View Full Version : nezwick's 1998 ProDX worklog

12-25-2009, 08:58 PM
A little background info:

I bought the car as a beater so I could give my Escort some much needed attention and to save it from the PA winter. I didn't really plan to do much with it, or even really care much about it. The guy was asking $850 but I talked him down to $600, which seemed like a good deal at the time. It was inspected, ran well and the transmission shifted smoothly. The seller said it needed nothing, but I could tell it was going to need a rear wheel bearing in the near future. The car was absolutely filthy and the PO smoked in it, but I could tell it was salvageable.

So I got it home, started doing the routine maintenance such as oil change, plugs and wires, etc etc when I started noticing lots of little indiscretions... a few examples were some hackjob wiring repairs and stereo "upgrades" and I could tell the interior had been taken apart once and not put back together quite right.

So my girlfriend Nikki and I spent about a week completely gutting the interior, scrubbing and shampooing everything, and reassembling. It came out really nice but still needs some replacement panels to be complete.

Then the wheel bearing got worse as I drove the car, so I had it replaced.

Then I took a trip of about 300 miles and the car developed an oil leak. It wasn't bad, just a few drips here and there.

I spent about $300 on winter tires.

Then it started leaking out onto the exhaust and smoking everywhere.

Then it started leaking a whole quart a week.

Then one day the engine started knocking, the oil pressure light came on, and it struggled to stay running. I checked the oil, noticed it was bone dry, kept adding oil until it was full. Turns out it had lost over 2.5 quarts of oil in just over a week. It wasn't burning the oil, mind you, it was just plain leaking out. This ended up being the death of the motor, so I parked the car and got the Escort back on the road. I contemplated cutting my losses and ditching this POS Protege but I decided it would be better just to replace the engine.

So I found a place in Pittsburgh that had an engine for $150. I wasn't expecting much for $150 since I paid $300 for my Escort's SPI, but I went with it anyway since it's just a winter beater. Nikki and I drove to Pittsburgh to get it one day, and it is the cleanest junkyard motor I have ever laid eyes on. It looks like it's in awesome shape.

Last weekend, I started ripping out the old motor and getting ready to install the new one. Today, my dad and I got the new engine prepped and bolted in the car. We have some more work to do tomorrow but we're hoping to get the car back on its feet either tomorrow evening or early Sunday. My Escort's starting to rust really badly and I've only had it on the road for just over a month of winter type weather.

Well without further adieu, here are some photos. I neglected to take ANY pics when I first got it, or pics of our cleaning job... because I didn't even think I'd care much about the car. Now that I have to put an engine in it, I've decided to keep it as a full-time winter beater / spare car.

Comments, please!


This is the 1998 Protege DX, 1.5 DOHC with automatic trans. The EGT wheels are from my Escort since I had to put the Protege's steelies/snows on the Escort. I like the colour scheme the PO was going for, but it was poorly executed. I think he used Rust Oleum spray paint or something lol



Nasty engine bay and subframe/arms



The filthy old engine and transmission (BUT it has a new starter!)




All washed up. I did the best I could with some Simple Green and a power washer in 22 degree weather lol




After disassembly, found the torque converter and transmission shafts appear to be in great shape.




Pic of flywheel on bad engine. Seems to be in good shape.


This is what the old engine looks like. It is completely covered in 230,000 miles worth of grime and oil.


Front side of old engine.


Evidence that the front main seal was the culprit, or at least one of them. It's even more gross looking in person.


This is the new engine installed in the car - all the oil on the valve cover and intake mani are just from us handling it. We don't have too much more to go.


Front shot of the new block - it's a little dirty here but it's nice and dry.


Another shot of the tangled mess that is a Protege engine bay. It's a whole different ball game than my Pony.


12-25-2009, 09:50 PM
i got a b6 if you ever want to get rid of the z5


12-25-2009, 10:26 PM
I don't think the car's worth doing anything with other than keeping it stock. Thanks though.

My goal is to get at least 300,000 on the chassis. It currently has 230,xxx.

12-25-2009, 10:27 PM
hopefully the new motor serves you well.

One correction, the flywheel of an automatic is actually called a flexplate.

12-25-2009, 10:33 PM
Oh, I did not know that. This is the first time I have ever had to deal with an automatic transmission lol. I guess the Escort's Haynes manual calls it a driveplate or something.

The engine better serve me well. I'm about sick of fixing things on this car already lol

12-26-2009, 06:31 PM
Glad to see you getting the pro back in working order. I'd hate to see the escort rust anymore than it has.

12-26-2009, 10:54 PM
Yep, got everything all finished up today and it's running nice and smooth. It had a horrible banging noise coming from the head when first started, but it went away after going for a quick run. Must have been a dry or sticky lifter or something. I'll just have to keep an eye on it.

