Broken Ford Escort rear springs. Here's an answer for you without a question

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 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.

"the springs had a plastic coating or sheath on them that apparently held water against them for some time "-

Do you suspect that the plastic coating hastened the spring failure - is that the point you are implying? Sounds like a seemingly good engineering idea … which backfired.

So the dealer in reality would ultimately have had to replace both spring/struts for a total of $900, which might have been hard to swallow for a 15 year old car. Unless someone could DIY it…for, say, about $57. Nice work! ;=)

I’ve seen some of those plastic coated springs suffering rust damage here in Oklahoma where rust is normally not that big an issue.
It sounds like you picked up a pretty nice little car though and 90k miles ain’t bad at all.

I had the same thing a couple of years ago with a '99 Escort. My trusted independent mechanic said it was a common problem. I don’t have the records any more, as we sold the car last September.

@WesternRoadtripper Yes I drfinitely think the plastic caused the problem. The new springs have a bubber cover that is loose fitting, and has slits in it to allow water to drain out. I’ve seen that arrangement on lots of cars over the years, but never before a coating like the Escort has.