WANTED: Your opinions on 2.3L reliability...

Discussion in '2.3L (N/A & Turbo) Tech' started by BlazinPony, Apr 21, 2004.

  1. Hey

    How solid and reliable are these 2.3L N/A cars, specifically the '90+
    cars with a 5 spd?

    The reason I ask is because I'm helping my younger brother buy his
    first car, and naturally a 4 cyl Mustang is a perfect fit (if insurance
    wasn't insanely expensive we'd be getting him a 5.0L, too!).

    I know how bullet-proof the 5.0L cars are (after owning a few), and
    I'd expect the same quality out of the 2.3L cars...

    Is there anything in particular to look for, or LOOK OUT for when
    buying these cars?

    You help and opinions on this would be greatly appreciated!

  2. I know that you are going to be in much better shape buying one with a t-5 (manual) as opposed to an A4LD (automatic). Also, if you can, try to get one between 91-93 as they have a roller cam setup and put out 105hp as opposed to 88hp. I think in many peoples experiences these cars have been very reliable. Personally, mine has not been great but that is only because the previous owner drove the hell out of it. I think I speak on behalf of most everyone on this forum when I recommend 2.3 Mustangs.
  3. Definitely get a five-speed, don't even waste your time with the automatic. I have 156,000 miles on my car (144K on tranny, but I swapped) and it still runs great, just has a sticky lifter that I need to replace this summer. Pulled down 27 mpg last tank (mostly highway, but still). :) Good solid motors, you really can't go wrong if you take good care of it.

  4. I have 120K on my 92 and she is still running strong. The T5 is the best thing you can buy. I had to have my auto rebulit right at 100K. It is a pos! I still get 25-28mpg which I think is rather well for having the EGR system taken off and having an auto.
  5. I have a 91 .. and i'll tell yah .. the motor will outlast the body for sure! .. heh i've never had a problem with the motor at all .. it's run strong since the day I got it. Im at 245, 000 kilo. so whats that about 152 000 miles? oh and it's a 5 speed ... I drove an automatic 2.3 ... and it just makes me glad I ended up with a 5spd ... what a difference.

    edit ... only repairs ive done = tuneup, replaced clutch once, clutch cable/fork, ebrake cable, and had my brakes replaced.
  6. I have a 93 LX with an Auto pushing 118 + and it is still running great has never left me stranded. I am going to swap in a 2.3T and a T5 the a4ld and the N/A are going to go on a custom Go Kart and reek havock in the world that way. I would also look for a manual if I was buying another car you and he will have less headaches. Plus there more fun..
  7. mine had 185k when i pulled it...lets just say it dont like un-intercooled boost witha cheap head gasket :( ....Great reliable car, never left me on the side of the road...well until boosted ;) Do the basics when you get it, and it will last forever. Mind you its only matter of time until he will want something
    fast(er)...be prepared for a 2.3turbo swap :nice:
  8. here is an idea, Get the 2.3 N/A with a T5 and drive it after a ALL Motorcraft parts tune up (these cars dont like Aftermarket plugs and wires) have fun with it and while your doing that get a Turbo motor build it up and later on when the N/A gets boring or If some trouble happens and if dies then swap it out and Have even more fun. Take some time and read some of the threads in here and see what a 2.3T can do compared to the 2.3 N/A and you will see what I mean. I think that the Ford 2.3 N/A that has been cared for and the maintence has been done ON TIME is the greatest daily driving engine that Ford has ever made. Im biased ex ricer Toyota Camry I turned to the Dark Side and seen the light.
  9. Well in my life I owned a 84 Chevette, 84 Ford Topaz, 91 Cavalier, 89 Sunbird, and now a 90 LX Stang. This by far is my fav and now I'm a Mustang Fan. Except for a few silly issues, mostly the previous owner did being abusive to the poor car, and me fixing it up. I love it.
  10. My '84 and '88 both are in the 150k group now, both still show the original crosshatching in the blocks, both are turbocharged, both are cool! Really strong great engines. Just buy an SVO, be patient and find a clean one and be willing to travel for better selection and price. That way you won't have to turbocharge later like every single member on the board ends up wanting to do.
  11. i agree with everyone...2.3l mustangs will last forever if taken care of. i have a 87 2.3l lx with a little over 41,000 org. miles....and it's been the best car i've drove!
  12. 2.3L rocksolid, T5 a must!

