'98 Escort ZX2 Extremely Rough Idle, Stalling

I have a '98 (stock) ZX2 with 170,000 trouble free miles (really). Suddenly started running rough last week. My wife drove it home one day, the next morning
I went to use it and it took a few more cranks than normal to start. Went out for awhile and it ran fine on the highway. Stopped somewhere, came out and started it up. Idle is so rough the whole car shakes. I tuned it up (replaced plugs, wires, PCV valve, fuel filter, air filter). Still ran rough, so I suspected the coil pack. Replace that. No change. Suspected fuel injectors so I got a can of Prestone injector cleaner. Ran it in the drive way for awhile. Idle smoothed out to normal. Took it for a ride, and came back. Idle is back to being very rough. Still runs excellent on the highway though...had it up to 80 after cleaning the injectors. The exhaust has a heavy smell of sulfur. Over the past three years, the check engine light would come on and set code P1383 for variable cam shaft over retarded. The light is on now and the same code is present, but was also on when it ran fine.....I am still thinking injectors considering the mileage...and it strange that it idled fine for a little while after injector cleaning...any ideas ? This vehicle has no EGR system (function of the VCT),or Fuel pressure regulator, just a pressure sensor being a returnless system........there are no other codes present in the system .....need help on this one...
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next morning I went to use it and it took a few more cranks than normal to start. Went out for awhile and it ran fine on the highway. Stopped somewhere, came out and started it up. Idle is so rough the whole car shakes. I tuned it up (replaced plugs, wires, PCV valve, fuel filter, air filter). Still ran rough, so I suspected the coil pack. Replace that. No change. Suspected fuel injectors so I got a can of Prestone injector cleaner. Ran it in the drive way for awhile. Idle smoothed out to normal. Took it for a ride, and came back. Idle is back to being very rough. Still runs excellent on the highway though...had it up to 80 after cleaning the injectors. The exhaust has a heavy smell of sulfur. Over the past three years, the check engine light would come on and set code P1383 for variable cam shaft over retarded. The light is on now and the same code is present, but was also on when it ran fine.....I am still thinking injectors considering the mileage...and it strange that it idled fine for a little while after injector cleaning...any ideas ? This vehicle has no EGR system (function of the VCT),or Fuel pressure regulator, just a pressure sensor being a returnless system........there are no other codes present in the system .....need help on this one...

the idle stepper motor/idle control motor.
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Have you checked for vacuum and air leaks? Have you cleaned the MAF sensor?
Have you serached the internet for code the code the computer has been storing and done some research on it?
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How about water in one cylinder? Did you check your coolant level and oil?
C.
I have a '98 (stock) ZX2 with 170,000 trouble free miles (really). Suddenly started running rough last week. My wife drove it home one day, the next morning I went to use it and it took a few more cranks than normal to start. Went out for awhile and it ran fine on the highway. Stopped somewhere, came out and started it up. Idle is so rough the whole car shakes. I tuned it up (replaced plugs, wires, PCV valve, fuel filter, air filter). Still ran rough, so I suspected the coil pack. Replace that. No change. Suspected fuel injectors so I got a can of Prestone injector cleaner. Ran it in the drive way for awhile. Idle smoothed out to normal. Took it for a ride, and came back. Idle is back to being very rough. Still runs excellent on the highway though...had it up to 80 after cleaning the injectors. The exhaust has a heavy smell of sulfur. Over the past three years, the check engine light would come on and set code P1383 for variable cam shaft over retarded. The light is on now and the same code is present, but was also on when it ran fine.....I am still thinking injectors considering the mileage...and it strange that it idled fine for a little while after injector cleaning...any ideas ? This vehicle has no EGR system (function of the VCT),or Fuel pressure regulator, just a pressure sensor being a returnless system........there are no other codes present in the system .....need help on this one...
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Turns out it was the VCT (Variable Camshaft Timing)solenoid. Check engine lamp was burned out. Code was 1380 (Camshaft Timing Over Retarded). I changed the oil with synthetic 5w30, cycled the vct as described in my Alldata DIY susbscription. VCT cycled and vehicle is running beatiful now, but has code 1381 present in memory. I plan to replace the VCT as soon as the weather warms up around here......research suggests this is a very common item that fails on ZETEC engines.
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