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Maintenance while head is off?

So I had a odd misfire/idle issue with my '99 ford escort wagon at 113k miles. At first I thought it was an IAC valve thing, but after replacing that it didn’t improve. After I had a really bad misfire one day on the way to work I decided to take it to a mechanic. They couldn’t see anything wrong, but suggested to remove the head as they could hear some chatter under moderate throttle and informed me I could have or be in immediate danger of the dreaded “dropped valve seat” issue. I took the car home on a flatbed car carrier and took the engine head off and into a machine shop to look it over. Turns out I barely escaped the dropped valve seat issue (the machinist said one of them fell off while he was washing it!), and I had the head more or less “rebuilt”.

My question is, i’ll be reinstalling the head (cost me $550 to rebuild), this weekend and was wondering if there is anything else I should do while the top half of the engine is taken out. I plan on cleaning out the EGR valve, changing out the thermostat, and replacing the timing belt, but is there anything else anyone would recommend as scheduled “maintenance”/trouble spots? Also, about 4 weeks before I stopped driving the car I had the spark plugs, wires, fuel filter, transmission fluid, and radiator fluid changed/flushed. lastly, note that I have a new Subaru Outback on order so in reality this car only needs to run for about five more weeks, but if I sell it I figure it would be nice to be up on maintenance so i don’t sell a ‘bum’ car. I feel like I’m doing most of everything I can, but any suggestions are welcome!

I think you have it all covered, especially if only keeping it short term.
How did the cylinder bores look? No ridges I hope.
Is the valve lash adjustable? I would re-check it after a few hundred miles.

Cylinder bores look and feel nice and smooth. Not sure about the valve lash though. I’ll have to look into that…

If the head came back with the cam installed then the valve lash should be set by the machine shop or there are hydraulic lifters…

I assume that you’ll just clean up all of the bits that had to come off before reinstalling them. E.g. the IMRC module will be caked with carbon. The throttle body is off so that can become pristine.

Right now is by far the easiest time to inspect and clean up the cable connections at the starter, sitting at the back of the block the way it does. If there’s any reason to suspect you might want to replace those cables, now is also the ideal time.

Its also the easiest time to replace the two heater hoses.

I assume you’ll do a new tensioner with the timing belt? Water pump? How does the crank seal look?

The machine shop should absolutely deal with the cam adjustment & then the lifters are hydraulic so you shouldn’t have to adjust a thing about the valves.

Trainman 37–It’s great that you are putting the Escort in good shape for the next owner.

Yes, The valves will come adjusted from the shop.
But with new/resurfaced valves and seats I like to re-check the lash later.

Looked at the car last night. The water pump seems far too complicated to take off so I’ll leave that be. The Idler/tensioner will be done when we do the timing belt. Not sure about or even how to check the lash, but hopefully it isn’t that big of a deal.

I’m hoping I can get the car put back together this weekend so I can take it on a eight hour trip next weekend to Disneyland (probably not advisable, but going to try if I feel comfortable enough with it after a week of work driving)

Oh yeah, and Triedaq. I really have enjoyed this car, and if I’m going to get rid of it, I’d like it to give good service to the next owner. From what I’ve read these cars are fairly reliable/long running if the valve seat problem is taken care of, so hopefully with this maintenance the car can easily go another 100k!

Once you have the timing belt off & the cooling system drained the water pump should be a simple matter of a few bolts - though I admit that I did the head on my '97 for exactly this reason and didn’t replace the water pump. The fact is that a) I do my own timing belts and b) the timing belt on this car is so simple that if the pump decided to have a problem I really don’t think of it as a big deal to get to it. But its true that it is staring you right in the face at the moment ready to pull of & put on.

If the machine shop does their job you really should not have to mess with the valve lash.

I agree the water pump should be changed. If the water pump seizes it’s not going to matter whether the timing belt is old or new it will be damaged. Also if you don’t replace the water pump now it may go out in the next few months or year then you’d be doing all this work again.

That is true. However, I would just be replacing it with a re-manufactured one, which who knows if that would be any better. Also this car isn’t known to have water pump issues and I’ve been diligent with keeping the radiator fluid flushed at regular intervals. Yes it would only be about $35 + time, but it’s tough to justify since I’m already over my 1k budget to fix this with everything else I’ve put into it. Every $30 part does continue to add up.

I own 5 Escorts and even though they aren’t know to have a high rate of premature water pump failure it does happen. I just changed the water pump on my '94 last summer, it had been on the car less than 100K miles. I tried skipping the water pump replacement a couple times on my '88 Pony and the bearing in the pump wore out and seized before the next timing belt interval was due. I’ve since started changing the water pump when I change the timing belt. It only adds a small amount of time to the repair as opposed to a few hours if everything is back together and if you buy a new water pump at Auto Zone ($50.99), slightly higher initial cost, but it comes with a lifetime warranty, therefore a one time purchase with free replacements as long as you own the car. I’ve got one of their water pumps on my '88 Pony, the car is 24 years old and has 518,500 miles and still running, even though I now change the pump with every timing belt change it was a one time cost as with many of the parts I’ve replaced on it with lifetime warranty parts.