    The 2.3L OHC motor is pretty stout. The crank is hung on 5 main bearings so there is one main on each side of every cylinder. The rods are pretty close to those found in Chev 350s in size.

    I had an '82 Capri 2.3L w/ rare 5-spd tranny and I ran that car into a pole dead centre front!(damn Canadian winter). With 275 000k (170,000mi) on it, the car was towed to a local j-yard where they started it and it still ran!

    Also, my bro (friend who use to help me cause ****, back-in-tha-day!) had a 78 Merc Bobcat 2.3L C4 auto. The timing belt blew one day, but because of the high tolerance of the 2.3L the valves and pistons didn't try to mate. Any Japanese car would've been engine-soup in that situation.

    And the parts are cheap and plentiful <--bonus!

    Some pointers to 2.3L long life
    1) change the oil as recomended by Ford
    2) don't drive it if it's overheating...Fords run hot enough
    3) plugs and wires every 10 000mi ensure easy starting every time
    4) if EFI regularly check for codes and fix any sensors (par for any EFI car)

    As for as the T5 goes, get one, no no no to the Auto! I haven't seen a blown T5 behind a 2.3L yet, even a turbo one. Any shortfalls of the T5 are probably from neglect or poor technique!
  13. they are tuff
  14. 2.3L N/A the gateway motor. just like weed leads to carpentry the 2.3 N/A Leads you to Turbocharge.

  15. :lol: :lol:
  16. Weed whats that? :drool:

    LOL :banana: LOL :banana: LOL :banana: LOL :banana: LOL :banana: LOL
  17. Mine's about to hit 250k miles.The a/c is acting up.I need new tires again. I get 29 mpg @ 75 mph...at least.80 miles a day. I love mine! :D
  18. I just bought mine last month for $25. Mine is an 85 2.3 n.a. with a 4spd. it has 180,000 mi on it. It bairly ran but after i tuned it up it was lots of fun. With new plugs and wires and such its back up to its top notch 88hp. LOL. As for how reliable, they seem to run or they dont, if you find one that has made it past 80,000mi it will most likely go anohter 100,000 or so. Others die long before, it seems to be a toss up, i guess it depends on what day of the weak your car was built on...... Be forwarned, buying a cheap car is good but if your like me you get stuck modifing it like all the rest. So far i have tuned it up, then put in a new clutch set, and then a hedman header. Next will be mini stock intake with holly 5200 series carb. I always seem to do that. why cant i leave well enough alone. But ya, i have had mine for only a lil bit now and im going to be driving it 11 hrs from CT to Va to visit a freind. If thats not faith i dont know what is.
  19. The 2.3, in terms of reliability, kicks major ass. Of course, like any other car, you need to maintain it, but otherwise they are tough little buggers. I've got 120,000 miles on mine, i've driven it HARD for two years, and I drove it cross-country, without changing the oil for a year, and it still ran fine. Down on power, of course, but it still ran. I recently got 330 miles to a tank, with a gallon still left, so I would venture to say my car gets about 350-355 a tank. So, my car is getting 24mpg.

    The greatest thing of all for the 2.3 is the way the timing belt is set up. If it breaks, the valves won't go into the pistons. I don't know of any other engine that does that.
  20. I have the highest mileage 2.3 here! (so far). It has 290k+miles (1991)on it without a rebuild. There are no weird noises that come from the engine, it is a little weaker than it used to be but that is to be expected. She doesnt burn oil but she does leak a bit.

    The only things that are attached to the engine that have been replaced are the exhaust manifold(cracked and replaced with ranger header), the engine mounts that wore out, one broken timing belt, and the oil pump and pan gasket(this was done while still under warranty).

    The big weak point was the transmission as it used to be an automatic. I changed that out last summer and is still a very reliable car. The complete lack of power is kind of frustrating at times.

    As for gas mileage, I get poor mileage but that is just my driving style. A 3000 RPM shift is being conservative for me. I regularly shift at the 4000RPM range and often yellow or redline it. That makes for a thirsty engine.