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'98 Ford Escort ZX2 A/C and Heater Stopped Blowing

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Oct 26, 2011, 7:24 PM

Post #1 of 1 (2593 views)
'98 Ford Escort ZX2 A/C and Heater Stopped Blowing Sign In

I have a '98 Ford Escort ZX2 that I purchased last winter. It has around 138,000 miles on it. When I bought it, the heat worked great, but when I turned on the A/C it only blew warm or hot air. I moved to Missouri from Pennsylvania in mid-July, and had the A/C fixed about a month beforehand so that I would be more comfortable during the trip. I believe it was a few days later that I started having trouble with the car idling. It would rumble and shake, and sometimes felt as though it were lurching, but never stalled completely. Also, the A/C would only blow cold when the car was in motion. As soon as I stopped at a stop light or whatever, it would blow warm or hot air. I started turning the A/C off completely at right before coming to a stop (I figured I might as well since it wasn't working then anyway). This fixed the idling problems. It was still a little shaky, but I've always bought older cars and never had one that didn't shake a little while it idled. This one has shook a little since I bought it, especially in very cold or very hot weather, but I never noticed it until someone else pointed it out. As it never seemed to cause me any trouble until I started using the A/C, I had always just ignored it.
Another problem I had after getting the A/C fixed was that my car had problems starting. It would take a while to turn over, and sometimes it wouldn't work at all and it would take two or three tries, or it would stall right away. If I turned the A/C off before turning off my car, I wouldn't have this problem when I went to start it next.
I made the trip to Missouri and the car did fine. A/C worked, no problems starting or idling, no overheating. We arrived in Missouri at the beginning of an awful heat wave - it was in the upper 90s/low 100s for our first two weeks or so, during which my car did struggle a bit regardless of how I ran the A/C, but after the heat died down it was fine once again. Then one day around the end of August/beginning of September, I started my car, and turned on the A/C. The only thing that came out of the vents was a pathetic little puff of air, then nothing. I turned it off and tried again, and nothing happened. There was no air, no sound at all. I tried the heat and still got nothing, and it has not been working ever since. I let it go at first, but now that we've had some cold days I am really starting to miss having the heat working.
I have not tried to fix this on my own, as I know nothing about cars and don't want to do anything to make the situation worse. My uncle is a mechanic, so I am used to taking my troubles to him and letting him fix them, but now that I'm half way across the country that is no longer an option, and I don't know of any local mechanics who I can trust with my car (or my money, which is very limited at the moment).
If anyone has any ideas about what could be wrong and what repair costs would be, that would be very helpful!

Some other background info:
In the first three months or so that I had the car, I had to refill the coolant three times. It was fine for the first month or so (when the weather was coldest) but then the check coolant light came on. There was no leak that I could see, so I didn't think anything of it at first - just refilled it right away. It was not overheating or showing any signs of trouble when I drove it. Once it lasted less than two weeks, after which I took it to my uncle and I believe he put in a new thermostat. I have not had trouble with the coolant since then. The thermostat was put in about a month before the A/C was fixed.

I'm sure this is unrelated, but the brake light sticks sometimes. I have to pound on the brake pedal after turning off my car, otherwise it will sometimes stay on and run down the battery. I came out to a dead car twice before figuring out what was wrong.

Any help or advice is greatly appreciated! Thanks!

- Anne

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