Question about 1997 Ford Escort

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1997 ford escort speedometer not working

I recently completely rebuilt and replaced the engine in my 1997 escort with a engine from a 1998 escort. On the new engine the only part I did not use was the knock sensor. Within 1 hour of driving the new engine, the check engine light came on. I used my scanner to diagnose the code, and it was the oxygen sensor. I replaced both oxygen sensors and had no trouble with them since. A few days later, my speedometer started acting funny, it caused the car to shift with irregular patterns and again triggered the check engine light. I used my scanner to diagnose the trouble code, and it gave me the code P0500 which is the speed sensor. I replaced the speed sensor with a brand new one, and the speedometer is still not working, and the shift patterns are still irregular. It is a automatic transaxle. Anyone have a solution to this one?

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  • its420_us Apr 17, 2009

    I did not check the fuse, or see a fuse with a label for the speed sensor.

  • its420_us Apr 17, 2009

    Ok, I checked all fuses inside and under the hood; they're all good.

  • its420_us Apr 20, 2009

    I did find my own solution to this issue, and would like to pass on what I did to resolve the issue. As I stated, I did replace the speed sensor, and I double checked that it was properly installed and fully seated against the transaxle; it was. Next step, I removed the instrument cluster from the dash to check continuity between the wire clip from the speed sensor and the actual speedometer; I had 100% continuity. Next, I checked the electric motor that actually powers the speedometer; It was bad. I went to the salvage yard and pulled the electric motor and replaced it.

    The electric motor that powers the speedometer was the issue.

    After I replaced the motor, everything started working as it should. My transaxle shifts perfectly, my speedometer works correctly, the check engine light is off, and I have no codes when I scan with my scanner.

  • its420_us Apr 25, 2009


    all the transaxle sensors, and speedometer work together in determining how the transaxle shifts on these vehicles.

    The sensors determine rpm, speed, and kickdown, therefore telling the transaxle when and how to shift.

    If there is a bad sensor somewhere, or something isn't working correctly, the transaxle gets the wrong signals.

    There were no electrical connections disturbed anywhere.

    The electric motor that controls my speedometer was "frozen".

    The electric motor would not turn with power, and when I tried to turn it manually; it was stuck.

    After I replaced the electric motor in the speedometer everything worked (and still does) as it should.

  • its420_us Apr 25, 2009

    As far as I am aware of, there are 2 models of ford escort. One is made in the United States, and the other in Mexico. The only difference I personally see between the two models is emission controls on the engine. Your speedometer may stop working, and your check engine light may come on to signal your speed sensor is bad.With a manual transaxle, you would never have these issues because you control when to shift.

    The automatic transaxle is told when to shift by sensors. I believe the issue was the motor that was frozen sent bad signals down the path. As soon as I replaced that motor everything started working properly, and I've had no issues since (it's my daily driver). My original code was my speed sensor. I did replace my speed sensor as well, but I did that first, and I still had the issue after I replaced it.

  • Colin Stickland
    Colin Stickland May 11, 2010

    well we dont have many autos in spain because its classed as sissy,,,only manual.But it doesnt mean to say that we dont have autos around,brought down to spain from northern europe mainly by elderly reumatatic ex outdoor workers.But a 1997 vehicle with this sort of advanced electronics especially a ford,or what your calling a ford escort must be an entirely different beast to what we have in europe.The last one which was an auto i worked on had no electrics at all controling the gearbox gearchange .Only a vacumn pipe from the inlet manifold,well that was all i saw because i only gave it a quick check over for its annual vehicle inspection.The only auto i have seen from that age with all electronic gearchange was a audi with a computer under the floor which had been driven through a flooded road and the water had got in and corroded the circuitry.Price to high for a new one against value of the vehicle so it went to the scrapyard .

  • Colin Stickland
    Colin Stickland May 11, 2010

    cant see how speedo in instrument cluster can affect the transmission?? i think you must have disturbed an electrical fault somewhere but what?

  • mary allman May 11, 2010

    did you check fuse ?



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Well our escorts are built in liverpool uk and valencia here in spain,and if this is the problem with the autos many thanks for the info as it always comes in handy providing that i can remember it all .When you are a general mechanic like myself and not a dealer only so to speak ,then you have to fault find as you go along and work from basics.Now this is all very well on older vehicles but some of these new ones i cant evan change a battery without the immobiliser cutting in.Some of the newer mercs and VWs i cant evan change the oil or the brake pads without the immobiliser coming on.Also please dont mention the real bane of my life -----RENAULTS---and encrypted software .How these cars do in the states where the OBDII plug is connected into the car to test the emmisions ,with their renault only plug connector layout and encrypted software that would do mossad or the cia proud i can only wonder ??

Posted on Apr 25, 2009


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