1995 Ford Escort - Engine Shakes

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Just bought a 1995 Ford Escort LX with 128K miles on it for 1 grand. Car ran well, my dad checked it over and said it looked like a good deal to him.

I got the car Friday, took it to/from work twice and then made a trip from Rhode Island to Pennsylvania to visit family (about 240 miles). I noticed on the way down that the car ran beautifully on the highway, but as I got off on a connecter road with about a 45mph speed limit at several points the car felt like it wasn't getting enough gas and began to shake.

The next day I drove up to NJ to visit another relative (about 45 miles), and on the way back the car began to shake on the highway at a steady speed. The shaking kept getting worse and worse, and while stopped at red lights the car was shaking very badly. The only time it didn't seem to shake was when I had the accelerator floored.

My mom had a mechanic friend of hers check it out, and he ran a cylinder compression test on it and said one of the cylinders wasn't holding compression and speculated that it was due to a bent valve, which would cost about $1,000 to fix, and that he had checked the spark plugs first and they were all brand new; the car had apparently been tuned up before I bought it. I called my dad and talked to him, and he said to him it sounded more like a fuel filter or fuel injector problem. My mechanic back in RI said it was likely a PVC/CVC pipe or something like that, I'm not good with cars and can't remember what he said exactly.

If anyone has any input about this, I would appreciate it. I spent all my money buying this car, and if it needs another grand in repairs I'm going to be pretty upset, so I'm hoping it's not a serious issue.

Thanks in advance.

posted by  ninjaskittles

Bump! Help me please :(

posted by  ninjaskittles

Yes well it could be just about anything.

It could well be a non seating valve;
A loose engine mount;
Collapsed muffler;
Dirty air filter;
Blocked PCV (Positive crankcase ventilation);
Vacuum leak;
Dirty fuel filter;
Bad ignition;
Failing temp sensor or miscalibrated TB or other sensor;


posted by  Wally

Could it be ANY of those, or are some more likely than others. I don't think it's the muffler, since the car runs quietly. Also, how expensive are those problems to fix, since I'm on a tight budget.

posted by  ninjaskittles

Start with the cheap do it yourself stuff.Change the air filter,check all wires and connectors for loose ones.Change the PCV VALVE. and the fuel filter.If that does not help Take the car to a ford dealer and run a scan on it.Remove the o2 (oxygen sensor and run a backpressure test to make sure that the catalytic converteris not plugged.If you drove it and got the "cat" hot,it could cause the trouble.
That particular problem fools alot of people,as it can come up as a mass airflow pressure sensor code (MAP SENSOR).THE MAP SENSOR EXPECTS TO SEE ALOT MORE AIR VOLUME,AND IT LOOKS LIKE A VACUUM PROBLEM.
Sometimes there is a common fault ,and FORD WILL KNOW,and actually save you money.Again,I would check the cat first.NEVER trust just one opinion
unless you really know who you are dealing with.There are alot of horror stories out there about lousy built cars ,and it is misdiagnosis half of the time.
Good luck with it .

posted by  the lobster

just a friendly note... you might wanna edit your post with proper information b4 you get corrected by me or others, cuz i know how sensitive you are to being corrected

posted by  BanffAutoSpa_ap


Well, anyway. Try taking off a plug wire while it's missing. If the miss gets worse or it stalls, then that cylinder is working properly, if it makes no difference, that one has a problem. Take off only one wire at a time and work your way through all 4 or 6, whatever your car has. That will narrow it down if it is just 1 or 2 cylinders missing. Then you can start looking at things such as plugs, coils, cams, wires etc. if it is just 1 or 2.

posted by  88GrandPrixSE

are you saying that a blocked catalytic converter cannot fool the vacuum system?if so,YOU are not correct.my neighbor is a GM SERVICE MANAGER and he says it can.I used to work with a guy with a SAAB 900 ,the cat failed and caused many of the same symptoms,rough idling,stalling,power loss,check engine lights,a burning smell,vibration,noise,etc.One of my cars ,an olds 98 just had a host of gremlins from a catalytic converter problem.thanks for your opinion.but THEN I go back and read his original post again and it says that there is low compression on one cylinder.i am baffled as to how a spark plug or wire could lower the compression.as you can see i was commenting on all the general possibilities.compression problems only are caused by:bad head gasket,worn rings,bad valves,and other things.I APPRECIATE YOUR INPUT.

posted by  the lobster

Let me guess, the #4 cyl is low, check for a slight coolant leak at the headgasket by the t stat, the the headbolt in the corner front by #4 stretches or loosens and leaks, if you catch it soon enuff sometimes you can tighten the bolt but if it`s been a while it corrodes. It seems to be a problem in the 95`s, I`ve seen a ton like this, I`ve gotten away with just a head gasket and bolt set a few times, goodluck with it. How long since you bought it any recourse, lemon law etc?

posted by  Diesal55

all i meants was your mass air pressure sensor stuff, even i don't know wtf your talking about

posted by  BanffAutoSpa_ap

Shut the hell up! He's a pilot, he has to be right. :wink2:

posted by  vwhobo

roger that. :ohcrap:

posted by  BanffAutoSpa_ap

Roger dodger, over and out to you buddy.

I bet the ground crews love him. I can see the write-ups now.

"System does not work in O F F position."


Yes, Ive seen that discrepency more than once in my life.

posted by  vwhobo

my car wont start.... well first of all it's in "R" that must mean race right?

posted by  BanffAutoSpa_ap

ok, here's the scoop. i just had to put an engine in my wife's '93 escort b/c of the same problem.

start it up and feel the intake runners, prticularly #3 and #4 (closest to the drivers' side. all 4 runners should be cool, but if any are warm or hot, you may have an inherent 1.9/2.0 ford problem and one of the valve seats has disintegrated. if this is the case, save up some coin, because that seat can cause a little damage on the way out. ford used powdered metal valve seats, and after extended use and an occasional overheating, the seat cracks and falls into the cylinder. if you are mech. inclined, you can do a compression test yourself and then do a leakdown test. once you nail down the cylinder (if you find a compression anomaly) you can actually see the valve if you remove the associated manifold and compare that to the others to see if the seat is missing. if it turns out you only have a bent valve, i would recommend having the seats replaced with stainless ones (if you plan to keep it). good luck!

posted by  dodger65

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