Can my 1998 Ford Escort be saved?

When I turn on my car, it starts to do hesitation after 2-3 minutes,then it runs fine after that. Then it can not do 3-4 stops. Like when I go home from work which is about 30 mins drive,then I went to the post office which about 10 mins, then walmart; it won’t start. I have to wait for about 5 mins before starting it again,and keep stepping on the gas to keep it running while parking. Then after about a minute, engine runs fine. I brought it to the mechanic and he changed the spark plug cables and one of the fuel injectors. He said the fourth plug isn’t firing right. The ignition coil was newly replaced. Then he called me home and said that there is nothing he can do about my car’s problem. He towed it home because he said it is no longer safe to drive. When he left, I tried to turn the engine on. It got worst, it will not turn on unless you keep pushing on the gas. It was better before, because I can turn the engine on when it is cold, then just wait for about 2-3 minutes before it runs fine. Now, I have to keep pushing gas, because it will die if I let go of it. I want to know if this car can still be fixed.

So your mechanic who had eyes and hands on your car said there is nothing he can do and it is unsafe to drive. Now you want us to give you good news.

This car gave 20 years of service, time to move on and get something else.

Well, not by him certainly. This car needs a competent diagnostician to test it when is doesn’t drive normally. The fact that the car can’t be started unless you dance on the gas pedal makes me suspect fuel delivery, but there are a lot of things that would have to be tested. Does it help if you remove the cas cap, what is the fuel pressure when it acts up and when it is running fine, how is the fuel filter, are you sure it is all gasoline in the tank. Is your engine running hot, or cold? Are your temp sensor, throttle position sensor, map sensor ok. How about your computer and all the wiring connections, Are there any vacuum leaks. Is your throttle body dirty, do you have a bad intake manifold gasket or clogged exhaust? How about your egr system?

Are you beginning to see why this can’t be diagnosed via internet?


It sounds like there’s a problem with the idle air control circuit/throttle body with the engine.

There’s component on the throttle body called the Idle Air Control valve.

This device is what controls the idle of the engine whenever the throttle pedal is released.

One of the signs that there’s a problem with this component is, the engine won’t idle unless the accelerator pedal is stepped on.

The hesitation might be due to a dirty throttle body.

Here’s what I would try.

Clean the throttle body and the IAC valve to see if it helps.

If not, then I would replace the IAC valve.



This sounds to me like a fuel pump/fuel pressure regulator problem, or possibly a throttle body/idle air control problem. Certainly not something worth junking a car over, unless it’s in poor condition and/or has super high miles.

Also, your “mechanic’s” explanation does not make sense for the symptoms. If one cylinder isn’t firing, either due to lack of spark, or due to poor compression, the problem will be most noticeable at idle/low RPMs, but will not go away as the engine warms up.

I would find someone more competent to look at it.

Mine was a 1984 Ford Escort, and maybe this is the same as mentioned above said in a different way, but I had the same exact problems, and it took 3 mechanics (including my Dad, who was a great mechanic, but retired and didn’t have any diagnostic equipment aside from his ears and a timing gun)

It turned out to be a problem with Vacuum Advance. I’n not a mechanic, so I can’t explain it beyond that.

As you can tell OP, there’s lots of possibilities. It’s going to take some diagnostic time to figure it out. I’m presuming your mechanic told you they can’t do anything to help b/c you mentioned to them you have budget limitations. This problem can almost certainly be diagnosed and fixed, but it might turn out to be fairly expensive, which is the motivation above for suggesting to consider to swap to a newer model car.

If you’d like my guess too as to what the problem is, I’d start with reading out the diagnostic codes, then move on to the idle air control idea above, then if that’s not it, test the egr system.