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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi All,

New here.

I have a 1997 Escort that has 230k on the odometer but this is the third engine the car has seen.

This engine is from my original ‘97 Escort that was totaled and it has 30k on the odometer.

So far this engine has had a valve on cylinder 3 drop a seat, got that fixed.

The car died one day on my way to work and it was shaking and dropping power before the engine completely cut out.

So over the last two years I’ve been trying to get it up and running because it’s gas mileage was way better than my trucks and honestly it is a stout little machine.

I changed the timing belt and everything in that department. Just reset it as the Crank was 15 degrees of TDC.

I changed both O2 sensors, EGR, MAF, Catalytic Converter, EGR Valve, PCV, switched the coil to an MSD. Pretty much at this point it’s almost a new car haha. (I used to work at O’Reilly so had a discount)

It idles fine at 900-1k RPM But when I add power there is a weird whomp, woofing sound like it’s sucking way more air.

Also it struggles to stay running when I engage a gear.

I haven’t had a chance to put it on the road and get it out for a test drive so I’m not sure if it is the computer adjusting to all the new sensors or what.

Any input would be great appreciated.
 

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Could be about a million and one things, I would suggest getting a scan tool that can read live data, gather data from that to determine what the problem is before you throw more parts at it.

Cars as old as these are pretty much guaranteed to have a vacuum leak, but that doesn't mean it's the only problem or even the problem, though it is certainly possible. If your fuel trims are high at idle, but reduce closer to 0% as you increase RPMs (you might have to rev the engine slowly if it's a bad enough vac leak if you can even get it to rev, but if it's that bad you should hear it whistling/sucking anyway) this would be evident of a vacuum leak.


Also, even though I suggest diagnosing the problem based off of fuel trims I'll throw out a guess anyway. The way you describe the sound it could be as something as silly as something blocking your intake or even a torn air filter (or torn intake tubing).
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the response. I replaced the whole vacuum system. I do have a scan tool so I’ll check the live data. I’m starting to get a gut feeling it might be a blown head gasket. Had water coming out the tail pipe with an odor to it. I was thinking that could be due to old gas and the new Catalytic converter.

I’ll run it and watch the overflow reservoir. Worst case dump the oil and see.

I would just hate to see a 30k mile engine be toast.

I’ll let you know what I find.

-Ryan
 

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Thanks for the response. I replaced the whole vacuum system. I do have a scan tool so I’ll check the live data. I’m starting to get a gut feeling it might be a blown head gasket. Had water coming out the tail pipe with an odor to it. I was thinking that could be due to old gas and the new Catalytic converter.

I’ll run it and watch the overflow reservoir. Worst case dump the oil and see.

I would just hate to see a 30k mile engine be toast.

I’ll let you know what I find.

-Ryan
There's a pretty reliable "shadetree" method of checking for a blown head gasket, get a small sample of oil from your pan and throw it on a really hot surface, if it "sizzles" there is water in the oil and would be indicative of a blown head gasket, if it just smokes you're good. Otherwise the combustion gas testers with the blue liquid that turns yellow in the presence of combustion gasses are pretty reliable as well and aren't very expensive.

Perhaps someone can answer if there are any coolant channels in the intake of an SPI?
 

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I am suspicious of crap aftermarket parts.

Can you post a video so we can hear the noise?
 

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I'd reinstall the original ignition system (removing the MSD) and give it another test run. Sounds like your timing was changed. The OEM ignition was reliable, you just needed to use the low-resistance Motorcraft wires with it; and don't replace those wires unless they're physically damaged. (which should never occur as long as no one removes them from a hot engine) The old wisdom of "replace your spark plug wires every xx,xxx miles" created a lot of headaches with these cars.

With these engines, it is only the coolant passages that get breached from a head-crack or gasket leak. The oil passages are never compromised. Use a "block test kit" with your coolant. The coolant may also discolor a bit.

@zzyzzx is right about aftermarket parts. Because I'm hard-headed it took awhile, but eventually learned not to replace parts unless they actually tested bad. Aftermarket routinely lasted just a fraction of the time that OEM parts did. Only exception might be an actual technological upgrade, such as polyurethane bushings.
 

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Ditto on the high tension leads aka spark plug wires.
Originals seem to last a very very long time. One of mine pulled apart (probably from taking it off a hot engine) so I replaced it with another original from a spare engine.

I recently had ignition failure on a twenty year old Honda, I checked all the wires (still attached to the distributor cap) and they had proper resistance. Of course this doesn't check for failed insulation.
 
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