24th Mar 2010, 04:48

Drive a 1981-90 Ford Escort if you're desperate. They're rough, crude, and uncomfortable. They are cheap, but surprisingly reliable. You could get a diesel (84-86) or a turbo (84-86). Everything else got a rough 1.6 or 1.9-litre powerless four-cylinder engine.

1991-96 Ford Escorts were a Ford body with engine (GT), transmission, and suspension from Mazda. Most had a 1.9-litre Ford engine, though, which was rough as guts, but good on fuel for the size. These are a better choice than Mazdas of the same age, because there is more choice of bodies (unless you want a screaming sedan or hatchback with 4-wheel-drive and a turbo, because only Mazda had that). Good cars.

1997-2001 Ford Escorts were a new all-Ford design. The Mazda influence was gone. The Ford engine was enlarged and they gave it a balance shaft (yay!). There are no hatchbacks, but the coupe model brought out in 1998 has good cargo room with fold-down rear seats. Also good cars.

And then came the Focus.

27th Jun 2010, 19:17

I recently retired my 97 Escort Wagon at 305,000 km (roughly 192,000 miles) which I bought in June 2004 with 143,000 km.

Major parts replaced: front wheel bearings, rear strut assemblies (a known weak spot in wagons), serpentine belt, exterior tie rod ends (twice), muffler. The A/C compressor also quit working in 2007, but $1,300 (CA) seemed way too much to have it replaced, so I just drove the next two summers without A/C. Note that I have not had to replace the timing belt (Ford manual says to inspect it at 120,000 miles/about 200,000 km and replace if necessary).

Overall, a good and reliable car. The trunk is very spacious, and it's amazing how much one can fit into it. I did not do anything exceptional in terms of regular maintenance, except have transmission fluid drained/refilled and the filter replaced every year.

Do not fall for the tranny flush-and-refill pitch at most oil change places, a flush in high-mileage cars will only ruin your tranny, and then you are on the hook for a rebuilt transmission (about $3,000). Also, if your car does not burn oil (mine did not, even at 300,000 km!) do not use high mileage oil, regular 5W30 is just fine.

As I said, good little car that didn't give me much trouble in the six years I drove it. The replacement? A 97 Escort Station Wagon!

10th Mar 2011, 19:50

The Ford Escort's reign is over. I've got one wagon that was rusted thru when I retired it, and I wanted to buy the same again... But since Quebec winters are harsh, they are mostly all rusted thru.

So it's the time to find another reliable car.