Question about 1996 Ford Escort 4 Door

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Car sometimes very sluggish. Also very prone to overheating when sat in traffic. Been to garage and they reckon needs new timing belt. Quoting £370 for new belt + water pump. Car not worth much so is it worth it?

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Timing belts are a critical component and the cost of replacement shouldn't really be means tested against the cost of the car, so if the garage is absolutely sure thats what the problem is then it is definitely worth getting it done without a shadow of a doubt.

As far as the overheating in traffic is concerned, is the cooling fan kicking in? If not then maybe the thermoswitch needs replacing.

Depending on the age of the vehicle (pre or post 1996), it could be fitted with an inercooler, and once again, age dependant, it could be fitted witha MAF sensor.

A blockage or leak in the intercooler or its hoses could cause sluggishness and overheating. Check that the hoses aren't clogged with oil. There will be oil in there, thats normal, but it shouldn't be so much that its narrowing the hoses. A blocked intercooler is a bit more difficult for the layman to diagnose without actually fitting another one.

A fault with the MAF sensor could cause sluggishness. Disconnect the wiring plug and see what happens. If power is restored then the MAF is dirty or faulty. It can be cleaned by removing it and then spraying brake cleaner or switch cleaner onto the hotwire hanging down inside it, and then gently blowing it dry with your breath, but don't physically touch the wire with anything, just spray it and blow on it.

An intake system air leak can also cause sluggish performance and overheating on MAF equipped engines, because it will allow unmetered air into the intake which the MAF doesn't know about and therefor underfuelling ensues, which will cause sluggish performance, and if severe enough, overheating.

There is a solenoid on the side of the fuel pump which is a known cause of sluggish performance on these engines when it fails, which can only really be tested by either fitting another one or using relevant test equipment.

If the wastegate actuator spring has weakened then the wastegate will open way too soon and the result will be no boost and therefor sluggish performance. To check for this, simply pull the vacuum pipe from the back of the wastegate actuator and plug it so it doesn't lose any boost into the engine bay, and then very carefully drive the car and see if it performs any better, but don't use full throttle in case you over boost it because the wastegate will open too late with the pipe removed.

I think I've given you enough to keep you busy for a while!!



Posted on Jun 18, 2008

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