Are two engine failures in 16k miles a coincidence, or do I own a lemon?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Feb 01, 1993

Dear Tom and Ray:

I own a '91 Ford Escort GT that has had to have the lifters replaced at 3,000 miles and again at 16,000 miles. Because the car is under warranty, the work hasn't cost me anything, but I'm wondering if this will continue to be a problem? Is this a generic problem with multi-valve engines, or do I have a lemon?

RAY: Well, it sounds like you have some kind of citrus fruit, Fred. We're not sure if it's a lemon or a grapefruit, but it's certainly not a car I would want to own.

TOM: What's probably happening is that the top end of the engine is not getting enough lubrication. And that's causing the lifters to collapse. Once they collapse, they're getting beat up by the cam shaft.

RAY: And the fact that it happened a second time at 16,000 miles indicates that they still haven't fixed the cause of the problem.

TOM: It could be caused by low oil pressure. To find out, I'd have an independent mechanic do an oil pressure test.

RAY: If the oil pressure is low, the dealership may be able to correct it with a new oil pump. But if the engine's been running on low oil pressure for 16,000+ miles, you're bound to have more engine trouble later on.

TOM: So if the independent test proves that the oil pressure is low, I'd take that evidence to the dealership and tell them you want a new engine, Fred. They're not going to like that suggestion, so when you go back, bring four or five big friends with you. Good luck.

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