The ignition switch on your Ford Escort allows you to start the engine by providing a signal to the starter motor. When the switch is malfunctioning, it is usually because the pins in the cylinder of the ignition are stuck or jammed. The ignition key has ridges on it that move pins inside the cylinder of the switch assembly. When the pins are properly aligned, the ignition can be unlocked and the switch is activated. Since replacing the ignition switch is an expensive process, you should first try to fix your existing switch assembly.
Insert your key into the ignition keyhole and jiggle the wheel back and forth while trying to turn the ignition switch. Sometimes, the steering wheel lock prevents the ignition from being turned properly.
Spray brake parts cleaner into the ignition key hole. This will clean out any small or loose debris that me have got stuck in the ignition key hole. Make sure you flush the ignition assembly and catch any fluid and debris with a shop towel.
Spray WD-40 into the ignition keyhole to lubricate the ignition pins. The brake parts cleaner is a solvent and will have removed any lubricant in the ignition switch assembly, therefore you need to lubricate the assembly again.
Push the key into the ignition switch and cylinder. Work the key back and forth to lubricate the pins in the switch assembly.
Turn the ignition key to see if you can turn the switch. This should fix the ignition switch if there is no critical failure of the switch assembly.