Why You are Here.
Chances are you just bought are you are thinking of buying a ZX2. We also have other non-ZX2 members and they are welcome as well. Even non-ZX2 owners can benifiet from reading this thread because it contains information that isn't only related to the ZX2. Also, we have several members that don't even mod thier ZX2's. That is okay too, we have a lot of information to share that is useful to the casual driver. The ZX2 was introduced in 1997 for the 1998 model year. It had a base price of about $10,995. Cheaper then many competitors and it got great reviews from magazines. There will be some links to articles later in this thread. It was the only Escort you could get with the 2.0 DOHC Zetec engine. In fact, ZX2 stands for Zetec; X-generation; 2 doors. The Zetec has been around for some time now and was used in the Escort and Focus rally cars. Don't let your Honda buddies try to tell you it is a rip-off of Vtec. They are nothing alike and Zetec is a family of engines that has history. Remember, Vtec is a system, Zetec is an engine family. We also got VCT on our engines which is Varible Cam Timing. Again, not like Vtec. VCT was used in place of EGR (Exhaust Gas Recirculation) for emmission purposes. In an EGR system a vaccum accuated valve will pull some exhaust gas back into the intake side of the engine to be reburned. This cools the cylinder and does two things, helps create more low-end power and reduces the amount of hydrocarbons emmited from the car. VCT operates by retarding the exhaust cam. This means the exhaust valves will be open somewhat when the cylinder is on the intake stroke. Not only will this pull air in from the intake but it will also pull in some of the exhaust gas. This has the same effect as EGR without the extra EGR plumbing. If you didn't know we also had some special ZX2's made. In 1999 they made 110 (106 registerd) ZX2 S/R versions. They had an upgraded PCM, Borla muffler, Centerforce clutch, ES bushings, Eibach springs, 4-wheel disc brakes, Roush intakes, 150mph speedo clusters, daisy rims, and B&M shifters. All of them were yellow and only sold in California. In 2000 they made 2000 S/R's and sold them all over the US. They made 1000 yellow, 500 red, and 500 black. It was sold as an option package for the value price of about $1500. In 2003 they redesigned the front of the car and afterwards the ZX2 was discontinued in favor of the Focus. No one said Ford was smart.
If you have an ATX (automatic transaxle) you really should install an auxillary transmission cooler. The ATX can be reliable for daily driving but it overheats easily. The factory cooler just doesn't cut it. You will also benifiet from switching to a synthetic transmission fluid and have transmission flushes done on a regular schedule. For reference, the ATX typically loses 27% of its' power between the engine and wheels. For instance, if you make 100 hp at the crank, you'll see 73 hp (73 whp) at the wheels.
If you have the MTX (manual transaxle) then you'll have more fun with this car. You'll see slightly better MPG as well. The weak point in this transmission is the differential. It will shatter if you do too many hard launches. It'll hold up okay if you avoid wheel hop but it'll eventually shatter. Some people are using the PG (Phantom Grip) to prevent the gears from shattering when it wheel hops. You should be able to find more info on this site about the PG. This transmission also uses ATX fluid and will benifiet from a good synthetic. You should also change this fluid every few years just to keep it fresh. The MTX typically loses 17% of its' power between the engine and wheels. This is why many people who want to mod thier ZX2 with an ATX will swap to a MTX. More of the power will make it to the ground and more fun will be had. More ricers will be beaten too.
The Zetec is a very well designed powerplant. It is very durable as many of us have proven over and over again. Remember, this engine has been raced for years. It really loves synthetic oil as well. Not only does it offer better protection, but you get longer change intervels as well. I know synthetic cost more, but since you can wait longer between changes, it balances out. It is also better for the engine. Many people think if you switch from a conventional oil to a synthetic, it'll cause oil leaks. This isn't true. Synthetic oil doesn't cause leaks, it finds them. The problem is that synthetic oil is so good at cleaning gunk that it'll remove all the gunk conventional oil leaves behind. This is only a problem if you have a bad seal somewhere. The convential oil will build a gunk up and keep from seeping out. The synthetic will clean this gunk up and then seep out. I switched to a synthetic oil at 60,000 miles and it was fine. I switched my wifes car after 100,000 miles and it was fine too. If the engine was cared for properly you won't have an issue. You'll also want to use a good oil filter. The Motorcraft filter (part# FL-2005) is good because it has an anti-flowback valve. This keeps oil from draining out of the head and back into the pan. Otherwise the head will be dry on start-up and this will wear the cams faster. If you have a problem with this car check the 'Problems' section of the site for more help. We have a 'Common Problems' thread that covers most issues so read that before you post. Your question might be answered before you ask.
