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Old 01-31-2013, 01:40 PM   #1
katchoo22
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poor running conditions

I apologize in advance if I'm posting in the wrong place.

I have a black 2002 Focus ZTS, 2.0l zetec dohc, MTX-75 5-speed manual, everything stock except the exhaust was modified on purchase (Magnaflow) and low profile mags. The car has 145,000+ miles with poor to no maintenance done until last year. In the last year, I've replaced therm. housing/therm., pcv hose and valve, DPFE sensor, done 3 oil changes and several coolant flushes, stabilizer links, tie rods and ends (needs alignment), heater hoses and yesterday coolant expansion tank. Dealer replaced steering pump years ago under ext. warranty. Clutch was replaced at 70,000. Computer was replaced 3-4 years ago due to Ho2S wiring, which was also replaced.

To start with, the new coolant reservoir came with a new cap. After taking my boys to school this morning, I popped the hood and noticed there was a tiny whistle coming from coolant cap indicating seal is not tight. Now I'm wondering if this is supposed to be? The new cap is like gas caps, clicks when it's tightened, can't overtighten.

The next problem is I have a very rough idle, computer constantly trying to adjust timing. It sounds similar to a vacuum leak (there's a (very small) leak under therm. housing AGAIN and pcv connectors may be bad) and pcv hose from dealer looks as if it's already giving out (replaced about two weeks ago) but I can't find any vacuum leaks. The car shakes real bad but the motor looks steady under the hood. There's also a slight whine coming from the timing belt end (possibly drivebelt or pulleys). Car still has original drivebelt, timing belt, pullies, etc. Idler pulley on drivebelt looks scarred but it's not scratched that I can tell. Belt doesn't look bad. There is a motor mount bracket bolt right above the pulley. It looks like it's sitting on the pulley. I slipped a strip of paper then a strip of cardboard (1/8" thick) through to check clearance. Paper went through, cardboard did not.

Checked passenger motor mount and rear motor mount, both need replacing as does I"m sure the other mount as well. I can see a very slight draw on the electrical system as the idle pulses. The only thing I can find is the air conditioning seems to have some effect drawing on the idle but not much, maybe not much more than normal. Scanner shows no DTCs, no MIL. The live data shows LTFT 10.9 at idle and around 6-7 while driving. STFT seems to be okay. Numbers are high for pre
Cat O2S, but post sensor number looks good. Other than that, all other scan readings look normal, as best I know.

When car is fully warmed up and driven a few miles, it starts getting better. Runs rough at very low speeds and higher speeds but seems to be steadier between 35-45 mph. It feels like it's bumping all over the place and my dash rattles REALLY bad at low speeds and is the same again at higher speeds. RPMs are hanging up with each shift and when coming to a stop and at idle it hangs the longest, taking a few seconds to level out, as you would expect with a vacuum leak. Don't seem to have any other problems with clutch/tranny. Sometimes it's a stiff shift, but most of the time it's fairly smooth. I've checked all grounds and wiring, hoses, etc...don't see anything that looks suspicious.

As I'm very new at mechanics (self-taught this last year - but I carry my Chilton's with me everywhere I go, can recite it practically verbatim lol - and have utilized this forum numerous numerous times to guide me along the way) I don't have the skills yet to diagnose more difficult complications and am hoping that someone will recognize what's going on and share their wisdom. I am not sure at this point where I should start. Alternator? Motor mounts? Belt(s) and pulley(s)? Clutch? Something else?? Could that motor mount bolt be rubbing on the pulley and dragging it slightly, thereby throwing off the other accessories as well as the timing by dragging slightly on the crankshaft pulley? I should also note that something seems slightly off with the cooling system, water pump? Heater is not blowing hot air all the time, no rhyme or reason to it, temp gauge shows operating temp normal, scanner as well, thermostat seems to be opening, no water leaking into passenger compartment, hoses are holding. Just seems like everything that runs off the accessory belt is somehow slightly off.

Please be kind to this little old lady...I'm feeling puny today



Last edited by katchoo22; 01-31-2013 at 03:23 PM. Reason: added more info
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Old 01-31-2013, 03:23 PM   #2
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I neglected to mention that I put new plugs in about six months ago, wires don't seem to be a problem. I also had a question regarding the oil separator. Is this something that can plug up and, if so, what would the symptoms be? Is there any way to clean it without taking out the exhaust manifold?
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Old 01-31-2013, 04:09 PM   #3
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For someone who is "very new" to mechanics, you know quite a bit!

