Last post on Jan 10, 2013 at 3:26 PM
You are in the Ford Escort Wagon
What is this discussion about?
Ford Escort, Engine, Wagon
#118 of 176 1997 Ford Escort engine sputter
Feb 20, 2010 (11:25 pm)
2.0L, automatic, fuel injected, A/C, having a few problems. First, when I start the car up it runs fine. As the car warms up is will start to run rough, not while highway driving (at least not yet), only while sitting at a stop light or while accelerating from a stop. At a stop light it will run a bit rough the longer it idles then it will start to skip. After being stopped and I start to accelerate, the harder I step on the gas the more it will sputter. Itís like itís not getting any gas and I can barely get any speed out of it. Then, if I let of the gas and try it again it may or may not sputter. It hasnít stalled yet, but the problem is getting worse every day. I do not get a "Check Engine" light.
The spark plugs, wires, fuel filter, air filter were changed in September and the ignition coil was changed today. Re-gapped the spark plugs a few days ago, they look fine. It was on a scope today and I have one print out. Said the negative was showing a spike? Or something like that and diagnosed it as the ignition coil.
Other problems (related?):
1. heat gauge goes up and down, sometimes will bottom out as I push on the accelerator, but have no idea if it is related. The gauge has a mind of itís own.
2. The high beam dash light will stay on some times when I dim the headlights.
Any suggestions for a cure would be MOST appreciated.
#119 of 176 Re: 1997 Ford Escort engine sputter [orcabc]
Feb 22, 2010 (12:55 pm)
How long after starting it up does it start to show symptoms? If it is running fine before shifting to the "open loop," meaning it is using feedback from various sensors to adjust the fuel/air ratio, your problem may not be be mechanical but, instead, electrical. Once the engine is at operating temperature, it uses feedback from the mass airflow sensor, oxygen sensors, etc., so those may be worth checking.
I had bad spark plug wires early last year that caused similar symptoms to yours, but they provided consistently poor performance regardless of engine temp. An ohmmeter showed extremely high resistance in two of the wires.
#120 of 176 Re: 1997 Ford Escort engine sputter [xwesx]
Feb 22, 2010 (1:47 pm)
There is no noticeable symptoms when it is cold. I can start the car, warm it up for a minute, and drive to work in the morning which is about 5 minutes down the highway and then about 5 minute city driving and it runs fine. It generally starts after the car has warmed up. It really doesn't like to sit at lights as it starts to idle rough and bucks every so often. After sitting at the light and I hit the accelerator a little harder than normal to go it will sputter like it's starving.
I had the problem before the new plug wires so it's probably not that. I will look into what you suggested. This could truly be a costly find.
After owning a Ford Festiva for 18 years, which was the best car I have ever owned, and running this used Escort for a year and a half I really can't compare. I understand the Escorts have many problems, looks like I bought into them.
#121 of 176 Re: 1997 Ford Escort engine sputter [orcabc]
Feb 22, 2010 (1:54 pm)
Haha; I hear ya. While my escort, a '98 LX, is reliable, I have put 150% more into it than what I paid at the start and I have only had it for nearly 20 months now. Still, it is an incredibly cheap car to drive. With the new Festiva about to be released, I keep playing with the idea of replacing this one in another year or so....
#122 of 176 Re: 1997 Ford Escort engine sputter [xwesx]
Feb 22, 2010 (9:29 pm)
I can't say I get the greatest gas mileage, especially so lately. And, today my car made a liar out of me. When I started it after work it hiccuped a couple of times just after starting it. So, it does not have to be warm to give me problems.
Just how much money is too much when it comes to fixing up older cars? Sure can't afford a new one even though that would be nice.
I think you mean the new "Fiesta" being released, at least that is what is coming out in Canada. Please correct me if I am wrong...if they are really coming out with a Festiva remake then that would be awesome!
#123 of 176 Re: 1997 Ford Escort engine sputter [xwesx]
Feb 22, 2010 (9:34 pm)
Wouldn't the 26 point diagnostic show that the O2 sensor had a problem? Same for the Mass airflow sensor, etc.? There was a check list that had a green check mark by these things. I have no idea how these things work.
#124 of 176 Re: 1997 Ford Escort engine sputter [orcabc]
Feb 23, 2010 (10:26 am)
Fiesta - yes, sorry!
As for sensors, not necessarily. They can be working well enough to satisfy the engine diagnostics (which is based on voltages and resistances) but still be providing erroneous information if they are fouled, dirty, or otherwise compromised. If the sensor is still "working" it often will not throw a code.
You know, it does sound like the issue may be spark-related if your car had "hiccups" just after starting. Try observing the engine bay in the dark while it is idling and watch for spark - perhaps the coil has a hairline crack? I know you just put in a new one but it can't hurt. Other options include fuel injectors (dirty or not operating properly), fuel pressure, and sticking valves.
How much is too much? Well, my opinion is that you would have to spend upwards of $4,000 a year on a "paid" car to have it cost as much as a new one, so if you are spending half or less than that much, it is probably a better investment. That is, however, assuming the car is generally reliable. Peace of mind counts for a lot, so if you cannot drive the car without worrying about it breaking down, you may consider replacing it. The problem, though, with buying another older used car is that you then have an unknown entity and may end up in the same situation you now find yourself, but with a car into which you have just sunk $4,000-5,000 to purchase.
It's a gamble, for sure, but every car needs maintenance and has wear items that must be replaced periodically.
Oh, and I think the alternator on my Escort is going out. It seems to engage intermittently all of a sudden and most of the way to work this morning my lights were very dim....
#125 of 176 Re: 1997 Ford Escort engine sputter [xwesx]
Feb 26, 2010 (11:00 pm)
Spark related? Well aren't you just one smart cookie? LOL It turns out that the plug wires were not changed when I had the tune-up a few months ago. And, my daughter discovered it, not the mechanic. I think I will pay my daughter from now on. My car seems happy now
I guess now it's to find the short (?) in the heat gauge, high beam indicator light, and tail lights. I have a brake light that is coming on and off when it wants to as well. I understand that there have been others who have had problems with tail lights too. I am not sure where to look but have to start somewhere so I guess it will be with the head lights as someone had suggested and then the brake light that works when it wants to.
Yes, I guess you are right about fixing up cars. You never know what you are getting when you buy used that's for sure. I hope you get your alternator problem worked out. Are you in the US?
#126 of 176 Re: 1997 Ford Escort engine sputter [orcabc]
Feb 27, 2010 (6:47 pm)
That's funny (if not frustrating), but at least you have it resolved! Electrical gremlins are the worst; I could tackle mechanical problems one after the other and not mind it too much, but those electrical issues drive me up the wall.
The voltage regulator had gone out, so I replaced it and all is good now (for now!).
I am in Alaska (Fairbanks).
#127 of 176 Engine quit running
May 07, 2010 (10:57 am)