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... what is your estimate of the life expectancy of freeze plugs?
James - the life expectancy of a core plug is all over the map. It has much more to do with the prior maintenance of the cooling system contents, rather than miles traveled or years on the planet. If there has been a healthy mixture of coolant & water against their backsides, they can last almost forever. If someone has been running virtually straight water, expect them to be rusting. When a head is off (or an engine is out), I am always a fan of replacing them at that time. It would have been an excellent thing to do when you had the JY motor out of the car. Now, not so much. They corrode from the side you can't see. The symptoms of failure range from slow seepage [in most cases], to fairly sudden significant leaking [rare].

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Wagon hatch wiring harnesses are a continuing saga on this board, due to their penchant for failure in the short run between body and hatch, where they have articulated a bazillion times over the years. I realize that people have different talents and hold varying opinions. Here again is my take on repairing that harness.

They can and have been repaired in a very professional manner [by me] WITHOUT removing the harness from the car.

If one insists on removing something from the car in order to get a longer run of harness to work with, I whole-heartedly recommend removing the BODY run, while leaving alone all the connections buried down inside the hatch. Below is a photo that illustrates my point.

But first, a quick explanation about the picture.

This is a photo I posted here earlier this year (I believe in the main "what did you do to your 2nd gen today" thread, not the wagon one of the same name). A few days before my daughter's good friend was flying into town to be shown all the local sights, I blew out the back window in her wagon by backing into it with the RV. The glass company wanted $800+ for a new rear window, so I simply took an entire spare hatch and painted it to match her car. As is often the case, masking took much of the time, but it wasn't really a big deal for me. As part of the project (and here is where the payoff is), it was necessary to unplug the hatch harness. I chose to unplug the BODY run, and if you look closely at the photo, you can see why.

If someone needed to repair this harness, and wanted a longer run to work with, why wouldn't you just do it this way? One plug and done.
Vehicle Car Motor vehicle Hood Automotive lighting
 

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Gen2Steve: The reason I took the harness loose from inside the hatch, was to fix a melted wire end where it connects to the 12volt side of the defroster.
Got it. Clearly, there was a need in your case.

I continue to [pick one: notice/be amazed by/feel sorry for] the repeated appearance of the hatch wiring harness issue on this board, and the repair heartaches it causes for others. For me, it is a simple fix. But then, I am apparently just a dick.
 

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...Another chore I had to do to the wagon at the same time, was to replace the four rusted screws holding the license light lenses on to the license lamp sockets...
Although I enjoy ocean breezes, I am not close enough to get the salt air (and of course, no salt on the roads in the winter). Nevertheless, your story was a trigger to go and have a look at those screws on the fleet. The red wagon and blue 5 door are off at work & school, respectively. However, I did look at white wagons #2, #3, and #5. On those three cars, I was able to get all 12 screws out, cleaned the heads and put a dab of white grease on the threads of each one before re-installing them. Found out that white s/w #2 had one bad bulb, which I replaced.

Thanks for the anecdote and reminder.
 

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I repair this problem with the unusual approach of buying new parts.
Call me crazy, call me flush, but call me tired of getting my head bonked by a falling tailgate.

Although hatchback struts are side-specific, wagons use the same part for both sides.

I have had good luck with car parts sourced off of Amazon, and tailgate support struts are just one example. I don't recall if this exact supplier was who I used, but here is an example of a pair for $25 with free non-Prime shipping:

https://www.amazon.com/Mercury-1993-1997-Tailgate-Lift-Supports/dp/B00SVGANAM/ref=sr_1_1?s=automotive&ie=UTF8&qid=1512755808&vehicle=1995-54-660-113--1-8-5-3457--1-1-1069--3-0&sr=1-1&ymm=1995:ford:escort&keywords=tailgate strut
 

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Anyone got any idea where this could be coming from??? Thanks in advance.
You describe it as "oil", but first let me rule out dirty, NON-oily substances mistaken for oil, and then address "oil".

Dirty, discolored water from a cowl leak? (probably not, but I had to give it lip service).

Rusty, yucky coolant from a leaking heater core (again, unlikely but needs to be mentioned).

Older, discolored brake fluid leaking from the back of the master cylinder (that much volume, and you probably would have noticed the reservoir level dropping precipitously independent of dirty carpet).

Here is my REAL guess for something that appears to be oil:

It is ATF, coming from the back of the speedo head. Why would the speedo head be leaking ATF??? Because the VSS seal is blown, and it is being drawn up the speedo cable housing.
 

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The speedo has been working fine ever since, but if I didn't get the cable seated back in just right, could that be causing this 'oil' issue?
If you are smelling coolant inside the vehicle, an insidious [yet not uncommon for a 25 year old car] leak from the heater core should seriously be considered, in preference to the unusual "ATF wicking up the speedo cable" explanation. I only suggested ATF as a possible source because of your original use of the term OILY. As has already been said, replacing the heater core is a time-consuming task of steps that are not individually all that hard. It DOES involve removing the entire dash frame assembly.

