1999 Ford Escort ZX2 Tuneup problems


Old 05-14-03, 09:46 AM
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1999 Ford Escort ZX2 Tuneup problems

Hi all,

Well, had a little trouble performing a tuneup this morning on my 99 ZX2 (2.0 L Zetec, A/C. P/S, P/B, auto). Looked like the tuneup was to be an easy one; all I intended on doing was replacing the plug wires and plugs, but now I'm not sure what I need to do next. I replaced the original plugs with Bosch Platinum+4s, and a Bosch Premium Wire Set. The plugs are pre-gapped, and can't be adjusted, since there are four electrodes that come to the center, so I didn't have to mess with that. All went well and was very simple (the plugs are VERY easy to get to; right at the top-front of the engine bay), but something's awry and I don't know what. I used anti-seize lube on the threads, and the silicone goo-lube on the boots themselves; I changed each plug and wire one at a time and double-checked to make sure they were routed properly to the ignition. Sooooo, here's my problem. When I first started the car, the engine was stumbling badly; I thought that maybe the car's computer needed to adjust itself for the new plugs, so I took it for a short test-drive. Here's what happened there; car seemed to be "missing" and then the "Service Engine Soon" light began flashing at me. It would do that for awhile, stay on permanently, then flash at me again. For the life of me, I couldn't figure out what was wrong. Mad as hell, I decided to give up for awhile, then I reseated all of the plug wires on the plugs and the ignition while removing the excess goo from the boots on the inside. The car now is no longer stumbling (it looked like it was vibrating in the engine bay before, but doesn't now) and seems to be driving fine, HOWEVER, two things have cropped up. One is that the "Service Engine Soon" light is staying permanently on, and two, the car wants to idle high (around 1500 rpm) and I can't pull it out of high-idle by simply hitting the gas pedal. Is it going to take awhile for the computer to "relearn" everything? Should I reset the computer by removing the negative battery cable, and if so, how long do I have to leave it off in order for the computer to "reset"? And how do I get that damn "Service Engine Soon" light to go off?

Thanks in advance,
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Old 05-14-03, 10:09 AM
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Make sure you didn't damage any coil terminals in the process.

Also I suggest you pitch those wires in favor of a better aftermarket or OEM Motorcraft ones.
Old 05-14-03, 07:31 PM
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If if were me, I'd be checking for a ported vacuum leak. If you have accidentally disconnected a vacuum line, then that would let air in, bypassing the throttle. The computer compensates for this 'extra air/stumbling' condition by keeping the engine running. It does this by pumping in more gas, thus the high idle. In addition to this, the computer would calculate that the air/fuel ratio is way off and this would set off trouble codes for sure.

In short, I would guess that you have accidentally disconnected something that is not easily visible from peering into the engine compartment.
Old 05-17-03, 12:54 PM
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Well, I thought I'd fixed the damn thing by removing the negative battery cable and resetting the computer. Umm, that helped all week, until today. The "Service Engine Soon" light has come on permanently now. The car is running much better, but is idling high (but not as high as normal) at around 1200 (so I would guess from the tach in the car). I'd like to get the codes, but my Auto Zone in town "won't do that for me today; they're too busy." Granted, it's a Saturday, but I'm not gonna spend $150 for a damn code reader!!! The AutoBone guy claims that I probably should replace the 02 sensor as well, as that could be causing the problem. Naturally, it's in a real bad position for the DIYer to replace. I have checked, double-checked, triple-checked and quardruple-checked everything in the engine bay to see if anything is loose; it all appears normal. Lugnut, I will look in my big Chilton's manual for the vacuum routings to see if somehow I loosened something that I just can't "see" right now. Otherwise, guess I'll find an AutoBone that can read the codes for me, and go from there...

One final note, the mileage has went to doo-doo. I'm at less than 1/4 tank left and only 180 miles! This car normally goes about 300 before my low-fuel light comes on.
Old 05-18-03, 06:53 AM
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Call around to other AZ stores in the area and ask if you can make an appointment to come in and have it read for you. This way they will be ready when you arrive.

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