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Old 09-14-2012, 09:02 PM   #1
pje65
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1st/Reverse/Drive by Wire?

Hi, everyone.

I bought my car in late May. I'm glad I bought it and enjoy driving it. However, I've been fighting 1st gear on certain days and can't figure out why. I suppose I should preface this by saying that I've been driving manuals almost exclusively for most of the past 30 years, though I inexplicably decided to buy a Prius for my last car. I had that for 5 or 6 years. I've never had any problems with any gears before. I've driven, at various times, a few Toyotas, a few Hondas, a Mazda or two, even my mom's 1986 Hyundai Excel, the worst car I've ever driven. However, I've never driven an American manual before, and I've never driven a drive by wire manual before either. Here's what's going on:

1) I read somewhere on here that you can go backwards in reverse without any gas, and that this has something to do with the drive by wire. Well, it's true that you don't need gas. I haven't used any ever since I read that. In fact, even without any gas, I find myself going MUCH too fast in reverse. It's faster in reverse than any other car I've ever driven. This is a big problem in parking lots, esp. when you're parked between two large SUVs and can't see a damn thing when you're trying to back up. So, I find myself riding the clutch, something I've never done before. I suppose I could brake as I take my foot off the clutch, but I just can't seem to get my head around doing that. Is anyone else experiencing anything like this?

2) First gear is completely normal on some days but unpredictable on others. It's been warm the past couple of days--around 80--and the car's been extremely smooth in all gears on both days. When I've had the air conditioner on, I've had mixed results. Sometimes it drives fine. Sometimes, it will start moving, then suddenly become very sluggish, as though I'm driving through a patch of sand. Then it will be OK after that. On a couple of days, I've fought 1st gear all the way to work. There doesn't seem to be any pattern to these behaviors. I've started warming the car up a little bit in the morning. That seems to help a little bit with the reverse issue. However, I can't imagine that this could be the main cause of my issues, as the coldest it's ever been in the morning since I bought the car has been around 50.

So, I guess I'm seeking input. I'm wondering if I'm fighting the car a little bit because the computer is trying to do things for me that I'm not expecting it to do. I test drove a MINI before I decided on a Focus, and I'll never forget sitting there in 1st gear with the clutch in. When I took my foot off the brake, it went forward. Very strange. Does this car do things like that too? On the other hand, is it possible that my manual driving skills have eroded over the past 5+ years? Any ideas?

Thanks,

Pete


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Old 09-14-2012, 09:06 PM   #2
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Have you gotten all the new flashes for your car?
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Old 09-14-2012, 09:26 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pje65 View Post
1) I read somewhere on here that you can go backwards in reverse without any gas, and that this has something to do with the drive by wire. Well, it's true that you don't need gas. I haven't used any ever since I read that. In fact, even without any gas, I find myself going MUCH too fast in reverse. It's faster in reverse than any other car I've ever driven. This is a big problem in parking lots, esp. when you're parked between two large SUVs and can't see a damn thing when you're trying to back up. So, I find myself riding the clutch, something I've never done before. I suppose I could brake as I take my foot off the clutch, but I just can't seem to get my head around doing that. Is anyone else experiencing anything like this?
This is something that should be able to be done with any manual transmission in cars and motorcycles. Finding the clutch engagement point without using the accelerator pedal is the first thing you should do when learning to drive manual transmissions. Drive-by-wire has nothing to do with this. I've always ridden the clutch pretty heavy in reverse. I've been driving manuals for 16 years and haven't needed to replace a clutch yet.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pje65 View Post
2) First gear is completely normal on some days but unpredictable on others. It's been warm the past couple of days--around 80--and the car's been extremely smooth in all gears on both days. When I've had the air conditioner on, I've had mixed results. Sometimes it drives fine. Sometimes, it will start moving, then suddenly become very sluggish, as though I'm driving through a patch of sand. Then it will be OK after that. On a couple of days, I've fought 1st gear all the way to work. There doesn't seem to be any pattern to these behaviors. I've started warming the car up a little bit in the morning. That seems to help a little bit with the reverse issue. However, I can't imagine that this could be the main cause of my issues, as the coldest it's ever been in the morning since I bought the car has been around 50.
Did you buy new or used? There's a technical service bulletin that's been around. I'm not sure if this is limited to build dates or not. I had this done a couple weeks ago and have noticed a huge difference. I haven't had that sluggishness since, but the car does want to launch a little quicker. I hope this helps you out some.
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Old 09-14-2012, 09:49 PM   #4
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Are flashes and TSBs the same thing? Would they be listed under outstanding recalls? Ford says that there aren't any current recalls for this car. I bought it new. Etis says the build date was 5/13/12, but that was a Sunday.

As far as riding the clutch in reverse goes, I guess I've always done that a little bit. However, this car goes much faster than any other car I've had. Perhaps it's because it has a lot more HP than the other manuals I've driven, which, other than my '00 Civic (127 HP, I think), were mostly built in the '70s and '80s. They had a lot less power. Still, if I didn't ride the clutch in my Focus, I could literally run someone over in reverse without having my foot on the gas. Is that normal? In other cars I've driven, I'd initially find where the clutch engages by gradually releasing it with no gas. However, with those cars, releasing the clutch completely would invariably make the car stall or perhaps limp along very slowly. This car takes off when I do that.

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Old 09-14-2012, 09:53 PM   #5
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Quote:
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Are flashes and TSBs the same thing? Would they be listed under outstanding recalls? Ford says that there aren't any current recalls for this car. I bought it new. Etis says the build date was 5/13/12, but that was a Sunday.

Pete
They are working 7 days a week on 3 shifts (2x 10 hr mon -friday with the C-crew rotating in on the weekends, and at least one or two evening shifts during the week.
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Old 09-14-2012, 10:08 PM   #6
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Wow, they must be moving a lot of product. I thought it was a typo.
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Old 09-14-2012, 10:18 PM   #7
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They are working 7 days a week on 3 shifts (2x 10 hr mon -friday with the C-crew rotating in on the weekends, and at least one or two evening shifts during the week.

exactly... nope no typeo to the OP.. i work at the plant and A crew works M_TH 6-4:30... b crew works Tu-Fr 6pm-4:30am...c crew works Fri & sat 6am-4:30pm sun and mon 6pm-4:30am... so your build date can be any day of the week except holidays. I dont remember the exact date, but we fired up the 3 crews right around that time.
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Old 09-14-2012, 10:26 PM   #8
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We love our Focus. Thought I read somewhere where the Focus was the top selling car in the segment now.
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Old 09-14-2012, 11:01 PM   #9
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I've never driven a car that allowed me to fully release the clutch in reverse without going way too fast ..and I've owned 14 cars equipped with a manual transmission. It's totally normal and acceptable to slip the clutch when you're backing up. It would take you a very long time to wear out a clutch by slipping it with the engine at idle speed. I have no explanation for the sensation you're getting on first gear launches other than the traction control may be kicking in. Turn off traction control, go for a drive and see if it happens again.
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Old 09-14-2012, 11:25 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pje65 View Post
1) I read somewhere on here that you can go backwards in reverse without any gas, and that this has something to do with the drive by wire.
The "engine computer" (PCM) will open the throttle to some degree when you apply a load to the engine and you have your foot off of the accel pedal (i.e. it tries to maintain a "target" RPM).

In most cases, I wouldn't slip the clutch unless I was trying to back up on an incline. Rather, I would use the clutch pedal to get the car rolling backwards and then clutch in.
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