Something I forgot to post yesterday is that I discovered that BOTH engines' exhaust manifolds are cracked in the exact same spot. I take it this is a common problem with Z5 exhaust manis? I put the better of the two back on the car and I'm going to have my brother take the other one to school and weld it. It looks like somebody had tried to braze it but it cracked again after the "repair".

We only had one weird issue with it, and that was trying to get the distributor adjusted to the right position so the car would idle properly. I guess I take my Escort's EDIS for granted.

The engine runs and idles nice and smooth, and the transmission shifts way smoother than it did before. The fluid that came out of the trans was pretty nasty looking (black, but didn't smell burnt). I have never done anything with an automatic transmission before so I was kinda flying blind but used the Escort's Haynes manual as a guide. Everything was pretty much the same.

At any rate, I'm going to drive the car a bit tomorrow to make sure everything is acceptable and then I'll have it back on the road and legal for use on Monday. I look forward to getting the Escort off the road again - I have a few plans for it this winter. Just ordered a nice new suspension goodie this morning.

01-14-2010, 06:57 PM
Well yesterday on my trip home from Pittsburgh my car sprung a coolant leak. It's coming from under the distributor, so I'm guessing it's either that stupid metal hard line that runs between the water pump and thermostat housing, or it's where the upper hose meets the thermo housing.

I can continue to drive the car as long as I monitor the coolant level and keep feeding it. I plan to work on that on Saturday afternoon.

I also gave one of my cracked exhaust manis to my brother to take to school with him to weld up. I should have that back tomorrow night.

01-17-2010, 10:44 AM
Fixed the coolant leak yesterday. It turned out that a hose clamp was not moved into place during the engine replacement and the pressure must have pushed the rubber hose off of the metal hard line.

Then I washed the engine up, and it looks tons better now.

When I went to leave for the night, the car was misfiring really badly. Turns out a ton of water had gotten into the spark plug holes. Cleaned out all the water to fix that issue. Also swapped out the cheapie Autolites for some NGK's... it doesn't run QUITE as poorly now... but still has a CEL (has been on since I bought the car). I'm going to borrow my friend's OBDII scanner some time to get that code read.

01-23-2010, 05:49 PM
Today I swapped the cracked exhaust mani for the repaired (formerly cracked) exhaust mani. Wow, what a difference... in both sound and smoothness.

Worked on troubleshooting my P0135 code... looks like my #1 O2 sensor was garbage. I swapped it with the spare one that came with the junkyard engine, cleared the code, and took it for a few runs. No more codes... for now. Hopefully it stays that way. I'm sure that both the cracked mani and the dead O2 sensor were what was causing the car to run pig rich.

Also located ANOTHER coolant leak. This one not so severe, but still present. Looks like the upper rad hose has a tear in it and is seeping. I'll get tomorrow when I go pick up the dust boots and bumpers for my Escort's S/R struts.

I have pics of the exhaust manis but I have to wait until my camera's batteries charge back up before I can post them.

01-24-2010, 09:49 PM
Still no CEL!!

Pics of the manifolds.

Cracked mani


Repaired mani (isn't pretty but it's welded AND brazed)

01-24-2010, 10:12 PM
If it works than that is all that matters.

01-27-2010, 10:44 AM
Well the SOB threw another code yesterday morning... this time it's P0455. Looks like I try to track down the "large" leak in the Evaporative Emission Control System.

Replace the gas cap, right?

I wonder where the purge valve is on this car. That may also not be working.

02-03-2010, 10:33 PM
Fixed ANOTHER! coolant leak last week... the upper radiator hose was leaking around the thermostat housing. Replaced the hose and clamp, and it's good to go.

My gas mileage has been sucking lately though... when I first got the car I got anywhere between 27-31 on the highway and now, I'm getting 24-26 highway. There are no more critical CEL codes being thrown... still just the P0455 which I haven't had time to track down yet.

04-03-2010, 09:25 PM
Well I'm still driving this car - haven't had any major problems in a long time!

It quit throwing the code about the EVAP leak so I don't know what that was all about. Last week I finally broke down and bought a new upstream O2 sensor and it got rid of that code too. So the CEL is finally gone, until something else happens.

I also replaced the fuel filter and what a PAIN that was. What is a 15 minute job in the Escort took me 1hr 20mins in this stupid car. I swear, every time I have to work on this car, I want to go back in time and punch the engineers at Mazda in the face. Hard.
We are in MD for the weekend and found a ton of parts at the junkyard today - mostly interior parts from LX's. I can't remember all of the things off the top of my head, but this is a basic list:

- PLASTIC trunk trim from a '95 (mine had carpet and it was gross)
- All four interior door pull latches and lock pulls and grab handle insert thingys (don't know what the real names for any of those parts are lol)
- All four black window cranks from MX-3 and BG 323
- Upgraded rear centre console piece with armrest and cup-holder (but it's missing the lid)
- Rubber hood bumpers (the PO had duct-taped some shop towels to the core support to hold up the hood)
- The small plastic bracket that the hood prop clips into because mine no longer held the hood prop
- Cubby hole insert for the unused DIN opening
- Brake pedal cover
- Trunk and fuel door release cable assembly (mine only had fuel door release)
- Small storage trays that go on the floor between the front seats and doors

We are going to visit another yard tomorrow morning and I'm really hoping to find replacement door panels for the front doors. I know I haven't posted pics of them yet but the PO attempted to spray paint part of them black and completely ruined them. I also hope to find new seats - hopefully from an MX-3. I found some very nice seats from a BJ protege but they wouldn't bolt directly into my BH. There were 2 extremely nice ones out of a Pontiac G5 but they definitely wouldn't fit lol. I also need to find a grill because mine is falling apart.

