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Old 12-23-2012, 06:47 AM   #1
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Engine cutting out with no codes on scanner

Hey all,

I purchased a 2000 Focus SE with the DOHC Zytec engine for my family a few weeks ago. 110,000 miles and looked like new inside and out with a low price because it needed some work. I have my own shop, but mainly work on heavy equipment. I have never had an issue that I just can't figure out - until this car.

When I bought the car the check engine light was on and the car had a strong misfire.
The valve cover was leaking and had oil on the plugs and wires.
When I got the car home I plugged into the scan tool and it had a code for a mass air flow sensor and cylinder 4 missfire.

I cleaned up the oil and replaced the valve cover gasket.
I replaced the spark plugs with bosch finewire platinum plugs.
Replaced the spark plug wires with a lifetime set from Orileys auto.
Replaced the coil pack with a new lifetime coil from Orileys.
Replaced the mass air flow sensor with a new sensor.
Installed new fuel filter and did oil and filter change.
Serviced auto transmission with new filter and fluid.
I filled the almost empty fuel tank with premium from Chevron where I always get my fuel with no issues.

The car ran perfect for about 40 miles, then started cutting out under load for about two seconds, loosing power then run again, then cut out, then run. The symptoms continue without letting off while driving under load. However, when in park (it's an automatic) There are no symptoms. So it runs great in the shop while at idle or at any rpm, but as soon as I test drive it cuts out.

I have plugged in the scan tool and have no codes pending or stored, no check engine light. I pulled all the plugs and they look good, all the plug wires are tight and snapped on properly, the wiring connectors to the coil pack and mass air flow are snapped in properly.

I triple checked everything and drove out for a test drive, while cold the car had no symptoms, but as things heated up to operating temperature the symptoms came back with a fury. I was actually concerned that I might not make it back without walking.

Not sure what to do next. Any Ideas?


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Old 12-23-2012, 07:05 AM   #2
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It sounds like your fuel filter is getting plugged starving your engine of fuel when accelerating. It's won't do it when it's in park because the car isn't trying to suck as much fuel through plugged filter.

Plus and I don't know why, but check engine lights never seem to come on when your filters plugged.
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Old 12-23-2012, 07:27 AM   #3
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These cars have issues with the coils that extend beyond the actual coil itself. Check the coil power wires that plug into it. Pull on each individual wire in the connector to see if one is loose. Sometimes those will simply pull out. There have also been people who've had problems with the wiring going to the coil. If some of the factory clips are missing that particular loom can get too close to the EGR feed tube- and you know what happens next.

Start with the easy stuff bro- check the negative cable if you think it's a total electrical issue, and I'd check that either way. We have had those come loose from the engine, and the whole car's electrical grounding out through the ground strap that goes to the back of the head. That sort of stuff is rare, but cheap to check.

Alternator problems are similar to the coil problems. The plug-in connector fails sometimes, and aftermarket VRs tend to be weak. We recommend a local rebuilder, whom I'm sure you know of one since you work in heavy equipment. Check that plug-in like you'd check the coil, and definitely check the wiring back as far as you can as we've had people with wiring issues as far as 1' from the alternator.

At least you dodged the bullet by getting a Zetec not an SPI engine. If you'd had an SPI, then there might be compression issues to deal with.

Finally, you'll notice there is no FPR. This is a returnless EFI system. What looks like it might be an FPR only has 2 hoses coming out of it, and it's called the fuel pulse damper. You'll notice there isn't a Schrader valve either. To check fuel pressure you'll have to familiarize yourself with some of the electronic odometer functions. It's fairly easy, although I mostly use it for voltage monitoring, and checking lights. Key Off, press and hold odo reset button, turn key on, continue to hold until odo reads [test]. Now you're in test mode until you turn the key off, so you can monitor voltage while driving. Each time you press and release the the odo reset button, you scroll through one of 30 test functions. The voltage one looks like [bat 12.1], fuel pressure looks like [FP 30] in Kpas, IIRC. There are others, but there's no sense in me telling you anything more than what the readout looks like because the order changes from year to year. The DTC function is worthless, use your scanner.

I do not personally recommend Bosch plugs. Autolite seems to work better. If they work for you, then ok.
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Old 12-23-2012, 08:04 AM   #4
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Awesome information. I will work through all these directions one at a time and I will let you know what I find. Thank you!
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Old 12-23-2012, 01:20 PM   #5
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Pull the spark plugs and replace them with Autolite XP5364's (double check that # but IIRC it's the right ones).

Zetec's don't like much besides Motorcraft and Autolite plugs.
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Old 12-23-2012, 06:24 PM   #6
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There was a recall on earlier cars ('00, '02?) for fuel pump filter in tank clogging up to make car run bad under load. Both cars I have did it, I had to pull tanks and clean out the sock on pump. Ford simply replaced fuel pumps for it. Happens if ethanol used in the fuel, water based crap clogs sock, clean it with water.

Most noticeable sign of that will be if the missing gets worse on freeway off ramps at speed, especially to the right and with tank low on fuel. As problem gets worse it will show everywhere when motor under load and fuel level will begin to be irrelevant. Or on a quick snap turn like turning quickly out into the street from say a parking lot.

Like he said, look at coil power supply plug good, the harness was made too short and the pulling by MAF connector cracks the coil wires right there at the plug. Easy to overlook thinking you've checked it.
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Old 12-23-2012, 07:12 PM   #7
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Ok, so I found the problem. I took the advice and checked the coil connector plug. The plug was great, but the wires that run from the harness to the plug had moved when I changed the coil out. The wires melted and grounded out down low to the exhaust gas recirculation pipe on the drivers side of the engine.
I really appreciate all the help everyone!!!
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Old 12-24-2012, 01:22 AM   #8
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Yeah, we forgot that one, another common issue on these. Whynot didn't though, sharp as a tack.
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