1998 Ford Escort Suddenly Stopped Running



I rebuilt the engine on a 1998 Ford Escort LX 3 years ago. The car was given to my son and has run fine up until about a month ago. The Car suddenly started running very roughly and then wouldn’t even idle. It would crank and run if you kept your foot on the gas, but it ran as if it was out of time. There was also a check engine light for the idle air control valve. I replaced the IAC valve, reset the timing 3 times, have since changed the plugs, wire, pcv valve, changed the fuel pump and filter, and am still having problems with the car. Sometimes I can get the car to run and once even got it to idle by itself, but it was again with the rough idle. I have pulled the plugs and noticed they are covered in oil. I am getting fire through all of the plug wires and gas up through the fuel filter. I have broken the exhaust loose at the manifold to see if maybe a bad convertor was my problem but I still have the same problem. Sometimes I can get the thing to crank and run with my foot in the gas, and then sometimes nothing. Help! I’m out of ideas to check.


“I have pulled the plugs and noticed they are covered in oil.” Which part of the plug is covered in oil? The ceramic or the electrode?


Has the timing belt slipped??


Did you check the wiring for the IAC valve? It might not be the valve that was the problem, but a problem in its power supply.


the Electrode


The timing and belt is on the mark as it should be.


It no longer gives me the check engine light, so just assumed the valve was bad. It had a lot of carbon build up and such like a bad one would have.


What code was it, exactly? The computer doesn’t directly monitor parts for whether they work or not and can’t tell when a part goes bad. It monitors systems and tells you when it gets an out of range reading. This kind of reporting activity can sometimes be instantaneous, but often requires a number of drive cycles before the computer sets a light. Don’t assume that the IAC is fine.


I don’t exactly remember which code it was, I just remember that it indicated a failure in the IAC when I looked it up.


The spark plug charts indicates worn piston rings, doubtful for such a quick onset, or bad valve guides, or maybe even a clogged pcv valve. If all plugs are fouling try the pcv valve.



Just had a new PCV valve installed. Just thought of something else though…I recall now that while trying to start the engine, I am hearing the water in the overflow resivoir gurgle or bubbling as the engine is turning over. This stops soon after you quit trying to start the engine. The action also isn’t noticable when the engine actually starts, just when the engine is being started or turning over. Is this possibly signs of a blown head gasket? I’m not noticing water in the oil yet, but is this the signs of a burned/blown gasket in other areas?