I'll get more pics of the car and the new parts up soon.

10-10-2010, 11:38 AM
WELL it's been a while since I updated this thread... but the car has been running great and I've also purchased a bunch of replacement parts. No more complaints here, other than that the squealing alternator belt and squeaky brakes still exist.

I have done the following since last post:
- Installed missing lid for console
- Replaced front door panels
- Installed factory mud-flaps
- Replaced dome light
- Replaced stock intake tube (no more duct tape!)
- Found brand new distributor cap+rotor at junkyard - not yet installed
- Found very good condition rear seat back and bottom
- Replaced clip that holds hood prop rod down
- Installed missing RF inner-fender plastic

Also gave the car a tune-up last weekend... cleaned plugs and wires, cleaned old distributor cap+rotor up because there was a thick layer of corrosion and oil all over them, cleaned MAF, topped off fluids, etc, etc. I've been running the 15" EGT wheels and Fuzion ZRi tires this summer, since I have the Escort torn apart for repairs and paint. I wanted to paint the 13" steelies before winter but I don't know if I'll get to it or not.

The repaired exhaust manifold that is pictured above cracked again in the exact same place, so I broke down and purchased a brand new aftermarket one from 1Aauto.com. It's a great looking piece and took care of the exhaust problem.

The CEL is still on, but I haven't read the code to see what it's complaining about now. It doesn't seem to affect driveability.

I need to post pics of all this new stuff. I'll try to clean up the car and post pics soon!

Oh yeah, just rolled 241,900 miles this week and I've had the car for a year now. 21,900 miles in a year.

10-11-2010, 01:27 PM
sounds like u have been very busy, glad to hear u have the car running and ready to garage the escort. My escort has been in a garage finally for the first time in just over 2 years. Gonna be nice to have it inside this winter, maybe even get a chance to work on it.

12-24-2010, 02:21 PM
Well, nothing exciting to report here since last post - just been driving the car and keeping it on the road. Here's an update:

Things that are going to need fixed before next year's safety:
- Driver side CV joint has faint clicky noise when making tight turns
- Both axle seals leak fluid - they did slightly when I bought the car but now they're worse. In the year since I last had the axles out, it lost a whole quart of fluid.

The passenger side rear brake is dragging a bit, going to tackle that this weekend.

Last weekend I also tried another thing to figure out why the car runs like dogcrap, researched clogged catalytic converters and found that my car fits ALL the symptoms. So I took the exhaust system down, knocked out the 2nd cat (the one that's unmonitored), took out the air intake silencer from the front bumper, and reassembled - it might have given me a TINY bit of top end but did not give any significant power increase.

I know the "pre-cat" is not clogged since I just had it all apart when I changed the exhaust mani.

Next step is to see if perhaps the engine is timed incorrectly. That one's not going to be fun. Definitely not as easy to change a timing belt on this car as my Escort is.

01-12-2011, 07:46 PM
Here's a picture that Nikki took the other day!

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/nezwick/Protege/54734_10150375521805422_806295421_16599459_6592757 _o.jpg

01-19-2011, 04:35 PM
my car throws a p0455.. always thought it was my cracked exhaust manifold

02-27-2011, 01:35 PM
Cracked exhaust manifold you say?


Yeah that happened when I pulled off the road to fill my washer fluid, and drove over a concrete barrier that was covered in snow and not marked. Fortunately, it only broke the manifold and one other exhaust bolt.

So I replaced that, replaced the broken downpipe bolt, cleaned out the catalytic converter, cleaned the downstream O2 sensor (all caked with white flaky stuff), SeaFoam'd the engine, ran a bottle of Lucas through the fuel system, got new NGK Iridium IV plugs, new air filter, and did an oil change.

Result= much quieter car, runs a tiny bit smoother, and best of all...

46 MILES PER GALLON (mostly highway plus a little city)!!! The best I was ever able to get before was 31 and that was in the summer. It's about 40 degrees today.

11-05-2011, 06:18 PM
Well it's been a great 2 years but today I sold the Protege. Sold it to my brother so it didn't go far... He's going to use it as a DD while he does a 5-speed swap in his truck. Overall it was an awesome car, though the body is super ugly still.