The ZX2 only came with the Zetec. But the other Escort (97+) 4-door used the 2.0 SPI engine. Some of use know about this engine as well and will be able to help you with it. Just ask if you need help with this engine.
Since the Focus uses the Zetec engine we can use any of thier intake cams (with exception of the SVT). We can't use thier exhaust cam because they do not have the VCT system. A funny thing about this is that our intake cam is nearly identical to thier stage 1 performance cam. In fact, some of them use the ZX2 intake cam since they can get them cheaper used. Our exhaust cam has a spool on it that fills in a larger cam journal (hole the cam rides in) and the ZX3 cams won't fit our spool or the gap. The spool is there to support the cam inside the VCT solenoid. You can delete the VCT but must keep the spool to support the cam. VCT delete kits can be bought and they come with most of what you need. You will have to buy a new cam gear (I think someone has used an intake gear turned around) and maybe the new bolt. The old bolt won't work because it is too long. If you use high lift and high rev cams you'll probably want to install stiffer valve springs so they will close faster and follow the cam more closely. If you ever modify the cams you need to determine if you have solid or 2-piece buckets. The solid buckets are what you want to use. The 2-piece have the shims in the top and the hotter cams will flip the shim and cause all sorts of issues and damage.
Head and Block.
We can use block parts from the Focus Zetec as well. It is easier to find them this way. Several manufactuers make these parts. Crower even makes a stroker kit. Typically the stock rods aren't trusted over 230 whp. The head can be PnP'ed (port and polished) for more flow. Some people even have the head milled (shaved down) to gain a higher compression ratio. This can also be achieved by using a thinner head gasket or pistons/rods designed for a higher ratio.
The stock coil is actually well designed and has a lot of output. Some have shown a small loss with aftermarket coils. The most popular coil is the MSD Blaster. You should avoid the Accel and Screamin Deamon Brands. They like to fail as much as they work.
Last edited by ZX2Fast; 04-17-2008 at 10:43 PM.
Read the Welcome thread before you ask questions, please <---CLICK
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1998 Ford ZX2 Escort Turbo: 13.908 @ 106.280 MPH
TO4E (Ebay knock-off) at 10 psi.
13.9 at 106 mph
See a ZX2 tow 3500 pounds of car and tools!
You Tube Channel
A popular clutch is the Spec Stage 2. It has segmented Kevlar friction surface. It holds well and has a similar to stock pedal feel. Other brands of clutches include: South Bend, Centerforce, Exedy (sucks), and stock replacements, etc. Some of the ATX guys have spent the money on Level 10 upgrades. They are pricey but they nearly bulletproof the ATX. It still doesn't do anything about the extra drivetrain loss over the MTX. At the very least you'll want to find a higher stall torque converter. The MTX guys are using the Phantom Grip. It is not too difficult to install for someone who is comfortable opening a transmission up. We can also fit the Mazda Speed LSD into our case. You have to modify the case a bit and the LSD for the speedo gear but it works. You also will have to have custom axles made to use this differential. There are some lighter flywheels available as well. The most popular is the Fidanza. The stock one weighs 19.5 pounds while the Fidanza weighs just over 9 pounds. We already know we have to grind down the timing ring bolts or the spot that hits the block, to use this flywheel. It isn't hard to do if you have a Dremel and a grinding wheel.
The easier upgrades include the RSB (rear sway bar) and a front strut tower brace. Many use the RSB off of an Escort wagon. The stock ZX2 RSB is 13mm, the wagon is 19mm, and the Escort GT is 21mm. Usually this is intalled with a new set of ES (Engergy Suspension) end links. ES bushings are made of a different compound that is stiffer and more durable then rubber. We can use the front strut braces from some Mazda's. I think the Mazda 323 bars work. I can't recall anyone that makes the bar specifically for the ZX2. Ractive used to but I haven't found anyone that carries them anymore. You might have noticed the ZX2 has a wheel gap like a truck. Many don't like this look and seek to lower it. Eibach makes some springs (just like on the S/R) that lower the front/back 1"/1.2". They offer a really nice progressive rate for stable hard turning. Other springs include Ground Control, Megan Racing, etc. If you decide to install lower springs you will need to use shorter struts. You can get the Tokico struts in a 15mm shorter rod for this purpose. This part is also used on the S/R.
