Piston Slap: Escort Service, or Lack Thereof

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap escort service or lack thereof

TTAC Commentator Sinistermisterman writes:

I have a 1997 Ford Escort (Manual) with far too many miles on the clock. If I’m particularly harsh with the gear changes, I get a clunk every time the revs drop off. I’m guessing this may be the engine/transmission mounts wearing out. Now if they are wearing out, can I just be gentle from now on and not worry about it? Only I really don’t want to spend much on the car. The reason I ask is that when I used to live in the UK I had a 1996 European Ford Escort and the rather puny rear engine mount broke (after thrashing it mercilessly)… and the engine tried to twist its way out of the car in a rather spectacular fashion. Are the engine mounts on US Escorts equally as weak/rubbish as the European versions?

Sajeev Answers:

There are “far too many miles on the clock?” Thanks for that technical description. I kid, I kid! You might have a love, then thrash, then hate relationship with your Escort. And that’s cool with me. Don’t get nickel’d and dimed on this car, drive it into the ground. Eventually the motor (or some other expensive component) will die and you’ll lose interest. New engine mounts are for lovingly cared cars or old Trucks/SUVs that see a fair amount of towing. Or if you start hearing terrifying metal-on-metal noises, of course.

Don’t worry about it for now, baby the shifter to maximize the car’s useful life. I have no clue about the durability of Escort (US or otherwise) engine mounts, but I suspect that doesn’t matter. Any small displacement, mainstream car with a transaxle simply aren’t designed to handle a “merciless thrashing”, to use your words. It takes me back to the heydays of the Sport Compact car, and how many of my neighbors spent weekends replacing halfshafts. Or differentials. Or transaxles. It sure looked like a PITA from my vantage point.

Bonus! A Piston Slap Nugget of Wisdom:

There are worse things in life than being a car abuser. So if you chose this path, do yourself a favor: buy a 4th Generation Camaro or Firebird and have a frickin’ blast. It’s engine (small block Chebbie), transmission (Borg Warner T-56), and live axle (GM 12-bolt, I think) are very close to bulletproof. I’ll take an earlier Firebird T/A with the mullet worthy T-tops and those cool center-mount foglights/covered headlights. Bitchin.

Don’t believe me? Just look at what the owners are doing to the precious independent suspension of the new, 5th Generation, Camaro. Kickin’ it old school, uber alles baby!

Send your queries to mehta@ttac.com

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2 of 21 comments
  • Golden2husky Golden2husky on Jun 28, 2010

    I just did the engine mount on my old Stable. The movement of the engine was way too much to leave it. Leaving things like that are not my style either. Anyway, the Israeli made replacement cost $50 from Rock Auto (The Rock Rocks!). Install took about 35 minutes. Should be good for another 18 years! BTW, many cars have premium quality mounts and cheap "compromise" mounts available. Price is often less than half the cheapos. Usually I would say go with the better, but in this case the cheapie might be the ticket.

  • Oldyak Oldyak on Jun 29, 2010

    I think The amount needed to replace the motor mount would be about a third of a single car payment Old cars require small check writing...New cars require LARGE check writing.

  • Charles I had one and loved it . Seated 7 people . Easy to park , great van
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