1996 Ford Escort Van 1.8 diesel from UK and Ireland


Dependable van


New alternator and battery at around 90,000 miles.

Locks can be temperamental.

General consumables - oil changes, brakes, tyres, etc.

General Comments:

What can be said about the 90s Escort that hasn't been said already? Probably not much, but the van version of the car does not seem to have too many reviews on here, so here is my experience of one many years ago.

The classic frog shaped white van was bought at 3 years old with already some mileage on it, to be used by my electrical company for heavy work. I wasn't expecting much, as I'd heard these vans were not that great, however this van turned out better than expected - for over 4 years it covered many miles up and down the country from Inverness to London and all over, carrying heavy loads, and it did not let me down once, except for a flat battery that was replaced twice before figuring out the alternator was on the way out.

The 1.8 diesel gave good economy, but was very, very slow. The 55 horse power version was what I had if I remember correctly, and it was proudly displayed on the wings for some reason (why boast such a low HP?!?!). Later 75 BHP versions were better from what I heard. 0-60MPH in this one must have taken nearly 20 seconds, especially when fully loaded, not ideal for merging on motorways!

Interior was pretty dull with classic 90s Ford grey/black plastic everywhere, but what do you expect from a basic van, it is what it is. I found it comfortable enough mind you, and was not bad to drive with average ride and handling. Road noise was pretty bad however, not very quiet and had to shout at 70 MPH (when it eventually got there) to have a conversation with someone next to me in the passenger seat. Not as bad as my 80s Transit I had though back in the day, which was deafening on the motorway. I had to fit more powerful speakers for the radio just to hear it, and thought about doing the same with this van if I was going to have it any longer.

In conclusion though, the van was sold on with well over 100,000 miles on it (the odometer didn't actually display that though, only had 5 digits), so after turning the clock as they say, my company decided to sell it on. I have to give credit where credit is due though, it was a very dependable van (more reliable than some newer ones I've had recently believe it or not, even in the year 2016) and I'll always look back on these vans with good memories, as it got the job done and apart from the slow performance, they were not as bad as people said they were.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 10th October, 2016

12th Oct 2016, 08:06

Original author, just a quick correction to my review, the car had the digital mile/odometer so it did have 6 digits, was thinking of a mate's older Escort van with the analog display, which only had 5 digits when I was talking about the mileage. Did hear of one lasting to over 200,000 though! This was a tough engine despite the lack of power.

1996 Ford Escort LX 1.9L 4 cylinder from North America


The longest 13 years of my life


Master cylinder and a brake line at 55k.

Timing belt at 58k.

Alternator at 59k.

CV joints at 64k.

Engine would make a pinging sound sometimes (unknown cause).

Transmission at 75k.

The place where one of the motor mounts hooks onto was damaged so bad that it could not be replaced. Found this out at 100k after shimmying at highway speeds.

New transmission slipped in 2nd gear when it is floored and jerked occasionally.

Water pump started leaking and was replaced at 130k.

Timing belt again at 133k.

Engine seized at 133,485 miles.

General Comments:

I originally bought this car from a private party for $1,200 and thought I was getting a deal, but my guess is that the previous owner dumped this car on me.

The only reason I put up with this car for so long was due to the really good gas mileage it got in the city and on the highway. I always got over 35 MPG.

The car is very boring though and has only the basics; there is A/C but you can't turn it up too high because it heats the engine up even with both fans working. There is only a radio without a tape or CD player.

The engine is very weak, along with the transmission. They struggle to maintain 45-50 mph up a steep hill. The car was also maintained since I got it, oil changed every 3k, and spark plugs and wires at least every 40k. All fluids were good too.

All in all, I am glad that this car is finally gone, even though we have had a long memorable 13 years. Now I can buy something newer that is quicker and stronger.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 12th June, 2015

13th Jun 2015, 23:32

Ford Escort. Bic Lighter. Same deal. Use it til it's done, then throw away.

14th Jun 2015, 13:15

You could say the same thing about a Yugo. Or a Trabant.

Yet, there are people who "restore" them, go figure.

19th Jul 2015, 21:34

Difference is, the Yugo or the Trabi were "done" the day they rolled off the assembly line, not years later.

At least the Escort could be expected to provide a few years of service before you "throw it away".