1996 Ford Escort LX 1.4 from UK and Ireland


Quite possibly the biggest pile of plop I ever owned!


Lost all the oil one month after buying it, despite the fact it was only a year old, with associated blue smoke pouring out the back like an T-55 tank: Valve guides needed replacing (taken care of under warranty). A friend told me that a certain batch of Escorts left the factory with dodgy engines, and this was common on any so fitted.

Oil separator went.

Exhaust fell off, despite the dealer telling me that it was okay until they got a replacement.

Three replacement exhausts (one company put the exhaust on upside down, which resulted in a loud bang every time I hit a bump in the road! Another fitter mistakenly replaced the exhaust 'o' rings with those from a Vauxhall Cavalier!)

Developed an odd starting fault, where if it didn't start first time, it would flood. Even after leaving it for more than an hour, it still wouldn't start. Only way to cure it, was to pull the idle sensor wire off the engine, restart by pumping the accelerator, then running at 3000+ revs to warm the engine. Then switch off, replace the idle wire and restart. AA called out on three separate occasions.

Car let in copious amounts of water... to the extent that I discovered the spare wheel well about quarter of an inch deep. The inside of the car stank of damp in the end. The back window would literally run with water. On freezing nights, it would ice up inside.

Somebody hit me head on, and the airbag didn't deploy (was an airbag actually installed???)

Engine would stop at times when warm and at idle. When the cooling fan cut in, it seemed to take too much juice out of the engine. A bit of a nightmare, if this happened in a traffic jam or at lights with the starting problem mentioned above.

Both headlights worked (only when they felt like it)

Three in car stereo systems. The second one took my tape and wouldn't give it back.

Constant unexplained knocking noise coming from the nearside left rear wheel/suspension area. Dealer couldn't find the fault.

Constant unexplained knocking noise coming from the nearside front wheel/suspension area. Dealer couldn't find the fault.

'O' ring seals on the power steering split resulting on steering fluid being sprayed into a hot engine bay, lot's of smoke, a near fire and a rapid drive to the garage.

Three sets of front discs... they kept warping.

Paint peeling off from the face of the speedometer resulting in the needle getting stuck at 15mph: Dealers solution- stick a bit of tape over the offending area.

Exterior paintwork had to be seen to be believed. The lacquer layer was peeling off all over the place.

Full beam would come on when it felt like it, much to the annoyance of oncoming traffic: faulty switch

Sunroof winder handle kept dropping down, no matter how many times I tightened it.

Spring shot through the drivers seat whilst I was sitting in it...made my eyes water!

If I carried any rear passengers (even one), the underside rear of the car would hit the ground everytime I passed over even the slightest bump. Never found out what the hell that was all about, despite the dealer scratching his head on many occassions with a "That's very odd". I could only realistically carry one passenger in the front, so technically must have had the world's only Escort two seater (that wasn't a van)

Boot wouldn't close properly if opened from the outside- had to bang it shut two or three times.

If the drivers door was locked from the inside, all doors would lock (central locking). The snag was they couldn't be unlocked for at least fifteen minutes. Result more than once I had to climb out through the window Dukes of Hazzard style!

General Comments:

I bought the Escort, because my previous Renault was hit by another driver. I thought the Ford would be better as it would be a cheaper car to put right if it went wrong. But did I buy a lemon!

Would I buy another Ford???

In a word NO! Okay, Ford have improved their image a lot over the years, and this WAS an Escort. With the faults that I experienced though, and the apparent non-interest of the dealers. Think I got a real Friday afternoon car with this one.

On the plus side (if there was one), repairs were cheap-ish.

Needless to say, I traded it in October 2006 and bought a 2000 Seat Toledo 1.8SE 20V. Infinitely better!!

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 2nd November, 2006

4th Nov 2006, 01:05

Why keep it so long then if it was THAT bad???

5th Nov 2006, 01:29

Because I was paying for it under a five year finance for a start. I wasn't able to get rid of it due to the terms and conditions, because until it was paid off in full, technically I didn't own it. Believe me, I would have if I could have.

Secondly, by the time I finished paying for it, I didn't feel like saddling myself with another long term finance plan.

The problem with the Escort, you either get a good one, or you get a bad one. What you get with these cars is all down to the luck of the draw. Even though I test drove it, and it was perfect, literally four weeks later I started getting problems. Unfortunately, I'm not gifted with foresight.

It's a shame, because the Escort is a good car... it's just let down by indifferently bodged construction and not very helpful dealers.

In the end, and just like Ford, I couldn't be bothered either.

12th Oct 2008, 03:53

I would have consulted a lawyer. Faulty equipment should have dissolved responsibility to pay. Should have been returned as a lemon.

4th Jun 2017, 16:52

Returning it would have been the answer, but the garage I bought it from closed down after a year (I wonder why!).

1996 Ford Escort GT 1.8L from North America


Unbelievably the most reliable car I have ever driven and quick


My struts are little weak especially in the winter. the rear more than my front. I guess I have to replace those.

General Comments:

This is the best car I have ever owned for the amount of money I paid for it which is around 2000 cnadian.

I have 220 right now and have been running the car for about 3 years with no major repairs on it.

This car has no problem beating honda civics. actually it'll smoke them.

I honestly think the engine can go for another 3 years maybe more. I have never done and major repairs on it.

Plus it's a seriously quick car for its year. it'll beat my brothers cavalier that's for sure.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 14th September, 2006

14th Sep 2006, 12:48

Is all you've got to do in Canada is to race Civics, Cavaliers & Escorts? Heck, a kid on a Schwinn has a decent chance of beating those!

14th Sep 2006, 12:50

You shouldn't be surprised at the performance and reliability of your old Escort. I'm a mechanic, and I've seen Ford products with way over 400,000 kilometres on them that still ran flawlessly. Ford build quality is world class. When Ford took over Mazda and Jaguar, those cars made vast improvements in reliability. Don't be fooled by clueless car magazine writers and high-dollar Japanese car ads. American cars are still the best built in the world, and the best value in the world...PERIOD.