I got my first car, a 2001 Ford Escape XLT 2WD back in May. It has been running like a charm, however I have noticed a few issues. I may just be paranoid, as I know little about cars and what is considered 'normal' operating.
First: My engine idles at around 900RPM when in park. When I drop it into Drive, it goes down to 300-500RPM. The gauge isn't jumpy, it sits steady there but that seems a bit low to me and I don't remember it always being that low. Again, I may be imaging a problem.
Second: When I turn my wheel, it at times makes a 'clunking' sound. Like a 'clunk clunk clunk' when turning it. This comes and goes, and from what I have picked up, seems to happen more when it is hot outside (80+ degrees maybe). It will happen for a while, then the next morning it will not do it at all. Any ideas on this?
Third: The engine doesn't seem to have the kick it used to (a few months back). When I am stopped on a flat surface and release the brake, it starts to slowly roll forward, but it is very slow, maybe 2MPH without applying any gas on a flat surface. I am wondering if this has to do with the low RPM's when in park and not applying gas. If I recall correctly it used to roll at around 5-7MPH without gas before. And if there is even a slight incline it often won't roll in drive at all.
When accelerating it also appears to have lost its kick. It still reaches good speeds but the gas needs to be pressed down much further than before. When I first got the vehicle, people always said I accelerated too fast, because just pressing the gas a little would take it to 20MPH quickly. Now, it takes a lot more pressing on the gas to get it up to speed.
And once going a good speed, when I release the gas it almost feels like the car is applying breaks. It doesn't coast very well after a few seconds. Say I am going 40MPH, the vehicle will coast fine when I let go of the gas as long as the engine stays above 1500RPM, once it hits 1000RPM it starts to slow quickly, 2MPH a second roughly, then the RPM's drop back to 300-500 when I am stopped.
Sorry for the rambling list of questions. As a college student I don't really want to take it to ford and pay $100+ for a diagnostic alone if I am just going crazy and there are no problems. And if there are issues, I would like to have some general ideas of what may be going wrong before I bring it to the mechanics, so they don't give me a laundry list off issues and try to rip me off.
I'd say a tune up is in order to cure the engine brake problem. I'd make sure that you're not consuming any engine fluids (engine oil, transmission oil, coolant) to cancel several things off my list. The front end clunk you speak off could be several things. It's more than likely tie-rod ends that can be easily replaced at minimal cost. Be sure that the front suspension is also tight and in good standing order or replacing front end parts will be a waste of time (especially if the shocks/struts are shot), tie-rods and ball joints will have a shorter life span. Ball joints aren't the cheapest to replace either. You can check for any wheel bearing issues yourself: jack up the front wheels and tilt the tire towards you on the hub. If the tire/wheel rocks sideways then the bearing is bad.
When I say tune-up, be sure to get new spark plugs (Champion, NGK & Autolite are the more popular and respected brands), spark plug wires and do a timing check. You can also try running seafoam or Auto-RX (search online). These are two of the better known carbon and sludge fighters in the automotive industry.
Low rpms at idle could be one of two things (or both). The IAC (idle air controller) sensor and the throttle position sensor (TPS). They can be found at NAPA or any other hardware store for around $30-50 depending on brand name (any will do).
This is an older post - I wonder how it turned out.
re .1 Checking fluids - good advice. Check the owners manual, it may be that your vehicle is due for transfer case fluid change, rear differential and transmission fluid.
Most folks ignore these things and they will ultimately pay for it in the long run.
Tie rod ends - My check is to just grab the front wheel on each side and try to twist it left then right then left. If you get any "clunking" is if often the tie rod. A badly worn rod end will also result in uneven tire wear (sometimes a scalloped edge).
Spark plugs - the factory change interval is something like 100,000 MILES. I did mine at 125,000 KM, but really they looked very good. The rear three (v6) are not easy to get at - you have to remove the upper intake manifold. Be ready with new gaskets (reasonbly priced at any auto parts store - but they may not be in stock as many mechanics don't bother).
The V6 is a coil-on-plug so there is no plug wire per se. As far as a "timing check" - sorry this is done from a crank trigger and there is no check or adjustment available to you or the dealer.
The Idle Air Controll motor is NOT cheap (in Canada anyway) and the TPS is definitely NOT your problem.
Don't go throwing parts at it hoping to fix it. Take some time to understand the problem and fix it once.
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I understand what you are saying about the "rolling forward" speed. Mine is funny that way too. In part, what I notice is in the power steering pressure sensor. Shift into drive, release the brake and after a few seconds move the steering wheel slightly. The PS pressure sensor tells the computer to bump the RPM by a few hundred to compensate for the load of the PS pump. The computer does this by changing the amount that the IAC is open - in affect, pressing on the gas.
By the way, if when you start it up cold the RPM go up to say 1500 or 2000 and then settles down, this is being done via IAC openning commands from the ECU. If this happens, then the IAC is likely fine.
Getting back to the PS sensor - the funny thing is that the computer is watching the RPM trying to maintain something based on the TPS value, temperature and so on. It should be able to maintain this RPM in a steady state without any problem. The increased load presented by the PS pressure should be compensated for by the ECU without having to increase the engine RPM. By doing so, the vehicle becomes somewhat unruly when parking, because every time you move the wheel, the idle changes and the vehicle tends to surge.
Frankly, I'd love to take the guy who wrote the ECU program for a drive and provide a little feedback.
Anyway, the clunking when you turn the wheel...
1) is this a "dry" turn - ie: vehicle not moving? I was recently teaching my 16 year old to parallel park and would often get nasty sounds if he hit the stops when trying to turn too hard. When I park it I don't go as far and it is quiet.
2) If you are rolling along, it may be the CV joints.
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