1997 Ford Escort LX 2.0 from North America


Just keeps going..


Broken coil spring (80 for pair), parking brake cables (80), balljoint (30), parking light, third brake light for safety.

Downpipe of exhaust had a hole, so I replaced the entire exhaust for about 600 in parts. I replaced the alternator (200) this past summer. The heater blower motor quit (retrofit one from Kia Rio parts car) as well as the speedometer.

Windshield developed a crack running across the bottom (about 2-3 in from the bottom).

Cable hood release broke, so I wired it through the grill. It's handier that way anyway.

Left stabilizer linkage keeps failing (cheap), so I no longer bother to replace it - just check once in a while to make sure that's the only clunk I hear.

The shifter linkage bushings have disintegrated, making shifting gears interesting. I'll have to get around to repairing that sometime soon.

General Comments:

The car has done well, as I only bought it for $400 and have driven it for two full years (about 40-50K km). I have spent $1500 in parts, including the above list, as well as the timing belt and water pump for preventative maintenance.

The car is relatively easy to work on, but is built like an import - because the subframe is Mazda (ie. you have to remove the speedometer sensor in order to check the transaxle oil level).

No complaints. I'll be impressed if it holds together for another year. The roads in this area are pretty rough, particularly in the winter, and I do not take it easy on this thing.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 5th February, 2010

1997 Ford Escort LX Sport 2.0 from North America


Very reliable, even being this old!


Just the timing belt (cost $200 to change at the shop) and the serpentine belt (I changed myself for $20). Parts are cheap.

General Comments:

It's surprising economic in gas.

Is very reliable and cheap to repair.

It handles just fine.

Only complaint: The cabin is somewhat noisy in the highway (engine noises).

Paid $1800 (like u$1900) in 1/2009, believing it would not last much longer, with high km already (230K+), and this thing keeps running and running, and I tow a trailer all the time.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 28th January, 2010

1997 Ford Escort LX 1.9 from North America


Surprisingly adequate, but avoid the automatic


Needed new tires and battery. That was it.

General Comments:

The late nineties was not a terribly good era for economy-sized domestics. The Cavalier was a deathtrap, and the Neon was a deathtrap that was cheaply built and came apart all over the highway. The Escort was by far the best of the three, in part because it was built on a Mazda 323 powertrain and half Japanese.

Handling is much better than usual for domestics, especially of this vintage. Steering is tight and assertive. Ride is relatively smooth.

The engine is the same one that Ford had been putting in Escorts since the eighties, so they'd refined it pretty well by 1997. It's a bit harsh, but not terrible, and perfectly adequate for the price. Decent gas mileage, especially for a domestic engine.

My main sore point is the automatic transmission. This is the best AT that Ford manufactured at the time, and that fact is incredibly sad. The AT in my Escort didn't spontaneously disintegrate or fall out of the car as with F150s and Crown Vics of this vintage, but it was incredibly chintzy and cheaply made. More importantly, it couldn't handle accelerating up a hill without dithering for several seconds, and occasionally did the same thing on the freeway, complicating high-speed maneuvers such as quick lane changes and putting me in several frustrating and dangerous situations. I'm glad I lived in a rural state at the time and there was generally no one around when the transmission decided to be stupid.

I took the car on a few short freeway trips when I first got it, and was continually surprised that it made it up to 65 at all, much less that we survived the 4 mile trip to the next exit.

At the end of the day, this is still a crappy, tiny, cheap car that feels like a deathtrap. A very reliable and well appointed deathtrap that puts the Cavalier and Neon to shame, but a deathtrap nonetheless.

With a stick shift, it could be a dependable little around-town beater for the right price, and is a good value 13 years later, considering it's basically a Mazda 323 with a Ford engine and transmission. I've known people who got 200,000+ miles out of stick Escorts of this vintage. Being sideswiped by a Toyota Camry in a parking lot will probably still send you to the hospital driving this car, but if you're hard up for cash and need cheap, reliable transportation that pays for itself and isn't too much of a hassle, you can do a lot worse. Just avoid the automatic unless you live somewhere completely flat with a low speed limit, or really want to die that much faster.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 16th December, 2009

16th Dec 2009, 17:36

I'm not sure I'd call ANY of the cars you mentioned "death traps". That's pretty strong. Of course ALL small cars are not safe when hit by a larger vehicle. That's just basic physics.

I have a handicapped friend that I have accompanied to buy cars for over 20 years. He bought a new 1993 Escort and LOVED it. It was an automatic and he never had any problems with it. When it was totaled in 2001 (at 114,000 miles) he had had ZERO engine repairs, not even a timing belt (which was WAY overdue for replacement). He opted to replace it with a 2001 Dodge Neon. The Neon is now 9 years old and has over 130,000 miles. It, too, has been a rock-solid, very reliable car.