Our '97 Escort, 2.0 SPI engine recently succumbed at 121k miles to the well known, dreaded 'Dropped #4 Valve Seat' fatal engine defect particular to this poorly designed powerplant.
ALL '97-'04 Ford vehicles using this engine are at risk of this happening as they approach 100k miles. Most consumer reviews of this problem claim it happened abruptly between 100k and 130k. It even afflicts vehicles that have been meticulously maintained by their owners!
The steel valve seats pressed into the aluminum head of these engines expand and contract at different rates, eventually loosening. WHEN (not if) this happens, it's like dropping a grenade into your engine!
Shame on you, Ford!!!
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