I agree with how expensive Escorts -- or any Ford -- are to repair in the area of OEM Ford parts. I went to a dealer's parts department to buy an oil drain plug, which is nothing more than a short little bolt, and they wanted US$17! I asked about the factory repair manual and they wanted almost US$200 per volume. A plastic heater control knob was US$40 if backordered. I then went to a major chain auto parts store and purchased substitutions for these items: US$26 total. An electronics repair shop gave me a knob that fit for free.
I don't know what the paint problem and rust situation is. I live in a sand pit (Southwestern US) and the average wind speeds around here are about 15-20 miles an hour. I've had the car 3-4 years, it has about 156000 miles (about 250000 km) on it, and I'm not getting rid of it anytime soon. Its bodywork is in great shape, and while the engine had some problems and I've put $1000 US dollars into it, at 150000, some things are going to go. Labour on these cars are expensive because the engine essentially has to be taken out of the car. When my clutch went out it was $750. $170 clutch, $580 labour.
I would agree that the Ford Escort is expensive to fix, but nothing could be more expensive than shop time. I have gone under my Escort myself rather than send it to the shop, just because the design is so tightly packed. It's a nightmare to work on, with the alternator buried deep in the engine and the oil filter over, under and behind wires and cables, to name a few examples. To do a (usually) simple repair took a few weeks, because of special tools needed. On our Volvo, there wasn't anything you couldn't reach, and there was no need for any special tools. I wish that were the case with the Escort.
To the 21st Sep 2004, 20:31 commenter... My 1991 Ford Escort had 346,000KM when I got rid of it.
I own a Ford Escort. I got it for 500. It had been in a front end collision, I went to the junk yard, got a new radiator, bumper, fenders, lights and grille, both airbags and paint for under £300.
Since then it needed an alignment because of the crash, a new exhaust and a rear control bar, which was only 50 bucks for the control bar and muffler, so you need to learn to do your own work, and the car won't die.
I agree that ALL vehicles are expensive to repair if you have to take it to a shop for the repairs. I have been a Ford dealership mechanic for 16 years and just bought a 95 Ford Escort in excellent shape. Needs a new cylinder head due to over heating (found 7 cracks in the head). I'll install a new water pump and timing belt when I install the new head.
When the generation 2 Escorts came out in 1991, and even to this day, they are very reliable, economical vehicles. Hardly any recalls (unlike the Contour).
I purchased this Escort for $250.00US I'll have probably 1,000 dollars into it when I'm done, but I am a mechanic, which yes, will save me a ton in labor.
The Escorts from 91 to 2002 are very good vehicles in my opinion.
Um... several commenters have reported that the 1.9 in the Escort is a tightly packed design. I don't find this to be true, particularly the part about the "buried alternator." It's the first thing you see at the top of the engine bay right next to the timing belt cover! I could see the oil filter being a reach for the short-armed, but there's nothing really "in the way" on my 95... Likely an unscrupulous mechanic told you these things in an effort to up the repair bills.
Bought a 96 Escort LX for $800. Drove it from San Diego, Calif to Sisseton, SD.
Have had a few problems such as the leaky gas hose from when you pour it in to the tank. The hose where it connects to the tank was time-eroded and was easily fixed with gorilla glue, and then the heat went out.
Other than that, for having started with 226K miles on it and in just shy of being 8 months from purchase to now, we have 243K miles on it.
The last thing to fix now is the water pump. Not bad for a car with a lot of driving.
I tend to agree that the engine is not tightly packed.
A bummer with the 1.9 is the valve seats and timing belts. I have a engine with 380,000 plus miles that finally dropped a seat. In my experience, the chain store timing belts needed replacement every 25-30k along with the crappy tensioner pulley. When I finally popped the extra coin at the dealer (which had to be ordered as they actually used the crappy chain store parts!! : (...) the dealer belt was still in excellent shape after 100 plus k... which is past recommended change interval when the poor thing finally popped a seat.
So in the case of the belt and water pump/tensioner, I found it cheaper to buy from the dealer in the long run. But this I CERTAINLY AGREE defiantly is NOT the case for all parts.
All in all, it certainly matters on whether one can do their own general repairs. The major cost complaints of the original poster fall in routine maintenance for this vehicle, and looks like he got it all at once due to extreme neglect by previous enjoyers (is enjoyers even a word??) of that vehicle.
SOME ADVICE AND A GRAIN OF SALT.
If one cannot work on vehicles at all, one should source a trusted mechanic and should never look at such an aged vehicle without proper scrutiny from said mechanic. THEN you can bust his balls on labor for recommending a P.O.S... you let them know that up front and they will make sure you get a good car :)
IN THE CASE OF THIS VEHICLE, a low level shade tree mechanic can do the routine waterpump, tensioner and belt in half a Saturday at home with a basic tool set. I have done it in a snow storm in about two and one half hours on the side of the road, only after weeks of warning by the waterpump leaking... so it was clearly my fault when the OEM belt and pump failed and left me on the side of the road at 170,000 plus miles. Had I not been a lazy ass... it's only an hour and a half job in my shop where it's nice and cozy in the winter here in northern Michigan.
Loaded struts tend to be pricey even from the rock auto type places, but really are a breeze to install... alternators, brakes, ball joints etc... cake.
I find these to be nice driving cost effective vehicles to own and drive with basic maintenance a breeze. So I couldn't disagree with the O.P. more... sorry.
FINALLY!... For the added initial costs of the cars the O.P. recommends, I could buy and rebuild three Escorts, and go three times the trouble free miles in each... no thanks buddy!.!.
I have a 1995 Ford Escort LX 1.9 L with 200,000 miles. I have had very few problems except the timing belt goes every 5 years, an engineering problem. Great gas mileage, and built Ford tough.
...An engineering problem?
So you replaced the timing belt 3 times within 200000 miles. That's almost 70000 miles per belt. These timing belts should be replaced after 60000 miles. But the Ford engineers thought that the consumers won't read the manual anyway and made it a non interference engine. Wise engineers they are.
I have a 95 Ford Escort 1.9L with the gas tank leaking. It really makes me mad that I can't go anywhere with my car at all, with it leaking. I can only put 1/4 of fuel in it, but I can't go very far.
To the person that found 7 cracks in the head, what did you do? The mechanic told me if it's cracked, all they can do is weld it when they machine it to fix the cracks, and then it is not going to be reliable, because they usually don't find all the cracks etc. Also, he told me the bottom might blow out, because the top will restore so much power, the bottom won't be able to handle it. Please help!!!