Escort 1.8D van, low power

4 Oct 2005
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United Kingdom
I have an Escort Van with lower than normal power throughout the rev range, though especially poor at low to medium revs.
The model is 1.8D normally aspirated, 1999 (V) with 120,000 miles.
I only have a little history as follows:-
1. It has been like this since I bought it a year ago at 108,000 miles.
2. It sounds rattly, though it runs smoothly.
3. I have had the (mechanical) injection and cam timing checked, no faults found. It's the Lucas pump & injectors.
4. A (used) set of belts and pulleys were found in the back on purchase, leading to action 3 above.
5. All fuel, oil, and air filters have been changed, no improvement.
6. Fuel pump has been checked on a rig, no faults found.
7. Fuel consumption is about 40mpg, even at light loading/ low speeds.
8. Engine noise seems quieter when under braking!

From point 8 above I have considered investigating around the EGR valve (if it has one!), though I am not sure whether this can affect power in this way - any learned views on this?

I have suspicions that the cam belt may have broken and the previous owner changed it without checking for bent valves. Again could this be a possible, and is it a major job to check the clearances; I've had the cam cover off and it appears to be difficult to get to all the valve stems? Could the engine still run smoothly with this type of fault?

I have not had the compression pressures tested yet, as I don't have the glowplug adapter & gauge; is this a job for the specialist only?

I'd be grateful for some experienced views......MM
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I run one of these vans and can assure they aren't the quickest off the mark 0 - 60 in half an hour :LOL: and then an eternity to get from 60 - 70 on the motorway.

It may be that if you are used to something with a bit more poke the Escort might just "seems" to lack power when you drive it when actually it is behaving normally. I'm sure some others will add to this!
I agree with the above.
Got an ex royal mail one and theyre the most gutless things on the road.
Get it on the motorway and open the drivers window, see how much your speed drops :LOL:
I had hoped the detail would have highlighted a problem, I know it's low on power because I had another 1.8D escort van immediately before it. I have also tried an Astra 1.7 dti with common rail ignition (which flies!) so I know how gutless the Escort Van can be.
My old van would easily pull up a steep hill in 2nd gear at about 25mph, but wouldn't quite pull 3rd; this one will only pull 1st at 15mph up the same hill, with a very similar load.
Trust me, there's something wrong, I just need a few pointers to help sort it out, i.e others' experience.
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If everything else has been checked, do a compression test on it.
Does it rev ok at a standstill? Ie: can you get it right to full revs under no load?
If the valves are bent and you have managed to run it in that condition, I should imagine after this length of time that the cylinder head now has elongated holes where the valves go through. If that's the case then you would probably experience low compression. If that's the only test you haven't done then must be worth doing. It may be cheaper to get a local garage to do it than buy the adapter you don't have.. If that doesn't show anything up then it may be time to take the head off. It's not that big a job once you get started.
Thanks for that, looks like it's the compression test then. I think I'll see if it has an EGR this weekend if the weather is good enough, if it does it may have stuck open causing excessive dilution of the oxygen content of the intake air - that would fit my symptoms, and be easier to inspect than having the head off.

In case it's worth stating, the performance hasn't deteriorated, it has always been that bad. This is heartening as the "bent valve" theory leading to elongated seat(s) would have caused a further drop in power. Also a similar fault like a burnt exhaust valve would presumably have rapidly burnt away to almost nothing by now!
No EGR valve present, and this is mechanical diesel injection, so none of those new fangled air flow meters on this van.

Next step, I'll have to try to find some time to get the compression pressures checked. As it appears to be the only possible fault left it may be seen as a waste of time & money as I'll have to have the head off anyway, it just seems right to find a fault before diving in.
OK, no EGR valve is fitted on this model, and the rattly noise comes from the camshaft driven vacuum pump which gives me brakes, hence the lower rattly noise when braking.

Does anyone know if this engine has hydraulic tappets?
And do they fail, giving less than normal valve lift?

...still haven't done the compression test yet!!
how does it start from cold? i cant see how you would have a compression problem on a well running and starting diesel engine
I still say this sounds normal for a 1.8 diesel Escort, the performance on these things is poo! People get fed up when they are behind me because as soon as you hit a gradient on the motorway the lack of power shows. Personally I would not have another one of these vans.
Yes a compression test would be the obvious thing to do.

May be worth getting the injectors removed and checked by a specialist; should be only about £25. Check for lift pressure and spray pattern.

Just a general pointer but does it "blow" much from the oil filler if the throttle is lifted when idling?

If not then I would doubt if the valve stems are worn badly.

Presumably the "timing check" did ensure that all the pulleys were correctly lined up with each other?

Has the fuel flow been checked as adequate? Was the fuel filter changed? No water in fuel system?

Obvious but often overlooked, have you replaced the inlet air filter or checked that it has indeed been done and not just charged for?

Has the exhaust gas been analysed?

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