The most popular exhaust (aside from the fart cannon) is the Trubendz exhaust. They offer aluminized steel for the cheap option (works well if you don't have salty air or salty roads) and they offer stainless steel if you need an exhaust that will outlive you. They offer resonated and unresonated. They also have several mufflers like Borla, Flow Master, Magnaflow, and Areo Turbine. Pacesetter also has an exhaust. There have been several people complain about how fast it rust out. Especially the muffler that comes with it. The tip will rust out in less then a week. Most people go with the 2.5" exhaust to allow room for future upgrades. If you only plan to keep your car near stock and you have and ATX, you'll want to stick to the 2.25" exhaust to help maintain your low-end torque. A common myth is that you need backpressure to make power. This isn't true. Typically the less backpressure, the better. They myth stems from the effect of exhasut scavenging. Remember discussing the effects and purpose of VCT and EGR systems? If you have backpressure in the system it will help scavenge the cylinder. This will remove more of the burnt gas and allow more new mixture into the chamber as well as cool the chamber. This effect is usually lost when the engine is turning really fast. But you'll notice a loss in power in the low-end but you'll gain it, then some, in the upper range.
If you have a state with visual or sniffer emission test, you'll need to keep your catalytic converter in the stock location (if they use CA guidelines). Otherwise you'll fail the test. Some headers maintain the stock cat in the stock location, like the JBA. The Pacesetter also is a 'shorty' header but it is even worse then the exhaust they make. Some of us don't have to worry about emission testing so we can do away with the cat if we like. This means we can use 'long' style headers that will have a pipe that takes place of the stock cat and connects to the rest of the exhaust. Hotshot used to make a header but they are getting hard to find. Kamakaze makes one as well as a Hotshot knock-off called OBX. You can find them on Ebay.
The stock intake is restrictive. It only draws air in from two 1" snorkels. It also has two resonators that quite the intake by slowing the air down. This can lose power. A popular mod is the Keman mod. It is nearly free to do and can be found in the 'How-to' section of this site. There are other intakes made. CTA used to make one but they were discontinued. MMI makes an intake similar to the CTA. There are also the S/R intakes made by Roush (good luck finding one) and Iceman. Some of the Ebay intakes should be avoided, including the weapon-r. They don't usually come with all the needed parts and will show a loss in power. Some have also been able to get the V6 Accord intake to work.
The stock PCM can only tolerate so much change. Typically it can handle some breathing mods like the intake, header, and exhaust. Once you start getting into serious modification, like N2O, cams, and boost, you'll need to have the PCM tuned to handle it. Even a mostly stock ZX2 can benifiet from having tuning done. The stock PCM leaves a lot of room for improvment. The most popular option is a chip that plugs into the back of the PCM. These are made by Superchips, SCT, Diablo, and Sniper. Some of them also make a flasher that plugs into your OBD-II port to reflash the PCM. Some members also use the POT's mod. This involves wiring a switch and a potentiometer into the wires for your ECT (engine coolant temperature) and/or IAT (intake air temperature) sensor wires. This will trick the PCM into thinking the engine and air is colder and the PCM will add fuel and timing. Modern PCM's have a warm-up mode to get the engine to operating temperature to reduce emissions. This is what the ECT mod does. On the IAT it tells the PCM the air is colder so it can add timing to make more power. The problem with these mods is that the PCM will learn. It will know it that something isn't right because the PCM continualy compares readings between all of the sensors. If it notices a descrepency, it will try to adjust it out. If it can't adjust it out, it will set a code and your SES (service engine soon) light will come on. This is why you install the switch to turn it off so the PCM doesn't have an issue with the mod. Also, if you leave the ECT mod on too long, the engine will overheat. This is because the cooling fan won't come on because it doesn't know the real temperature of the engine.
We don't drive Honda's so we don't need to swap engines to make our cars fast. There have been some succesful swaps to a V6 or a V8. They are as much for shock value as they are performance. Unless you are building a race car, there isn't much point in swapping a V8 in. Also, unless you plan one mean ass V6, there won't be a point in swapping a V6 in for power because the 4-cylinder is capable of making the ZX2 a daily driven 11 second car.
Things to Avoid:
You might notice a chip on Ebay that promises a 20-45 hp gain for the resonable price of $40. All you need to do is splice it into one wire on your intake. This mod is bogus because one, it doesn't make 20 hp, and two, it cost them less then $5 to make it. This is the same thing as the POT's mod you can do yourself. The Ebay chip also doesn't come with a switch so the PCM will adjust it out in a couple days anyway and make it useless.
If these worked then no one would spend thousands of dollars on real kits. Sure, the fans put out a lot of air but not nearly enough to feed an engine running wide open. They end up just restricting airflow. Some people don't understand this or they are just ignorant and want to waste $200 any way they can.
Turbonators and Vortex Fuel Savers.