If your motor mounts are visibly bad, then a good starting point is to replace them and then reassess the rough idle. It's a common topic on this forum, and many of us have had poor luck with aftermarket mounts. So, the conventional wisdom is to save yourself some frustration and buy the expensive Ford parts - at least for the passenger side (hydraulic, ~$125) and the driver's side (tranny mount, ~$75 for my ATX); less expensive from Tousley Ford in MN. If you've worked on the car before, then it's not a horrible job for a do-it-yourselfer. If you search the archive, you'll find plenty of tips.

BTW, if a pulley is rubbing on another piece of metal, then there should be telltale wear marks as well as localized heating, on both parts; test on a cold engine with the engine off so that you don't burn/lose a good finger. I'm not sure what the normal clearance is between the parts on a ZTS; if you have a digital camera with a "macro" focusing feature, then you could post of photo of it.

As far as the radiator cap: mine was also hissing and sometimes leaking coolant. Turns out it was over-torqued (plastic thread fatigue). Try unscrewing it (careful!!) about 10-30 degrees and see if that helps.
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Old 01-31-2013, 08:14 PM   #4
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Thanks. I will post some pics and if I can figure out how maybe a video clip of how it's running, but I might have to wait until tomorrow morning for the video. I've noticed that everyone boasts up Tousley, so I will definitely take your advice on that.
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Old 02-01-2013, 01:53 PM   #5
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I'm having trouble locating my video camera - doh! I'll try to get pics up of the bolt and pulley and video clips of the idle issue this afternoon. In the meantime, I'm ordering the motor mounts, all three just to be safe. I tested my alternator out last night in the dark w/the lights on. I turned loads on and off, etc., and there is nothing wrong with my alternator per se. I double checked positive battery cable. It had some corrosion underneath where I couldn't see it. I cleaned both post and tightened both cables snug and there's no change. So I'm convinced it's not the battery or alternator at this point. Still stumped, welcome any thoughts, guesses, whatever you can fling my way.


Still struggling with the same problems, but they seem to be getting worse. I noticed today that the idle goes bad when I depress the brake pedal and returns to a more normal sound when I release the brake pedal, so I read through some threads on the brake booster vacuum hose. I'm going to check that now, then replace the passenger motor mount and take it from there. I really suck at electronic gadgets (cameras, phones, etc..) so I'm still struggling with photos and video. but since i'm going to be moving the coolant reservoir, I'll be able to get in there better and look at that bolt and pulley. Also, my husband got a shock twice while trying to reach his hand down between the firewall and the air duct. I double checked the grounds again, brushed them off, and they all seem to be fine. I'm definitely running lean, sometimes a little, sometimes a lot.



Update: I replaced the passenger motor mount and OMG WHAT A DIFFERENCE!!! I didn't even recognize my car. Thanks, my_beautious_ZX3. I wanted to change out that mount, but I wasn't sure it was a priority. My car is so quiet now and no vibration at all. Now I can focus (no puns intended - HAHAHA) better on the other issues. I got a good look at the idler pulley and the bolt. The bolt actually goes into the head, not sure of it's purpose and, although it only has maybe an 1/8th inch clearance, it doesn't appear to be affecting the pulley at all. However, the pulley looks like crap and there's a real faint whine from the alternator, I think. I'll update as I figure things out. Thanks for the help.

Last edited by katchoo22; 02-04-2013 at 12:56 PM. Reason: update
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Old 02-04-2013, 01:12 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by katchoo22 View Post
I replaced the passenger motor mount and OMG WHAT A DIFFERENCE!!! I didn't even recognize my car.
haha, yeah, that's the response alot of us had when we replaced it. The passenger-side hydraulic mount seems to fix the bulk of the vibrations, so you might not notice as drastic an improvement after you replace the other two mounts.

Also, if the old mount was causing alot of vibration and/or noise, then it might have been covering up some other smaller engine/drivetrain quirks. So, don't be surprised if - after you get accustomed to the new solitude - you start noticing new noises or vibrations. They were there all along, but dwarfed by the bad motor mounts.


