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Ford Escort 91 : won't start... is it worth fixing?

Hi there.

My wife recently purchased a Ford Escort 91’ and it has been trouble since she bought it.

First the heating stopped working, then the defrosters. The light kept coming on to check the anti-freeze but even after it was cleaned out and replaced it would come off and on at its desire.

Finally, after parking the car to go to a bar, it gave in all together.

The lights all work but it won’t start.

I noticed the battery cable was corroded and cleaned it and made sure all teh nuts and bolts were tight around the starter but it still won’t start.

On the inside of the car you can hear a buzz for a few seconds after you turn the key, but that stops after a few seconds.

When you listen under the hood something clicks as you try to start then stops.

Is it just the starter? Is it worth having it towed to a garage and having someone fix it, or is it a sign of something worse and should we use the tax refund to buy another car?

Thank you very much for any advice,


I think you have a dead battery. Well, not you, but your wife’s Escort.

The clicking indicates a nearly-dead battery. Yes, I know, the lights come on, etc. That doesn’t matter. The battery will work the lights even when it’s too weak to start the engine. Have you tried jump-starting it?

How many miles on this Escort?

I’m assuming the heat and defrost issues have been taken care of. Escorts are generally pretty reliable, but the car is 18 years old, and you didn’t tell us how many miles it has.

The mileage would be good to know before we can advise further.

Since your not mechanically inclined, even a minor job, such as changing a starter, is cost prohibitive with an 18-year old car with other known problems. And, I do believe it is the starter, since all the lights go on, and I assume stay fairly bright when you try to start it.

I’m also assuming you purchased this car cheap as a disposable car. If you want to keep doing this, you may want to look into some basic car maintenance classes at a local community college, or start hanging out with some car guys. If you can do some of the simple stuff yourself, it would make small problems these disposable cars worht fixing.

How old is the battery? 5-6 years? Yea time for a new battery. That is the same for all cars. Under $100. Don’t assume it is the battery, most places will check them for free. Most are honest about checking them.

In terms of the starter/battery problem I don’t have much to add over what others have said.

I’ll just note that I got an easy 200K out of a '91 Escort - basic maintenance and normal wear & tear repairs and that stupid little thing just ran and ran. Solid little car.

However, I’ll just ditto what BustedKnuckles had to say. At its age (and we still don’t know the mileage) it will drive you crazy unless you start to do a lot with it yourself. If the car hasn’t been completely abused, and if I were you, just looking to stretch out the dollars put into buying it, I’d get the car home, buy a repair manual, roll up my sleeves and get to work.

Thanks for all the help!
I just moved here from Scotland and I’m only just learning how to drive at the moment. (At 25!) My wife’s been driving since she was 15 but has nee leaned much about the engines.
I’ve had a go with the repair manual and done all i feel capable of doing so far. It’s set in stone that I’ll be taking a basic car repair class within the next few months.

The car was bought under the assumption it’d be reliable. (The advice of my mother-in-law’s friend who fixes up old roadsters and said it was a great deal and would run an run.)
My wife is a social worker and has to use her car to get around, so she needs something that can keep going. I’m still not sure about the mileage but I think for the moment we’ll take it in and get what we can fixed with the tax return and plan to buy an approved used for her in the next few months after I’ve saved my pennies.
That way I can keep the Ford for my own use and hopefully learn a little more about fixing it.

Thanks again for all of the great advice!