These devices go inside your intake and 'spin' the incoming air. This is supposed to make it easier for the air to get in and mix with the fuel. They prove this by holding a bottle of water upside down and it glugs out. Then they take the same bottle of water and spin it. The water comes out much quicker now. So of course this means spinning air moves through the intake faster, right? Well, they use peoples' own ignorance against them. The reason the water comes out faster is because air has to go into the bottle to displace the water. When they spin it, they create a hole in the middle for air to come in while water comes out on the outside of the hole. When the didn't spin it, water would fill the hole up and air couldn't be in. That is why it will glug out. If you took the same bottle and turned it upsid-down it would glug, then poke a hole in the end and it will come out just as fast as it did when you spin it. I guess that means if I put a hole in my intake it'll work better then too, huh? Now you see why these things don't work. They only increase the resistance of the airflow in the intake because they take up room. Aside from that, it is a ripoff to charge you $50 for $8 worth of sheet metal spot welded together.
Last edited by capitalcrew; 01-16-2010 at 02:29 PM.
There are plenty of these around. A common scam is when you take your ZX2 because the timing belt broke. They'll tell you that there is likely valve damage because when the timing belt breaks, the ones that are open will hit the pistons. While this is true for many engines, it isn't true for ours. We have a non-interference engine. There are reliefs cut into the pistons to make room for the valves if the belt breaks. To thier credit, the books list the ZX2 as an interference engine because they were too lazy to separate them from the 4-door Escort with the SPI engine. To thier discredit, once they tear down the engine and find no damage at all, they will still tell you there is damage and charge you $900 for headwork you didn't actually need or get. Another common scam is if you take your ATX in for a transmission flush. They say come back in an hour or so. You come back to get your car and they charge you for the system flush. Sure, they put new fliud in but they didn't hook that machine up to flush the system. You get no more then a standard drain and fill. The bottom line is, you need to stay at the shops and watch them work on your car. There is no telling what they may do when they know you aren't looking and when they know you don't really understand cars. If they won't let you watch them, don't let them work on your car.
A common 'newb' question is what to spend money on first. I'm going to list two budgets. The list will give the most common mods that manage a good balance of fast and balanced. A general rule in modding a car is: Fast, reliable, cheap; you can only pick two, you can't have all three.
Keman intake - $10
UDP - $100 with belt
Chip or tuner - $350 or less
Remove stock muffler and install pipe with tip - $40 or less.
All of the above mods except the muffler removal. This leaves $460.
Exhaust - $350 or less for a local shop made crush bent exhaust
RSB upgrade with ES bushings - $60
Short Shifter - $120
You may be able to find some of these parts used so it'll be cheaper. These budgets assume you can install many of the parts yourself so labor isn't factored in.
ABS = Anti-lock Brake System
ATX = Automatic Transaxle
CCRM = Constant Control Relay Module
ECM = Electronic Control Module
KOEO = Key On Engine Off
KOER = Key On Engine Running
LSD = Limited Slip Differential
MSP = Mazda Speed Protege
MTX = Manual Transaxle
PCM = Powertrain Control Module
PUTSB = Please Use The Search Button
RAP = Remote Anti-theft Personality
RSB = Rear Sway Bar
SRS = Supplemental Restraint System
SS = Short Shifter
VCT = Variable Cam Timing
VSS = Vehicle Speed Sensor
Websites You Should Visit.
How Stuff Works
OBD-II Code Look-up
Team ZX2 Cafe Press
ATP Turbo, Parts for Boost
Crower Stroker Kit
ZX2.org, go here for a PTuning discount
My Ford Performance
Last edited by capitalcrew; 09-23-2009 at 05:07 PM.
welcome is spelled wrong
Don't feed the fuzzy.
76 Celica - SOLD
93 Tracker - Trashed
93 MX6 - Traded
00 zx2- SOLD
91 bagged S15 - SOLD
96 - 200SX SE-R - under the knife
I Love You Man!
1998 Ford Escort Zx2 (Sold)
1991 Honda Accord (Sold)
yay all better!
I've got up everything I can think of for now. I'm sure there are more common terms and interesting websites. If you can think of them, post it here so I can add it.
Wow, this was really helpful. Didn't understand half of it, but it definitely cleared a few things up in my head.
i have that atx to mtx swap guide saved to my comp no pics tho if u want it i put it to word cause i was gunna do it 2 my car
Thanks, but I've already got it back up.
Bump since everyone is a n00b.
[06-05, 04:19] AtlanticblueZX2 [05-05, 23:15] corby_pants i have a labret through my dickhole
[06-05, 04:19] AtlanticblueZX2 corby has a labret through his mouth?
jegs.com free shipping!!!!!!!!!!!!! small handling fee i mean real small
03 lotsa fixins
98 in the works
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