1995 Ford Escort LX Wagon 1.9L 4 cylinder CVH from North America
An excellent piece of crap
- Windshield wiper arm snapped off when I turned them on when the wipers were frozen to the windshield (got a used one for a few dollars and replaced it myself).
- Rear view mirror fell off windshield (bought a $5 kit and glued it back on).
- Heater not working well because the engine is not getting as warm as it should. This is also making my fuel mileage 10-20% worse than it should be (presently only getting about 7.5L/100KM. Partially fixed with new thermostat (old thermostat opening too quickly). Still not 100%. Likely will be completely fixed when I replace the thermostat housing, which has a vapour bypass that can break and cause coolant to bypass the thermostat, causing the engine to cool down too much and take longer to get warm. I should have replaced the thermostat and housing at the same time.
- The switch for the rear defogger only keeps the defogger on if I stick some tape on it to hold it down. Not going to bother fixing.
- Routine maintenance (oil changes, new spark plugs, plug wires).
- Occasionally requires a 2 or 3 tries to start. Not sure why yet, but will get to the bottom of it eventually.
- Previous owner replaced some burned out lights, fixes some rust, a ball joint in the front and a broken broken spring in the rear (common problem... best replaced with Moog springs instead of crappy Ford OEM springs).
- I'm expecting to have to replace a tie rod every once in a while in the future as this is one weak area on the Escorts. Had to do this on a previous Escort I owned. As well, other Escort owners I know have to do this as well.
- I also expect that it won't be long before the rust starts to reappear.
Escorts make for great used cars. The depreciate like crazy, they are cheap to run, cheap to insure and the parts are cheap and widely available.
Until my mortgage is paid, I will only get myself cheap used cars. I also have two small kids... so anything I buy will get beat up. If I buy a decent car, this would actually bother me. But on a cheap, disposable car, it doesn't. I bought my wagon, certified and emissions tested, for CAN$1150.
I also bought Ford Escort parts car for $300... for that I got newer tires on aluminum rims, the windshield wiper arm and a bunch of other parts that I may or may not use. Aside from this, I've spend another $237 (for a total of $537) on maintenance-related stuff and the thermostat purchase/install.
With resources like www.FEOA.net (Ford Escort Owners Association), you get info and can even download the same shop manuals dealers use for free! This means that you don't have to pay someone $90 an hour to read up on a problem.
In terms of power, the 88HP the 1.9L CVH engine produces is more than adequate for anyone who knows how to drive. I got this car over 170km/h. Who needs to go faster than that?
The engine isn't Honda-smooth, but it isn't "GM Tech 4"-rough either. This engine is better with the manual than with the automatic.
The automatics are not as durable as the manual trannys anyway (assuming you know how to drive).
The shifter in Escorts get sticky and sloppy with age. With 265,000Km on mine, my shifter is VERY sloppy and a little sticky. Could easily and cheaply fix with a new shifter fork... but hey... this is a $1000 car, so I'm not going to bother unless it's safety related, causes the car to stop working or if it *really* bothers me.
Handling and ride is pretty good. Better than just about any minivan or SUV (unless you're talking about a Porsche Cayenne).
These cars have very good interior space, given the size of the car.
If my Escort lasts until the end of the year, I will have gotten my money's worth out of it. But I expect it to last longer than that.
I will be posting updates in the comments section in the future.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 13th January, 2007
Now at about 275,000KM. Since I wrote my review, I've replaced the thermostat housing and thermostat. Only cost around $200. Now the car warms up quicker and holds a constant temperature. Heat is better - not fantastic, but acceptable.
There is now a minor issue with the connector under the passenger-side dash that controls the heater and heater blower motor. I occasionally need to wiggle it to get the heater/blower working.
Also recently installed a new Sony CD Deck with a USB port. Hugely better than the factory tape deck.
Front speakers are really crap. Already replaced my rear speakers with a couple of Sony 260W 3-way speakers. Will be replacing the front ones soon.
Have also recently have been experimenting with changing my driving style to improve fuel economy. I drove for one tank of gas where I drove aggressivly (120-140km/h on the highway, regular acceleration in city, keeping engine running at red lights). My mileage was around 9L/100km.
Taking it easy and staying at or a little above speed limits and turning the engine off at red lights resulted in economy of around 7.5L/100KM.
And most recently, I started incorporating techniques that Toyota Prius drivers use to get max mileage:
-park at the top of hills and roll down with the ignition on and not starting the engine until hitting a flat part or going uphill.
-cut the engine and leave ignition on when going down long hills
-drive at a little below the speed limit
-always turn the engine off at red lights
-not using the air conditioning
-inflate tires to 35psi.
In doing these things, I reduced my consumption to 5.7-6L/100KM in summer driving.
The next step I think is to experiment with aerodynamic improvements when I have time. I've read that this can result in an extra 20% fuel economy improvement in highway driving on some vehicles.