What model year was the first "reliable" Escort

My brother had a mid 90s model that went 300,000 miles before it gave out. He never had the engine apart. It eventually used a lot of oil, then was wrecked. Early models weren't near as good. Does anyone know
what year they became reliable? I have a chance to buy a 1986 model for $200, but I am leary of the early ones.
Gary in IN
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I had a 1990 1.9L, 3 door, that went 250,000 kms with just normal maintenance and a timing belt every 100,000 km. It needed a clutch replacement around 190 k and the head gasket around 220 k, but after the head gasket was replaced, that car ran like a top. Could not ask for a better winter FWD car, would go anywhere even with all season tires.
Sharky
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The first year, 82... unless you count the "premature head gasket failure" I had.
Got water-lock and yet after I got it started, drove it thirty miles home, where I pulled the head and changed the gasket...first experience with overhead cam and somehow had no probs. Never a hint of bearing knock.
Next failure was a year after I had the Water Pump changed by local shop, when the bearing on the repl WP went out and the valves were trashed. All told had it 5 years and 180,000 miles and no other major repairs.
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The first year, 82... unless you count the "premature head gasket failure" I had.
Got water-lock and yet after I got it started, drove it thirty miles home, where I pulled the head and changed the gasket...first experience with overhead cam and somehow had no probs. Never a hint of bearing knock.
Next failure was a year after I had the Water Pump changed by local shop, when the bearing on the repl WP went out and the valves were trashed. All told had it 5 years and 180,000 miles and no other major repairs.
--
Yeh, I'm a Krusty old Geezer, putting up with my 'smartass' is the price
you pay..DEAL with it!
  Click to see the full signature.
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Backyard Mechanic wrote:

Those 82-90 Escorts were actually great little cars. They just wouldn't tolerate lack of maintenence, especially the cooling system. It wasn't unusual to see them wih 150-200K on the clock. Like Sharky said, they were fantastic in snow. Many of the head gasket\cracked head failures were caused by overheating due to a failed cooling fan temp sender. Running the water pump off the cam belt was a good idea, sort of. But it's hard to get people used to the idea that the belt AND the pump should be replaced every 40K miles even if they aren't causing a problem. In the late 80s-early 90s when these were viable used cars, I would cruise the dealer trade in lines and indy used car lots to find the ones with head gasket or other problems. They could be had cheap because the dealers didn't want to fix them. About $200 in parts and a weekend of work, I could sell the car a week later for a nice profit. I probably turned about 50 of them during that time.
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1985. I say this because it was the firt year they made them with a non-interference engine (so engine not destroyed if timing belt broke), plus you could get them with fuel injection. I had one with the 1.6L engine and ran it until it needed a new engine after 11 years and 168,000 miles. Still had the original belts and hoses in it (except timing belt) when I junked it.
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actually http://www.feoa.net is probably a better place to ask this question.
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On Wed, 04 Jan 2006 13:04:57 -0500, Tom Adkins

When it comes to cheap transportation, NOTHING beats an Escort - particularly the Mazda based units. My brother's kids all drive Escorts. His son cracked up the 95 wagon with over 300,000km on it - after driving the crap out of it for 7 years. Not bad for a $2500 car. He's got a ZX2 now. Both daughters are driving escorts too. Lowest insurance cost of any car in Canada. Definitely lower maintenance than my daughter's Neon.
Being basically a Mazda 323/Protege, and selling for roughly HALF the price of the Mazda on the 5 year old used market.
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and >> a timing belt every 100,000 km. Could not ask for a better winter FWD car, would go anywhere even with all season tires. Have the same car in the GT version, have to agree with you 100%. I've driven through at least a foot of snow in this car.
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I had a 1985. Although I do not generally keep my vehicles more than two years, that 85 was passed on to my children and eventually my grand children, who run it to well over 300,000 miles before it was parted out. Having said that, there is no guarantee that ANY used car, of any brand, was given the proper maintenance it need or that it was not abused by its previous owner(s) For $200 however any car that will last six months is a bargain ;)
mike hunt

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Honestly, I think all the Escorts got a bad rap early on, and I don't think there was much reason for it. People seem to knock little cars when they were first introduced, but a lot of them turned out to be really reliable, if short on creature comfort.
People I know have put as many as 550k miles on one. No, I'm not kidding. One friend bought one for his wife in 1984 and she drove it until about 2 years ago. Even then, the only problem was an ignored condensate drain that caused moisture to rust out the passenger side floorpan.
I had a 1997, which is the last generation Escort they made. It was BY FAR, the best car I've ever had. I owned it for 135k miles, and traded it simply because my family outgrew it. I really should have kept the thing. Even when I traded it, I had never had to add a drop of any fluid or lube. To be honest, in its early days, I didn't even change the oil as often as I should have. As far as maintenance, I had to replace the front brake pads at 95k miles. At that time, the back shoes still had half their life left.
I highly recommend them.
CJB

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Being tied in with the world's oldest profession I don't think anyone can count back that far.
Sorry, revisited this tread and it struck me...
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