I bought a very pristine (if there is such a thing) one owner, 90K mile, '98 Ford Escort this week that looked darn near perfect. It was always dealer serviced, kept in a garage every night, perfect original paint, no rust anywhere, nearly new tires and brakes, with receipts for EVERYTHING including a new timing belt about 5000 miles back. It’s one of those cars that just doesn’t come up very often.
The single 50ish lady owner was selling because the dealer told her that it was unsafe to drive because it had a broken left rear spring. She didn’t want to spend the $450 to fix it, and opted for a new car. Unfortunately for the Ford dealer, she opted for a new Mazda for cash. She told me what the dealer had said. I drove it home anyway.
No problem. I can get a good used strut assembly from a salvage yard. I looked at www.car-part.com and found several struts in my area. Then I started calling. Five salvage yards later, every salvage yard had found that ALL of their Escorts had a broken rear spring on that side. No problem, I’ll just buy new struts with the springs attached. Problem, that’s expensive.
This afternoon I put two brand new springs on the car. $57 from Autozone along with a “rented” spring compressor which was free since I returned it. As it turned out, BOTH of them were broken, one in two places. This is not the rust belt, but the springs had a plastic coating or sheath on them that apparently held water against them for some time, like since 1998.
A little while ago I googled Ford Escort broken spring. Apparently this is VERY common. Several posters said that their springs had been broken for several thousand miles. Apparently it’s not all that unsafe, unless part of the broken spring protrudes into a rear tire.