As for ATF dripping out of the back of the cluster... that failure has nothing to do with how tightly or correctly the top end of the cable housing has been inserted into the cluster. ATF should not be there in the first place. If ATF dripping from the back of the cluster does in fact turn out to be the source of your dirty carpet, the failure is in the VSS. This is the point where the bottom end of the cable housing connects to the transaxle. If the VSS has a bad seal, ATF can "wick" or otherwise be drawn up the housing by the spinning spiral of the cable itself.
 

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I'm no Jed Clampet...

...NAPA wants $45 for theirs. RockAuto only wants $21. Is there really that much of a difference to make it worth that price?
The no-name one from RockAuto is probably okay. Nevertheless, you will have a fair amount of time into the job and would pretty disappointed to install a defective part. For some peace of mind, $28 will buy from RockAuto the exact same Spectra brand one that Napa is selling. If he were still alive, Jethro would probably approve of that compromise.
 

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And to restate what has already been posted on the subject...

It seems very likely that you need a heater core, and replacing it at this point twenty three years into its life would not be premature, even if only as preventative maintenance. In the process of doing the job, you will have ample opportunity to inspect at close quarters the rear of the speedometer for dripping ATF.
 

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.What's the most miles anybody has gotten in there Escorts 1.9 or 1.8
Of course the answer here is a combination of the fuel economy achieved and the pucker factor of how far you are willing to drive through (pick one: west Texas/Mojave desert/the 105 corridor through Watts) on fumes.

It took the passage of time and the passing of my father to really take to heart his long-time advice that you should fill up when the needle goes below half a tank. I will admit to pushing it into the low 300's a time or two, though. That being said, I have not run any of my wagons out of gas.

Alas, the same cannot be said for a certain blue car, which has been at the side of the freeway and at the side of Willow Springs race track, embarrassingly waiting to be rescued with a can of dino juice.
 

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...since I don't use a timing belt cover I was able to see that the camshaft seal behind the sprocket had come out about halfway...
...I'm guessing the seal had dried out and shrunk a little with age, so was a little loose in its housing...
A more critical member (NOT ME, mind you) might observe that the timing belt cover was engineered to keep debris and other harmful components of the underhood environment away from the timing belt and seals, in hopes of extending their life. Since I am NOT one of those critical members, I will not make that observation.

Instead, I will observe how serendipitous it was that you had an unobstructed view of the deteriorated and shifted seal.

...but discovered that in its wisdom, the Ford Motor Company designed the camshaft so that the Woodruff key is at the bottom when the timing marks are aligned, resulting in the key dropping out when the camshaft sprocket is removed....
I did not know this off the top of my head, and I am not sure I would have noticed the key's orientation, had I have been in your shoes. I will make note of this bit of trivia. Should I find myself in your shoes someday [and miraculously remember this exchange], I think I would do the following:

1. Align the crank at the "other" TDC, with the cam sprocket 180 degrees off of the timing mark (and the keyway UP instead of DOWN).
2. Make a poor man's mark of some sort, noting the cam sprocket's current location.
3. Pull the belt & sprocket and replace the seal.
4. Re-install those parts removed, spin the engine to the proper timing mark(s) alignment, and confirm their correctness.

Thanks for sharing your story, so that others may benefit. (y)
 

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This wasn't technically 'today', but a week or two ago, I prepared [with some trepidation] to get the required bi-annual smog inspection on my red wagon.

This being a 1994, and pre-OBD2, the certification process includes a dreaded EVAP system test:
After pinching off the vapor line that goes to the charcoal canister, the fuel system is placed under a slight positive pressure via an adapter on the fill neck. (The gas cap is similarly tested.) This pressure must be held for some number of minutes, otherwise the car fails. A myriad of 28-year-old car woes can result in a failure. These include the dreaded fill neck hose itself, the vapor lines and grommets buried on top of the tank, the fuel pump o-ring, and the vapor line to the front. And there's more! Beyond the pinch-off point, the continuation of the vapor line to the charcoal canister and the purge line to the throttle body are all subject to a physical inspection.

I have previously failed the EVAP test on multiple Gen2's for multiple reasons, so my week-or-two-ago task was a review of system components, and a peremptory replacement of ALL the vapor-related underhood hoses.

Thankfully, the car passed the EVAP and all the other tailpipe emission and inspections tests.
I single-handedly saved the planet.

You're welcome.
 

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...and keep the lower splash shields on which should keep most debris out.
Splash Shield Delete, here (you know, for simplicity). :p

...I think the EVAP system on my car has never worked since I've had it as there is never pressure in the tank when I remove the gas cap. I did replace the vapour system grommets on the top of the fuel tank several years ago as they were badly leaking. It doesn't produce a trouble code, however.
Pre-OBD2 won't throw a CEL if the EVAP system is malfunctioning.
1996 model year [OBD2] was when the EVAP pressure sensor was added (which WOULD throw a CEL in case of failure).
That's why OBD2 cars don't need the EVAP test - they are periodically testing themselves.
 
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