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Old 09-22-2012, 03:45 AM   #1
cri33
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2007 Focus ZX4 SES "whine"?

I recently bought one of those. I have already read about engine vibration. I hope its the passenger side motor mount like I have read. However now I get a sort of high pitched noise at about 62-63 mph on the freeway. Quite audible. If I slow down a little it goes away. If I speed up a little it also seems to go away.
I also get a sort of random erratic high idle on cold start. I would also like to fix that if not too expensive. Would greatly appreciate any input. Other than those issues its a decent little car, if a little cheap on the inside. Almost makes me want to restore/fix my old car which has none of These problems...just sort of worn out.


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Old 09-22-2012, 11:57 AM   #2
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Engine vibration can have more causes than simply a bad motor mount although that is an often overlooked maintenance issue. An even more common cause is an engine that is not running correctly. All vehicles need routine maintenance- even modern vehicles. Most people have the oil changed regularly, but that's about it. To keep a vehicle running correctly you still need to check and or replace:

1) Fuel filter: every 20-30k miles or 1 year.
2) Spark plugs: 100k mile platinum plugs don't last 100k miles, so check every 30k, clean, regap, or change about every 60-80k. Cars that are driven less should have plugs changed at 60k or sooner.
3) Air filter: Yours is a lifetime filter, but if you check in your owner's manual, there is a method to check to see if it is working like it should be. Nothing lasts forever, which is why Ford switched from lifetime air filters to a replaceable 25k mile paper filter in 08.
4) Plug wires: In your case, coil boots that connect the plug to the coil. These last 80-100k miles, but should be inspected when inspecting plugs.
5) MAF cleaning: You should clean your MAF at every oil change. This will help keep fuel economy as high as possible. When the MAF is dirty, it doesn't read all the air coming into the engine, and that will decrease your fuel economy. We have directions on how to do that, and it's very easy to clean with a can of $5 spray MAF cleaner.
6) AT filters: Newer ATs with synthetic fluids don't dirty like the older vehicles, but still need to be checked regularly and changed regularly. All the same AT fluid issues as old cars had are still relevant in modern transmissions. If you smell something like rotten fish from your fluid, or it smells burnt- it should be changed. If the fluid is very dark- like oil, then it should be changed. I DO NOT believe that flushes are worthwhile or even needed. IMO, simply changing the filter when the fluid is burnt should be fine. In the case of the fish smell, all the fluid should be changed and you might need a "flush" to do that. You should check fluid level/condition regularly- as much as you check oil- because at any time a leak could develop and cause severe transmission damage if you run on low fluid for extended periods of time. Typically, you won't need a new filter until 60-100k miles, and you may never need a complete fluid change. Changing the filter changes 60% of the fluid.

OK, I always recommend that everyone do their best to make sure that their vehicle is running in it's best condition before trying to figure out anything else over the internet. That might be your entire vibration problem, and certainly an engine that isn't running in top condition will make a bad mount more noticeable. If you've been missing any of these routine maintenance procedures, then catch up, and see what a difference that makes. If your air filter tests badly, we don't recommend that you replace it with a $300 filter from Ford. Most of the time we simply remove the lifetime filter and replace it with an over the counter 3.5" cone filter for $30. I also add a couple of loose polyester leggings over the top of it to decrease water spray infusion.

This will help alleviate some of the causes of low idle/uneven idle which will make vibrations more noticeable. There are other things to check, but let's start here. Just to peak your interest- other causes can range from old batteries, alternators going bad, to IAC's that need to be cleaned. That's why it's important to keep up on routine maintenance so we can move on to diagnosing other problems.

The alternator worries me the most right now because a whine might indicate an alternator that is going bad, and that might be part of your erratic idle problem. The first thing you should do is to verify if the noise is from the drivetrain or the engine. If you have a tach, then note the engine rpm when you hear the noise. Stop somewhere, rev the engine to that rpm, then hold it there and see if you hear the whine. Alternators tend to go out anywhere from 60-150k miles. Bad alternator bearings can cause whine and a drag on the engine, and low alternator output will cause uneven running conditions because changing voltages on sensors confuses the ECU.

We have tests we can tell you how to do in order to watch your alternator voltage, or if you have no tachometer, we can tell you how to watch your idle through the electronic odometer so you can verify if the whine is is related to the drivetrain or engine.

