For sale: 1996 Ford Escort LX Sedan 1.9L SEFI White with suspected cracked head or block. Good conditioned cosmetically, no parts missing. Starts and drives, but overheats after ~30min. Here's the saga. Bought at the end of August, the original listing read: "CLEAN 1996 Ford Escort. 92k original miles! Rebuilt engine at 80k miles at local Gainesville machine shop. (Professionally built). Approximately 10k miles on the new motor. Transmission shifts as it should. Ice cold air conditioning! Everything works as it should on this car! It needs no repairs! Brand new tires with less than 5k miles on them. Recently replaced alternator, radiator, radiator hoses and cooling fans. Come test drive today. I would trust this car to go anywhere! 2800 obo." I paid $2400 due to excellent cosmetic condition and test drive revealed no problems. In the first week started to notice a hard shift from first to second and very slight hesitation downshifting into first when coming to a full stop. Would always shift into gear, no slipping but sometimes it would bump slightly when shifting into reverse. When leaving the neighborhood I hit a speed bump a little too quickly that second weekend after I bought the car and the check engine light came on as I was pulling back into the neighborhood later that evening. Took it to the mechanic the next day who told me the engine and transmission mounts were failing and there was an EVAP situation (vapor canister, canister purge solenoid, purge flow sensor, vapor canister valve.) Paid to replace the oil pressure sensor, mounts and EVAP parts, as well as a rear brake job with wheel cylinder (because I don't like doing drum brakes myself.) Another week or two pass and the check engine light comes on going up a hill (which this car always had issues with, I suspected the transmission) but I pulled over immediately and had it towed to the shop by days end, where I was told the code was a misfire. I had just dropped $2k on the previous repair and the shop wanted $28 per spark plug for a tune up plus wires and coil, and injector cleaning for like $800 all together. I ended up looking and found a private mechanic who did it for me for $200 and I could supply the parts from the parts. He was able to narrow the issue down to two of the injectors which he replaced as well as plugs and wires. Ignition coil was fine. So off I went, got another couple months out of it but there was always small issues along the way. I had noticed from the start that there was a long crank situation. I was eventually able to resolv this by first replacing fuel filter (didn't solve) then fuel pump (solved). Mechanic noticed the bottom of the brake master cylinder was leaking, so I had him replace that. I also did an oil change myself. After that speed bump situation I had noticed intermittent quiet lifter tick, just when the engine was warming up, but eventually the mechanic seemed to resolve it with a timing adjustment. One Sunday I am climbing a hill and the check engine light comes on again. I pull the code at AutoZone and was told it's the downstream O2 sensor. I figure that's going to affect gas mileage, but the engine should be OK if it's just the sensor, and figured maybe that explains why I've had intermittent rough idle since the tune-up. I keep using it as a daily and plan to have my private mechanic replace the sensor next pay cycle. Aside from that issue hanging over me there was no other symptoms, but the weather was getting cold and I was using the heat for the first time. I was idling the car in my buddies driveway after driving over one night when suddenly I smelled antifreeze and smoke came out from under the hood by the firewall. I hopped in the drivers seat to see the heat guage just crossing the halfway (on this Escort normal temperature was always 1/4 full.) This was the first time it overheated for me and I immediately shut it down and ended up getting a ride home and returning the next day. I tried filling the coolant but it just come back out the intake manifold. I had it towed to a shop who said they suspected the head could have a crack but confirmed the leak seemed to be at the intake manifold. I suspected that the heater core was clogged and had backed up or the thermostat had catastrophically failed and maybe it had only melted that gasket. They quoted me $400 so I said what the heck, one last mulligan. After the replacement they told me it wasn't leaking externally but they didn't know about internally and it was still overheating, I suggested we repalce the thermostat so they replaced it pro bono and said it was no longer overheating so I drove it home. While it was in the shop with the manifold gasket I had finally call J&K Machine Shop where the engine was supposedly rebuilt and still was under warrantee. They inform me that they didn't actually do a full rebuild, they had only rebuilt the block and the guy I bought it from and his dad had finished by rebuilding the head. They also informed me that even if they had waranteed it, which they only do with a full rebuild, their warantees don't transfer with ownership change. Of course the guy I bought it from has ghosted me back with the first mention of lifter tick before this so I guess I figured he was lying about the warantee but I also figured it couldn't hurt to ask considering the point I was at. After this I didn't want to use it as a daily until I could fix the O2 sensor and more thoroughly test it so I went back to borrowing my buddy's car while I used my car for weekends. I flushed the heater core but it didn't seem to really have any clog. The check engine light was still on with the downstream O2 sensor code so, and I got the upstream one too so I could do them together. Well after having the private mechanic put them in I drove the car back home and noticed the heat gauge dropping below 0 and coming back to 1/4" seemingly at random so I sit in it while it idled for a while with trips around the block. Took it back to my personal mechanic with a water pump and timing belt and he told me he thinks the block or head is cracked but he would take a look and replace the water pump/belt if he can't find an external leak. After a few days he calls me back and says he has found the external leak and is confused why the shop I took it to wouldn't have told me this. He suggested I buy a Toyota or Honda next time because even if I had the money to rebuild the engine he can't seem to source it because Ford has long since quit making them. He told me that this engine is notorious for this kind of failure and I had done nothing wrong. I guess I can attest to the overheating collapsing lifters and maybe that's the case with mine. It is odd that the previous owner had replaced so much of the cooling system right before listing it. As far as the mileage it is now 94,043, I have the paper title and am about to junk the car. Supposedly the car sat for quite a while but was only at 80k miles before the rebuild but the wear on the steering wheel is kinda intense but AFAIK the mileage is accurate, nothing looked wrong about the title. If you'll match what you think a junkyard will give me for it and can come get it before the new year or maybe a week or two into January at the most please hit me up. If I don't hear from anyone before the new years it's junk city. For more photos and some videos of incidents described please see
96 Ford Escort - Google Drive and DM me if you're interested before it goes to the junkyard!

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