Quote:
since i'm going to be moving the coolant reservoir, I'll be able to get in there better and look at that bolt and pulley.
the same is true for the opposite side of the engine compartment - when you replace the driver's side (tranny) mount, you'll need to remove the airbox (and maybe battery cradle). With the airbox, intake runner, and cradle out of the way, you'll have good visibility on all of the components shoehorned in there, in case you're having problems with anything in that neighborhood. Eg., I'm not sure how a ZTS engine compartment is arranged, but that might give you better access to the brake booster. (It's also a good opportunity to slide your hand along the PCV hose to feel for cracks, which is a common Focus problem.)
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Old 02-05-2013, 01:49 AM   #7
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Make sure to replace the dogbone (torque) mount right away. In my opinion when those fail the increased rocking of the engine in the compartment is responsible for disintegrating the passenger mount. If it is this much better than maybe your trans mount is OK but it's easy to get at and check.
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Old 02-05-2013, 05:45 AM   #8
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I'll start at the beginning.

Quote:
Originally Posted by katchoo22 View Post
I apologize in advance if I'm posting in the wrong place.
Nope, General Tech chat is for maintenance sorts of stuff. If you want to ask about a new intake manifold or air intake to get more zoom zoom out of your car, then Zetec Performance is the forum.

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Originally Posted by katchoo22 View Post
I have a black 2002 Focus ZTS, 2.0l zetec dohc, MTX-75 5-speed manual, everything stock except the exhaust was modified on purchase (Magnaflow) and low profile mags.
You mentioned a lot of stuff, but I didn't see the typical "tune-up" items. Tune up: Plugs (Motorcraft or Autolite work best), wires, fuel filter, air filter, clean MAF, reset A/F ratio. In your case I would add cleaning and inspecting the IAC, possibly replacing if the IAC plunger doesn't seal. I think cleaning will be fine. I wouldn't suggest replacing it just yet because your idle symptoms can be explained by other issues.

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The new cap is like gas caps, clicks when it's tightened, can't overtighten.
Engine coolant systems must be sealed to 6-7 psi or so. That's what keeps the coolant from boiling. These engines run well over the boiling point of water, and probably right up to the boiling point of coolant. 116C is when the low speed fans turn on, 118 is high speed.

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The next problem is I have a very rough idle, computer constantly trying to adjust timing.
Yeah, probably a vacuum leak somewhere. The PCV is our usual suspect, but there can be others. As old as the car is, I would inspect each and every line. Trace them down, remove from vehicle, plug one end, and blow into the other end. Rubber parts- bend to expose cracking and dry rotting. Replace as needed. There are not many vacuum lines in this vehicle- it won't take that long.

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The car shakes real bad but the motor looks steady under the hood.
You got that one- right? Motor mounts can be tricky. You will be wise to quickly replace the other 2, and to follow the correct procedure for lining the mounts up. Also be sure to jack the engine enough to float the mounts while you tighten the bolts that hold the mount to the engine. You shouldn't be lifting the engine with the mount bolt.

Quote:
Originally Posted by katchoo22 View Post
There's also a slight whine coming from the timing belt end (possibly drivebelt or pulleys). Car still has original drivebelt, timing belt, pullies, etc.
That timing belt is probably most of your idling problem. When the belt gets old, it stretches slightly, and this changes the valve timing and the ignition timing. It can also move around while it's running. You should look in your manual about how to inspect a timing belt. I will also suggest purchasing a water pump to go along with this repair. There are some great prices on timing belts at RockAuto.com. Most of that job is work. You can do it- we can help! It's really not all that difficult.

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Idler pulley on drivebelt looks scarred but it's not scratched that I can tell. Belt doesn't look bad.
Yeah, your manual won't tell you that in the early 00's, parts makers went from old neoprene belts to newer EPDM belts. EPDM wears differently. Check it out at Gates Rubber website online. Instead of the back wearing off, the ribs wear off.

Quote:
Originally Posted by katchoo22 View Post
I can see a very slight draw on the electrical system as the idle pulses.
Or it's just not putting out enough sometimes. Your alternator is suspect at this mileage. Also check the connections of all the wires that go to the battery. Be sure to disconnect the negative terminal before you go checking the positives. As far as alternators go, I always recommend a local rebuilder. Support your local economy, get a better job done, and save money. Those who replaced multiple lifetime warranty alternators in a year agree- go local for electrical rebuilds. The reasons are well documented on this site, so I'm not getting into it. It has to do with business models.

