I have exactly the same problem with our '95 escort. It starts up just fine, drives fine for a while, then for no reason it will start doing that while sitting at a stop light. It idles really low and shakes a little then picks up just enough to keep it going, then does it over again.
Well, actually it used to do that! Now it just dies. It's gotten so bad that if you put the clutch in for any reason and let it idle on it's own, it will just stall within a few seconds.
I'm heading this problem off right as we speak. I just came in from outside after having started simple and replaced the fuel filter. Next will be the fuel pump (as per Vlad's suggestion) and then then I'll move on to the idle controller stuff.
I'm guessing it will come down to that because this past summer we've noticed that when it's been hot, the idle starts to go up and up and up and up while the clutch was in. It would practically red-line the tach if I would have let it. I would have to shut the car off, and restart it.
Update...the fuel filter wasn't it at all. Figured I'd start off with the really easy stuff. After reading up on this forum (and I thank everyone for all the information they've given) I'm going to go ahead and replace the Idle Air Control Valve. It seems 1/5 of all posts here deal with this situation. No one in this area had any handy so they ordered for it and will be here tomorrow. It looks simple enough to change.
If anyone has any advice on changing this out, please let me know!
Last edited by springthing; 09-12-03 at 12:28 PM.