby car season is sadly only 6–7 months long up here in Minnesota. 😞 Maybe someday I'll be able to get a heated garage. That'd be a dream come true!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
[mention]denisond3 [/mention] Where do you generally get parts for your Escorts? Do you have a preferred online or brick and mortar vendor? Or do you go to a junkyard or something else?
 

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Its a combination of good auto parts stores, of online sources like rockauto(dot)com or ebay, and doing google searches: .; there are a few ebay sellers that handle OEM parts that Ford dealerships have sold off, or who are "dismantlers" of cars. NAPA franchises can be useful, but dont let them just stare at their computer screens. As of a few years back, the NAPA franchises were expected to keep on-hand hard copies of the NAPA listings, which had older and rarer parts, beyond what showed up on the computer based listings. Not all NAPA places did keep them, and most of them would not bother to pull up the hard copy books to leaf through them unless you requested it.
And of course the rare junkyard that might have a 2nd gen escort on hand, till it was time to send it to the crusher. I used to have decent luck dealing with a "pick-n-pull" yard in Rosemount.

For some scarce parts, I would find an ebay seller selling similar items, such as a transmissions or rear trailing arms for other cars, and send them an 'ebay e-mail', asking if they had what I needed.
 
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