The Ford Escort uses a CV (constant velocity) joint to connect the spinning axle to the front turning wheel hubs. The CV joint allows the wheels to flex and change vertical direction without the straight axle being stressed beyond certain tolerances. When the CV joint begins to fail, the assembly between the wheel hub and axle must be replaced.
Remove the Wheel
Lift the car with a standard tire jack (used to change a flat to the spare), then position a jack stand under the car frame right behind the wheel. Lower the jack onto the jack stand. Remove the wheel, then remove the brake caliper. Escorts have front disk brakes, so removing the caliper simply means removing two Allen screws and lifting the caliper off the disc. The disc will then slide off the five mounting bolts.
Remove the Driveshaft Bolt
With the disc brake removed, you can see the cottar pin securing the driveshaft nut to the shaft bolt. Remove this pin with pliers. Do not worry about breaking the pin, it will have to be replaced when reassembling the axle. Remove the driveshaft nut. This will take some effort--you may need a compressed-air impact wrench to do the job.
Remove the Steering Assembly
Use a tie rod puller to remove the tie rod bolt, a clamp-and-pull screw tool used to remove the tie rods connecting the steering rack to the steering knuckle. Secure the clamp to the tie rod and turn the tie rod tool level counterclockwise. This will pull the bolt out and release the tie rod. Remove the bold securing the sway bar with a socket wrench and move it out of the way.
Remove the CV Joint and Shaft
The CV joint is attached to a shaft connected to the transmission. This entire assembly will be replaced. You may need a mallet to knock the shaft loose so you can pull it straight out. Don’t use any lubricants or metal solvents to free the axles--you want to avoid any contamination around the steering assembly that will have to be cleaned off thoroughly later.
Putting the steering back together is the reverse of disassembly, using a new CV joint and drive axle, and a new cottar pin. Going in reverse in the exact order is important (install new CV joint and axle, assemble the sway bay and tie rod, install the driveshaft bold, disc rotor, caliper and wheel) so that everything goes together without one part being in the way of another.