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Old 09-21-2015, 03:19 AM   #1
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Having a few different problems with my ZX3!

Hi there, new to the forum and wanted to ask a few questions about the car. First off, it's a RHD Ford Focus 1.4 LX (110,000 mile).

Recently, the car "overheated". The cars temp gauge went to extreme red. It was pulled over and stopped nearly immediately where it stayed for a day. Came back the next day and it was all fine. I'm guessing the temp sender is on the way out. Anyone have any input? Since then, the car has been losing coolant like there's no tomorrow. It just disappears somewhere without leaving a wet patch under where it's parked. At the same time, the fan will stick on in traffic or out of traffic. Once it starts, it usually doesn't stop either. Any clues as to what to look at?

I think the starting motor is going as quite regularly, there's a horrible grinding sound when the car is started. I reckon it's on the way out too. Just mentioning incase it's all connected.

Another issue we're having is that the cars idle isn't very good. It hunts a lot when stopped. I've been advised on a few things from this front. Fuel filter, coil pack and vacuum leaks (do a smoke test).

This car is by no means dead meat, I just wanted to speak to some people who knew and think what the think would be the best method of attack. The first issue with the coolant is probably the worst. The car just needs a few hours of loves and she'll be perfect again!

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Old 09-21-2015, 05:38 AM   #2
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Idle problems, hard starting, loss of coolant and overheating sound like a water pump problem to me. You should also check to be sure that you're not burning coolant from a head gasket problem because you could have multiple problems. If you can't smell coolant from the exhaust, then it is not likely to be a head gasket problem. You should be able to smell it, and see more steam coming out of the exhaust than normal. This might require the engine to be warmed up before it is really noticeable. Some steam is normal when the engine is warming up.

To check the water pump, locate the water pump pulley at the front of the engine, and then check around it to see if you can find signs of leaking coolant. When water pumps are going bad, the shaft will leak coolant out of it's snout. This is usually deflected by the pulley, and then splattered all over the timing cover. You should see white residue, and some obvious liquid coolant residue after a short drive on a warmed engine.

Another issue with older vehicles and overheating is the coolant overflow cap. When this cap goes bad or is loose, the engine will lose coolant while driving after it heats up. This coolant will flow out of the overflow, and won't stain anything. If you suspect this, you can simply replace the cap. It shouldn't cost much. To test the theory, if you're one who doesn't like throwing parts at cars to fix them, roll up some paper towel, and stuff it in the bottom of the overflow where it is in there tight enough not to fall out. Now drive the vehicle until it warms up. Check the paper towel, and see if it is still there. One of 2 things will happen if you have a bad cap- the cap will leak around the cap, or the paper towel will be ejected from the overflow tube. Usually the last is what happens. You can also drive the car for a short distance until it warms up with a full coolant system, then park and watch, shortly after stopping the overflow should start spurting coolant.

If your temp gauge was bad this is how it would act- during a normal drive the engine will suddenly overheat to the max that the gauge displays. Engine running symptoms will not indicate overheating- no spark knock, loud engine noises, extremely hot hoses. You can watch the actual temp referred to the engine computer using the electronic odometer trick to display engine temps while driving. Key off, press and hold the odometer reset button. Turn key on, continue to hold the reset button until the odometer reads [test]. The gauge needles will jump around, and the odometer will change to read [gage]. Now each time you press and release the reset button you'll scroll through one of 30 test functions. You are looking for one that reads [15 C] or something similar depending on the ambient temp and the temp of the engine at the time of the test. Now drive the car. Normal operation will show the coolant temp to rise up nearly to the temp of the thermostat- 94 C- then drop, and repeat until it settles around 115 C or so. A bad temp sensor will suddenly jump to ridiculous temps like 200C which if those existed in the real world would be instant engine death, melted hoses, etc.
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