Ford Escort Maintenance

Written by jeffrey caldwell
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Ford Escort Maintenance
(Anders Ljungberg - creativecommons.com)

The Escort was a subcompact car produced by Ford during the 1980s and 1990s, known for its fuel economy and low initial purchase price. Many Ford Escorts have been known to last well over 200,000 miles, and with a careful eye toward maintenance, you should be able to keep your Escort running for years to come.

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Fluid Level Check

The Ford Escort relies on many fluids, in some cases to lubricate mechanical parts and in other cases to operate hydraulic circuits. Over time these fluids can leak and must be replenished. Fluid level checks should be carried out weekly. The engine oil dipstick is located on the driver's side of the engine. Remove it and wipe the oil off the dipstick and then thread it back into the tube. Remove the dipstick and read the level. It should be between the MAX and MIN lines. Add oil if necessary. The coolant level is checked by visually inspecting the level in the reservoir while the engine is cold. It should be around the "Full Cold" line. Take a look at the coolant because oil mixed in with the antifreeze could signify a leaking head gasket. The brake master cylinder will be located on the driver's side of the firewall behind the strut tower. Pull the lid off and check the fluid level inside. To check the automatic transmission fluid level, first allow the engine to warm up to normal operating temperature, then check the fluid level on the dipstick.

Air Filter Inspection

The air filter cleans incoming air to prevent dirt or contaminants from damaging the engine. A dirty or clogged air filter can severely restrict air flow and rob your engine of power. On carburetted models, the air filter will be located above the engine in a round or oval housing. Remove the wing nut from the top of the housing and remove the cover plate to gain access to the filter. On fuel-injected models the air filter will be located in a plastic box next to the bumper. Disengage the clips that connect the cover plate to the air box to gain access to the filter. The easiest way to determine if the air filter is dirty is to shine a light through it. If most if the light is blocked, the filter needs to be replaced.

Engine Oil and Filter Change

The oil and filter should be change about every 2,000 miles. Allow the engine to cool at least 20 to 30 minutes before changing the oil. Locate the oil-filter pan bolt on the bottom of the oil pan and place a waste-oil collection pan underneath it and remove the bolt. Wait until all the oil has drained out of the engine before reinstalling the bolt. Next locate the oil filter--it will be close to the catalytic converter. Remove the filter using a strap wrench or filter socket, but be careful because oil will seep out. Clean the filter mounting surface with a shop rag and remove the filter gasket if it did not come off with the old filter. Use your finger to completely wet the new filter gasket with fresh motor oil. Fill the new filter with fresh oil before installing it. Locate the oil fill cap on the valve cover, and fill the engine with the amount and type of fresh motor oil listed in the vehicle owner's manual. Run the engine for a few minutes and then check the oil dipstick.

Tire Pressure Check

The tire pressures must be checked weekly to ensure proper tire wear. This procedure will require the use of a tire pressure gauge. Do not rely on the tire pressure gauges connected to air pumps at the petrol station. They can be misleading. The tire pressures can only be checked accurately when the tires are cold, meaning the vehicle has been driven less than one mile after sitting for at least three hours. Remove the valve stem cap on each tire and hold the gauge firmly over the valve stem. If you hear a hissing sound coming from the valve stem you need to press harder. The correct tire pressure will be listed on the sticker in the driver's door jam. Add air as necessary, but do not overinflate the tires.

Hoses and Drive Belts

There are four coolant hoses in the engine bay of a Ford Escort, two large hoses that run between the radiator and the engine, and two smaller hoses that run between the engine and the heater core. Visually inspect the hoses for leaks, fraying and wear. Pay special attention to the hose ends, which can fray, and tighten the steel hose clamps that secure the hoses. Check the drive belts that run between the crankshaft pulley and the engine accessories, such as the alternator and power steering pump. If they appear frayed or cracked, they must be replaced. Measure if the drive belts are tight enough by measuring the deflection of the belt. Place a straight edge over two of the pulleys along the length of the belt. Then measure the distance you can push down on the belt. It should be between one-half and one-quarter inch. Any more and the belt needs to be tightened.

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