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RPMs are hanging up with each shift and when coming to a stop and at idle it hangs the longest, taking a few seconds to level out, as you would expect with a vacuum leak.
Yeah, you'll have that until you get everything sorted out. Just ignore it for now. It might be a sign of a bad IAC, but until you have crossed everything out and still have idle problems- I wouldn't worry about it. The main test for the IAC- does idle remain steady or go up when the AC is on- seems to be failed from your description, but it might be the timing belt, plugs, wires, coil- who knows. Let's test and worry about other stuff before getting back to the idle. Otherwise, you're wasting your time. Concentrate on what you can prove is bad, and let the rest of it wait. Let me add that prove means diagnose- not following crackpot internet advice. Never throw parts at a vehicle to fix it- unless you're rich, then pay someone else- right?

Quote:
Originally Posted by katchoo22 View Post
As I'm very new at mechanics (self-taught this last year - but I carry my Chilton's with me everywhere I go, can recite it practically verbatim lol - and have utilized this forum numerous numerous times to guide me along the way) I don't have the skills yet to diagnose more difficult complications and am hoping that someone will recognize what's going on and share their wisdom.
Hogwash. I will make no comment on the wisdom on this board......You're just not asking the right questions to the right people. All this stuff can be tested. You'll get good at working on cars with this one. It seems as if it is going to have problem after problem due to its age and neglect. Start with the more serious problems- timing belt, accessory belt, alternator, and then down the line. First off, go ahead and get those other 2 motor mounts changed. Start a new thread asking advice about how to do those last 2. Otherwise you'll end up killing the passenger mount, and then you'll be back to where you were.

Next we'll work on how to diagnose your timing belt. I would actually think that should be done at this mileage. Typically around 120k is when it goes, and people usually get it repaired, and then sell a car.

BTW, you drastically need a very cheap and easy part- the fuel filter. That's part of routine maintenance. It's probably not all of your problem, but it's part of it. Ask about that, or follow our How-To.

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Old 02-05-2013, 02:50 PM   #9
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Thank you SO MUCH for taking the time to pull apart my long post. I really do appreciate it. I replaced plugs about six months ago, haven't done wires or coil but check them regularly and they seem ok. I replaced therm. housing/therm about a year ago, have flushed cooling system several times and am still getting a lot of rust, had a friend fabricate the tube running across the front from the heater hoses after the plastic one blew hot coolant all over my engine compartment. The radiator was replaced about three or four years ago so not in bad shape. DPFE sensor replaced about 6 months ago. Recently (last 2-3 weeks) new air filter, new oil/filter (x3 this year, oil looking very clean now), new pcv filter, pcv valve, pcv hose from dealer with heat shield, new clamps on all. Today's my birthday and I'm going to post this then spend the rest of the day with my face stuck in my motor and the rest of them can figure it out on their own (7 kids and a hubby)...MUAHAHAHA!! I have a new fuel filter, just hadn't had the chance yet, so I'll put that in today and do the other two mounts, double check wiring connections and grounds, check voltages. Can I release the tensioner on the drivebelt and take it off and check it and the pulleys that way? I'd have to do that to take the alternator to the parts store to check. I also believe I would have to remove the drivebelt in order to check the timing belt but I'm not certain. I'll inspect the clutch and fluid while I'm at it as I have had a leak. I'm going to remove therm. housing to get to that little pcv connector underneath, no other way I can find to get in there from top or bottom. If I'm reading my scan tool properly, the first O2S is reading high and the LTFT is high. I have a can of MAF cleaner. I'll do that as well as throttle body. I'll let you know if anything changes and see where to go from there. Thanks again.
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Old 02-05-2013, 07:13 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by katchoo22 View Post
Thank you SO MUCH for taking the time to pull apart my long post. I really do appreciate it.
I type fast.

Quote:
Originally Posted by katchoo22 View Post
I replaced plugs about six months ago, haven't done wires or coil but check them regularly and they seem ok.
The coil problem is usually described as a miss at idle. I don't consider a miss to be a miss unless the CEL flashes or stores a code. Anyway, cracked coils and wires pulling out of the coil plug-in are typically the cause. We have also seen wires damaged in the harness away from the coil. Always make sure that your wiring is far from things that are hot like the EGR feed tube.

