1999 Ford Escort Valve Seat Drop Inevitable?

You got that right!!! …lol… The challenge with removing a cylinder head is that part is sort of like the engine’s Grand Central Station, lots of stuff connects to it. So it all has to be removed or unbolted. It’s connected to the block of course, but also to the intake manifold and the exhaust manifold. And to remove the exhaust manifold stuff is always problematic b/c that part gets really hot and the heat sort of welds the fasteners in place, making them difficult to unbolt.

The other challenge you may face is you’ll find the head surface and/or block surface isn’t as flat as it should be, engine heat over time may have warped it a little. In that case you’ll likely need to take the head to a machine shop to be skimmed so it is flat. More likely only the head would require this treatment, the block is less likely to warp. You’ll need a replacement head gasket of course.

You certainly could and should. There’s no reason to remove the engine to replace the head.

If you do end up proactively replacing the head as maintenance, be sure to also replace the timing belt components and water pump.


I found youtubes of this pretty quick. Watch a number of them, see if you can do it.

You might buy a head all ready to go and swap it in when the time/money allows. There might be a core charge on the existing head though so take that into account if you plan to take your time. The suggestion to replace other parts while you are in there like the water pump/timing set is also a good idea.

This engine was used in the Focus as well. They seem to hold up OK until 120,000 miles, then the problems become more common. Your mileage may vary though.

Just to put a little time on the above… So as asemaster said, pull the head NOT the engine…
And pulling the head is way more involved then just the valve cover on your old Jeep…

BTW Once the engine is out of the car, then you still have to R&R the head…


|All O.H.C.- SOHC = 6.3 hours labor

Includes: Remove carbon and check surfaces for warpage. Includes adjust Valves (where applicable) and clean and adjust Spark Plugs.|6.3|


|All Automatic Trans = 10 hours labor (All Standard Trans = 9.8 hours)

Includes: R&I Engine Assembly. Transfer Fuel and Electrical Assemblies and Engine Mounts. DOES NOT include transfer of intake & exhaust Manifolds, Valve Cover(s), Timing belt & Cover(s), and/or Water Pump. - R&R.|10.0|


All Automatic Trans = 22.2 hours labor (All standard trans = 22 hours)

Includes: Replace Rings, Main and Rod Bearings, Camshaft(s), Crankshaft and Timing Components. Remove Cylinder ridge, burnish Cylinders, grind Valves and clean and test or replace Lifters. Includes (where applicable): Adjust Valves. DOES NOT include Pin fit or rebore and align Rods. See machine operations. 22.2

I think my best bet would be to buy a rebuilt head, like this one from Cylinder Heads International:

I’ve watched videos on valve jobs and while I think I could do it, I’d rather just buy a remanufactured head and then send back my old one as a core. Seems way easier and not crazy expensive to do so.

My biggest worry would be taking the entire engine out of the compartment. If I had to do that to swap the head, I’d probably just ask a mechanic friend to work on it for me instead. But as long as the block stays in the engine compartment, I feel reasonably comfortable taking off the exhaust manifold and everything else that would need to come off the head.

And since I’m buying a remanufactured head, I wouldn’t have to worry about taking the head to a machine shop to be resurfaced. And presumably this new head wouldn’t have the defect that came out of the factory with Escort cylinder heads.

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Just to clarify, if im only buying a remanned head and swapping that in, I’d only be going as far as the head gasket in terms of time, right? Im not doing anything with the block, since that’s not the failure-prone area on the Escorts. Im just going as far as removing the head and head gasket, then putting a new gasket and my remanned head, right?

As in, the Engine Assembly R&R and Engine Assembly R&I and O&H would not apply to me, I’m not doing those things, right. My estimated time working on the car would be closer to the 6.3hrs it takes to remove the head gasket (but obviously it would take me longer to do because this would be my first time.) Or am I reading this wrong?

You have the equipment to cut new valve seats?

And the equipment to grind the valves to match?

Go for it!



No not machine equipment haha. I was talking about when people take the valves out and grind with a brass wheel to remove carbon buildup. That’s the stuff I have. I thought that was what’s called a valve job but again I’m not a mechanic

Yes, you will need to do everything that a head gasket replacement calls for including replacing the head gasket even if it isn’t bad. Others suggested replacement of the water pump, timing set, and a few other things while you are in there and that is MONEY WELL SPENT if you plan to keep this any time at all which I assume you do. Anything that wears out and is little to no additional labor should be done while in there.

Ok I had heard water pump and timing set. I think I’ve heard oil pump as well, and also have heard that some of the issues with these engines had to do with oil pump not getting to cylinder #4.

But yes so far this project seems doable to me by myself, granted at a far longer timeframe than the 6.3hrs recommended for a mechanic.

As long as the remanufactured head I purchase from headsonly.com comes with everything I need to do a simple head swap, I think I can do this. And I plan on doing a video :wink:

The catalog states: “Guides and seats have been replaced as needed.”

Valve guides and seats are usually only replaced if worn, you want to be sure the valve seat have been replaced.

Some rebuilders indicate that the valve seats are new, expect to pay more than $350:

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Ok thanks for that info. I’m going to keep shopping around. Just emailed another company that sells remanned 2.0 Escort engines.

Maybe a machine shop near me wouldn’t be much more expensive? We’ll see

You don’t need the entire new engine, just the head.

Email the company you referenced: Cylinder Heads International and ask if their Escort SPI cylinder heads have new valve seats, if not, how much to include that in the purchase.

I was just giving you the labor times since you asked about pulling the engine just to pull the head and then posted ordering pistons, rods, rings etc… And someone suggested needlessly pulling the engine… No a Pro pulls the head with the engine still in the vehicle on your vehicle…

Yes, leave the engine in the vehicle and only pull the head…

buying a head now seems excessive on this old of a car with no symptoms of the concern.
But you do you.

Exactly my thoughts as well.

That’s an awfully big proactive step. My father had 3 heart attacks, a few stents, and a triple bypass. Uncle Lou died suddenly at 49 of a heart attack. Grandma died at age 52 of heart attack. Should I pre-emptively have a triple bypass or stents installed in my arteries?

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Don’t underestimate the risk of breaking other hard-to-find parts when you swap heads on this 24 year old car. Me, I’d keep driving while saving money for its replacement.


Plus as I think someone might have already mentioned, who is to say that the head has not already had the better valve seats already installed years ago??

But if something does break it could take out a piston or possibly the cylinder wall…

At this point it is a gamble, just flip a coin… Or pull the head and take it to a machine shop to see if it has had new seats in it, if they can even tell…??..