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1998 Ford Escort Cranks but will not start

I have a 1998 Ford Escort 2.0 SOHC that was rebuilt with new pistons, rings, and the head reworked a year ago. The car ran fine with my son driving it during this time period. A few months back, he indicated the car ran hot, but he “immediately” pulled over and put water in the car and had no problems out of it. A few months later, the car started not wanting to idle and he had to keep his foot on the gas. A check engine light showed the Idle Air Control Valve as being defective, so it was replaced. The car also got new plugs, wires, fuel pump and filter. The car now will turn over but not start unless you spray gas/carburetor cleaner in the intake or pump the gas while starting it. The car will sometimes eventually start and run if you keep the engine rev’d, and it will eventually idle roughly when you let off the gas. It immediately dies when it is placed in gear. The exhaust was disconnected to check for a blocked converter with no luck. Also, the computer is not giving any error codes despite not running correctly. I am also noticing now that the spark plugs are fouling out and are getting oil on them. Is it possible the headgasket was damaged, or is this something else?

perform a compression check and a leak down test. then come back here with the results

Ok. Sorry about the delay, but working 2 jobs takes alot of my time, plus I had trouble locating a tester. The first 2 cylinders on the left side of the engine are only producing about 40-45 psi while the remaining 2 look to be working well at about 105 or so. Is this going to be a burnt head gasket that something like liquid glass won’t fix?

Ouch. Even 105 is terrible. And with the other two at 40-45 its no wonder it won’t run. What you’d really like to see is something like 170 or better across the board. I suspect that the head will be coming back off at the very least. In general it seems likely that everything wasn’t put in order when things were rebuilt. Did anyone check the compression after the new pistons, rings, etc? Were the block & head checked for warp and shaved accordingly?

The problem occurred a year after the rebuild. My son ran it hot and then the problems started. I am pretty sure he didn’t pull over when he first saw it, or he didn’t see it right away. But yes, when I rebuilt the thing, I put a new head gasket set, the head was re-worked by a highly recommended shop, pistons, rings, and the timing was correct.

When the head was redone did it get new valve seats? That is a must for these engines. The valve seats were terrible and a little bit of overheating can send them out of the head - of course, they also come out of the head for no reason whatsoever.

Do you know why it overheated? Was it an unrelated coolant loss? Radiator problem? Stuck thermostat?

The had was completely reworked, due mainly to the fact that the seats dropped the first time causing the pistons to crack/shatter. The overheating originally was due to a small water leak unrelated to the internal engine (don’t remember exactly if it was radiator or hose). The heads were rebuilt by someone who rebuilds them for a living to include for race cars.

That’s a shame. I drive a '97 (with a rebuilt head) and other than that valve seat problem this car has been about the cheapest and easiest thing to keep on the road as anything I’ve ever owned.

I would at least double check the timing marks if you haven’t already just to make sure that the belt didn’t jump a tooth or two - though if that’s all it did you should still have similar low compression across the board.

These cars are somewhat disposable so if you’re not going to dig back into the engine then there’s no harm in giving the liquid head gasket a shot. Although, with the compression that bad I’d not expect any miracles. The active ingredient in at least some of those liquid head gasket treatments is sodium silicate. You can buy it cheaper all by itself than in an auto parts store brand. I have no direct knowledge of its use, but if you search this board for sodium silicate you’ll find mention of it.

Turns out the thing had a burnt head gasket and a bent valve. Now I have a different problem after putting it together I can’t get power to the fuel pump. I get power to and from the inertia switch/shut off switch, but not to the pump. Been working on this for a month now.

I too am having a similar issue. For about a year now I have been replacing hundreds of dollars of parts trying to get my 1998 Ford Escort to start. I have had the timing belt changed the fuel pump changed fixed the alternator and got a new battery. I picked it up from the mechanic and drove it home, went to start it the next morning and it did the same thing all over again, the engine turns over sounds healthy but just won’t start. I really would like some help. All the forums I come across mention the compression and timing misaligned, but I have had mechanic after mechanic look at and repair this vehicle with no long term benefits.

Also I would like to add that if I use ether/starting fluid the car Will run, just not on its own, and yes we have been going back and forth from fuel switch, fuel pump I am out of ideas and could use some feedback please.