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94 Ford Escort w/ 140,000 miles - Keep or Crush?

My 94 Ford Escort with 140,000 miles on it that I bought from my granny. I recently put new tires on it and now more problems… needs a new battery, new head gasket and a new timing belt at a cost of $1,000. I am a college student and short on cash but need wheels. So should i fix the Escort or send it to the crusher and look for a different car???

Well, you know the history of the Escort. You won’t find a car for $1000 that doesn’t have problems. Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t knowl The timing belt and battery are standard maintenance items.

The only thing that would make me hesitate would be the head gasket + age. With almost no trouble at all I put over 200K on a '91 Escort. I’d take that car again in a minute. Cheap and easy to care for. Reliable. Good on gas. (My niece ended up with it. It was still running when it left my possession).

$1000 for timing belt, battery AND head gasket - pretty good.

As Triedaq implied, you’re the one who knows the history so the real question is how is everything else? Brakes, suspension, cooling system? Maybe have a good mechanic look it all over to find out what major $$ items are next.

Don’t let them charge you any extra labor for the timing belt. At least the upper end has to be removed when they do the head gasket, and Escort belts are a piece of cake anyway. Shop for the best available price. Any good indy shop can do it.

A friend’s family once upon a time had an escort of this vintage and they drove it for a long, long time. $1000 total isn’t bad to have this done and now tires are one less thing to worry about. Motor on in this thing dude.

Actually, $1,000 for a battery, a timing belt and a head gasket sounds a little too good. Could it really be a valve cover gasket? Either way, it’s probably worth fixing, but a head gasket usually ends up costing more, because there are more gaskets, valves to be examined or ground, etc.

Head gaskets are frequently misdiagnosed so is it known for sure the gasket is bad?

What are the symptoms that led to this diagnosis?

Battery and timing belt I would say fix it; a head gasket is a toss-up.

Hey, what ever happened with your Escort? I have the same yr, model, mileage, and I have a leaking cooling system. I was told I need to do these same repairs: head gasket, timing belt, plus water pump.) However, I have no symptoms of the old timing belt wearing out-- the engine runs fine.
Does this make sense?

Everything here is routine maintenance except the headgasket> If that’s confirmed, I say fix it.

But I’m just “voting”. Others here have hit the technical reasons. I liked in particular Triedaq’s comment: you won’t find a $1000 car without problems. At least yours are known.

The only “symptom” of a bad timing belt is that the car will immediately shut down with absolutely no warning. Think of the belt as a toggle - its either off or its on - there is no in between. (Ok, on rare occasion a belt can jump a tooth, but that is rare and not what you wait for).

In your case you would be lucky b/c yours isn’t an interference engine - on interference designs the other immediate thing that happens is bent valves and thus a wrecked motor.

The only way to play the timing belt is to follow the time/mileage intervals. It won’t warn you.

The OP posted this last February and never came back…This is a dead thread…

Except for derekmgold (above mtnbike’s post)- who is the one who dug it up and resurrected it. At least s/he can locate and use a search feature (apparently)


You have reached my arbitrary mileage limit on Ford Escorts. If you are short of cash, you don’t have to get rid of it. If the head is cracked, a new one will add $300 to the bill.

I consider the Escort to be a disposable car. Repairs can be hit or miss on those things, especially if they put a cracked head back on it. A 94 Escort is worth $700 running.