1997 Ford Escort: Varying Idle and Stalling

My wife’s 1997 Ford Escort suddenly started having idling problems today. Basically, whenever the car was fully stopped or in park it would idle up and down, hovering over stalling and eventually doing just that. However, it would have no problems restarting after the stall.

Initially I thought the problem was related to the status of motor oil… but that’s another issue. Topping off the motor oil to the appropriate level did nothing to correct the idling problem.

After that disappointment I started noticing a hissing, or air-sucking noise coming from somewhere around the engine. This turned out to be the key.

I found a small hole in the L-bend of the PCV hose, which sits along the top-back of the engine on this particular Escort model. I put my finger over the hole and the engine suddenly returned to normal idle. The L-bend piece was actually caved-in around the hole, so proper repair would mean replacing the PCV hose or PCV hose and valve, depending on how Ford sells the parts. However, with one day left in the work week I temporarily repaired the L-bend with an abundant wrapping of black electric tape. This seems to work and will hopefully keep the car running properly until I can replace the PCV part or parts on Saturday.

You can read more about the interesting history and functionality of the PCV valve at Wikipedia.

7 thoughts on “1997 Ford Escort: Varying Idle and Stalling”

  1. Your wife[’s car] & my car are twins. I have the same issues. I’d Love to read more of your wife’s car troubles & solutions, you would be helping me out much! BTW, no auto repair shop in my area even knew what the little blue rubber part was so it’s doubly frusterating.

  2. My ’97 Escort is stalling when idling too. Thanks for posting this. May I’ll find an air leak in the PCV hose. I think that would be the best case scenario.

  3. I had the EXACT same issue start about a month ago! the L-Bend in the PCV hose has a hole that is “caved in”. Same idling and everything. Will probably post again after I replace it today at the local AutoZone.

  4. I remove it and replace it with a SPARK PLUG BOOT, problem solved.
    Hope this helps.

    yes, it works excellently & fits like a glove. Just use the bent booot & you’re there.
    Cost? free to five bucks tops.

  5. Thank you for posting this. My 97 escort was having the same problem. I checked the PCV hose and found exactly what you described. I replaced it and no longer have the stalling problem.

    Again, THANK YOU SO MUCH! $6 is so much cheaper than $80 to have the local shop just look at it!

  6. I had the same exact problem with my 97 Ford escort and this was so helpful! I have had tape over the hole for a while now and I really need to permanently fix this issue but I can’t seem to find the right part online. The one I have found looks like it is just the outer insulation for the pipe where did you find the correct part? The hole on mine is also near the bend at the top of the hose (not the side that connects to the PCV valve.) I also need to replace the valve does anyone know if that is doable without a mechanic?

    1. Hi Nicole,

      The “pipe” is actually just a rubber hose with an L-bend in it, as I recall. I bought one at Advanced Auto Parts. It was quite easy to remove the old one and replace it with the new.

      How are you determining that you need to replace the PCV valve?

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