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Originally Posted by katchoo22 View Post
DPFE sensor replaced about 6 months ago.
Sometime when you have the time, you can remove the EGR, clean it, and test it. If you want to get really funky, a shop vac and a long screwdriver can clean out the EGR port. It will be clogged with black solid carbon. The EGR will be packed with that as well. Clean off what you can, then use a piece of vacuum line to suck lightly- the amount of air to fill one cheek- and that will actuate the EGR if it is working correctly. If you hear the air suck out- replace the EGR. I doubt you have this problem as it causes specific running problems engine cold or hot. When cold the engine will run rough, and you'll have hiccups, misses, and pinging when warm.

Quote:
Originally Posted by katchoo22 View Post
I have a new fuel filter, just hadn't had the chance yet, so I'll put that in today and do the other two mounts, double check wiring connections and grounds, check voltages.
That's a lot for one day. Anyway, the fuel filter is deceptive. Lots of people think that you have to remove the clips to remove the filter, but that's not how it works. You should press the flat white rectangle IN and wiggle to release the line. If you remove the clip from the line, eventually it will break. On the passenger side, the clip can't be reached at the filter, so you follow the line back about 6", and you'll see a clip you can remove easily, remove the filter with that small section of line. If you have an O'Reilleys nearby, their Microguard filters come with the new style clips- in case you break one.

Quote:
Originally Posted by katchoo22 View Post
Can I release the tensioner on the drivebelt and take it off and check it and the pulleys that way?
Yes, of course. Simply use a wrench to rotate the tensioner. Be careful, it can bite you!

Quote:
Originally Posted by katchoo22 View Post
I'd have to do that to take the alternator to the parts store to check.
Not really, and I don't like that most of their techs can't do the test properly anyway. I would use the electronic odometer trick to observe alternator voltage if a problem is suspect. Other than that, I'd just wait until it goes out- unless it makes noises, or if you rotate it, it feels lumpy. Like I said, ask around, and locate a local rebuilder. It will save you $$$. The pulley alone is $85, and might not need to be replaced.

Quote:
Originally Posted by katchoo22 View Post
I also believe I would have to remove the drivebelt in order to check the timing belt but I'm not certain.
Not at all. At the top of the engine, there is an inspection cover that covers the timing belt. Remove that. To fully inspect all of the timing belt, follow this procedure. Use a permanent marker to mark all the belt that you can see. Look for webbing showing through, rubber missing from the back of the belt, and ribs missing from the underside. Now you can unplug the coil if you want, but if you follow the emergency start procedure, the engine won't start. Key off, press and hold the accelerator to the floor, bump the engine. Go check the belt again, and mark again. Keep that up until you have marked up the whole belt. Any sign of damage is a good reason to plan to replace the belt. If you can still read writing on the back of the belt, then it was probably changed before you purchased it.

Quote:
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I'll inspect the clutch and fluid while I'm at it as I have had a leak.
Eh.... no you're not. Your leak there is at the clutch slave cylinder. You can't reach it, see it, and you don't want to change it until you have to do a clutch, then I recommend it with every clutch. Monitor your fluid leak, and when you need to add fluid, do so. If you end up with air in the slave so that it won't shift, keep a 10mm wrench in the glove box. At least I think it's a 10, it's what you need to loosen the bleeder nipple on the slave cylinder. In your case, I'd loosen it at home with a socket, then snug it so you can loosen it without damaging it if you need to. Snug is fine for bleeder nipples. Ok, so remove the reservoir cap. Now, open the bleeder, as long as you are on level ground, you should see a bubble, then fluid. Close, you should lose just a tad of fluid, and that will keep you going for a while. I used to have to do that on a Probe about every 3 months. Keep some fluid and a rag under the hood somewhere that it can't tip over or fall out.

Quote:
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If I'm reading my scan tool properly, the first O2S is reading high and the LTFT is high. I have a can of MAF cleaner. I'll do that as well as throttle body. I'll let you know if anything changes and see where to go from there. Thanks again.
Yep, like I said, just wait on those fuel trim issues until you figure out if the timing belt is good, and change the fuel filter.
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