General Maintenance Questions (long!): 99 Escort ZX2

Old 05-09-03, 01:43 PM
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General Maintenance Questions (long!): 99 Escort ZX2

Greetings again everyone,

99 Ford Escort ZX2, Zetec engine, 91k mi, a/c, p/s, p/b

Here is a very long question for you experts out there. I still owe on this car, but intend on driving it into the ground. With that in mind, I'd like to do my own general maintenance on this ride, but am wondering what your suggestions are as to the maintenance intervals on these items. Or perhaps I should do the old "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" thing...

Here goes; have some patience with me, as this will be a long post.

1. Timing belt replacement: should it be done? Haven't done so yet (I've owned it since 22k). Can I do this myself, or leave it to a shop?
2. Auto tranny fluid & filter replacement; necessary, or no? I just know if I take it to some shop, they'll say the trans is bad and want to replace it...
3. Coolant flush and replace; do this myself? I'm assuming I should use the new 100,000 mile coolant in this car.
4. Fuel filter; replace? Or just leave well enough alone?
5. Power steering fluid: drain & replace? Ditto for brake fluid.
6. An actual tune-up: what exactly does this mean on today's cars? Just a swap of plugs and wires? What else?
7. Rear brakes: I've done the front ones, but not these. They look to be a pain in the a**. Drums.
8. What oil should I use now that she's getting miles on her? Stick with the 5W30, go to the "older engine" oil I see in the stores, or even go synthetic? BTW, car does not appear to use or leak any oil currently.

And finally, what should I begin to look for as potential problems with this specific vehicle down the road? Of note, I'm still on the extended warranty, up to 100,000 miles, but the last time I took it in (at 70K), they didn't do a damn thing and wanted to charge me a boatload for general maintenance stuff (like coolant change, belt replacement, hose replacement, etc.). I will take it in one last time for them to look over before the warranty is up.

I realize there are a LOT of questions in this post, but I figured 1) that it would be better to ask them in one post instead of several small ones and 2) perhaps this question can benefit ALL car owners about general maintenance as well.

Thanks again.
Old 05-09-03, 02:06 PM
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Long and short of the whole thing:

1) Follow the maintenance schedule's "severe service" category for recommended maintenance. The car will last as long as possible that way.

2) If you plan on doing any work on the car, pick up the Ford OEM service manual. Contact links are in my signature file below. does the Ford manuals.

Synthetic oil is a total waste of money in a shoe like this. Zero benefit. Filters should be changed every 10k or so, including the fuel filter. Brakes as needed, use good quality stuff. Flush your coolant yearly. Belts and hoses every 4 years. Tranny fluid and filter every 25k. P/S fluid leave alone, and brake fluid can be flushed once every couple of years.

Tuneups are just filters, plugs and wires now a days. No more caps and rotors like in the past.

I think I covered most of the questions out there.
Old 05-09-03, 02:18 PM
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well, hot diggety da** Joe! That's a quick response, and well said. You took all the questions I had and "cut to the chase" much better than I could. I'll order the manual and begin having a maintenance festival as soon as I get it.

thanks again,
Old 05-10-03, 11:01 AM
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Sure thing. I just got the factory manual sets for my 84 Olds and 89 Cavalier. They are loaded with great tips and repair information on the car. No one should be without them!
Old 05-10-03, 08:39 PM
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I'll throw my 2 cents worth in.. Most of the stuff you mentioned, you should (based on how I read your message) be able to do your self. The timing belt, though I'd let somebody else handle. It's not an easy job, very tight space, and of course, critical that it's done correctly.
As for the brakes, I'm a safety nut.. If "you" aren't familiar with doing brakes, it might be safer to let someone else do them..Or have someone around that has done them to help out..
I do agree with Joe.. Routine maintenance will do wonders for keeping your car alive for many years!! What's that old commercial?? "You can pay me now, or you can pay me later".. Was about replacing/using fram filters I think....
Old 05-11-03, 12:46 PM
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Yup, it was Fram.

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