Um.... way too much information, sorry, LOL this happens when I'm doing 50 things at once- babysitting, giving car advice, watering, fertilizing, washing dishes..aaaah the domestic life.
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Old 09-22-2012, 12:21 PM   #3
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Thanks but....

way too much information.

I will check for alternator wine but it only occurs at around 62 mph. I don't even hear it around town. The car easily passes smog so I don't think it is a misfire or something like that or it would probably show up on the smog readout. I tend to think it is a bearing but somewhere else but I will check nonetheless. The car has been (reportedly) well maintained. It is nearly flawless on the inside and out and does get good gas mileage. However I think maybe next time I may get a Japanese car. I have always been dubious of american cars (esp economy cars) and these problems tend to reinforce that feeling.
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Old 09-22-2012, 01:22 PM   #4
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If you think that Japanese cars don't have annoying mystery problems, then good luck with that. I've been working on cars for 20+ years. Everything breaks, and everything has problems. The only difference I see is that when someone hears something like that whine in a Japanese car, most people ignore it because it's a Japanese car, and so there can't be anything wrong. In an American car, it's a sign of imminent destruction- right? Sell the car immediately. Why bother with repairing something that is going to break?

You can use the electronic odometer trick to find what rpm your engine is holding at 62 mph. Check our How-To's in the blue banner above this message window for the Electronic Odometer trick under Miscellaneous. You only have to turn the key from off to on, not start the car like the How-To indicates. As long as you don't turn the key off, it will remain in test mode.

A more serious cause would be the carrier bearing on the rt side CV axle. That one will eventually produce more and more vibrations while driving but you won't notice changes in vibration with anything but speed. To diagnose this one, you have to lay under the car and grab the axle to see if there is any movement in the bearing.
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Old 09-22-2012, 01:40 PM   #5
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whine

I have also worked on cars for a long time; I majored in auto mechanics. I am not saying I know everything but my old car is a Mitsubishi Eclipse and never had a problem with it. Ever. It has 119K on it and aside from normal maintenance it has been problem free. I did replace the starter and alternator recently (at around 110k) but that is to be expected. The Focus has 45K on it. I know its an economy car so its cheaper. I have owned Hondas and Toyota's also. I know they are not perfect either but I still feel that the Japanese cars are better overall. You are free to disagree. Anyway I do NOT want to get into an argument/debate about this. That was not the purpose of the post. I was looking for suggestions/experience on what the noise is so I could possibly avoid a trip to the garage but that may be unavoidable. I will investigate the alternator. That is all for now.
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Old 09-22-2012, 02:05 PM   #6
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its rare to find a car built in Japan or China, many cars have parts from all over the world. All comes to if it is a good design, well made parts and such.. 2000-2010 Focus is a TANK, 2011-now having issues.

I had a Volvo with nothing but issues, I had a Toyota with issues, Nissan and many many others...

My focus I BEAT on VERY hard and replace anything that breaks with stronger parts or OEM and I am to a point its hard to break it.

All comes down to Luck.. If your car was built well ( try not to buy one built on a Friday or Monday LOL )

Everyone will have opinions and all cars are like people. Same Mother never means same results, so no matter who you get a car from will always come down to luck and cost.
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Old 09-25-2012, 04:43 AM   #7
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Hi,

I just bought my first car, the Focus Ambiente 1.6L six speed automatic, model year 2012. I have done 3500 kms and am faced with an unusual noise. It could be either the engine or the drivetrain, but it is a shrill and just audible. It is the kind of sound one can expect to hear when driving if the radiator cap came loose (thats not the case though), like a metallic vibration. It dies off when accelarating and is absent when idle, but is there when deccelarating or cruising.

I took it to the dealer, but they couldnt identify the problem. Can someone make any helpful suggestions on what could be the problem?
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Old 09-25-2012, 05:02 AM   #8
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Please start your own thread.

That's really hard to diagnose with that description. No matter what your problem is, you should know how to duplicate it, and be able to duplicate that sound 100% of the time before you can take it in to be serviced. Repair shops need this in order to be able to fix cars. You can't diagnose a problem otherwise.

I can't even guess what it could be myself. Maybe brakes, maybe a pulley, I could go on with maybes.
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Old 09-25-2012, 05:07 AM   #9
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Well noted. New to discussion forums, wasn't aware of the rules. Sorry about butting in then.
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