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Old 01-06-2013, 04:19 PM   #1
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Oil in Cylinders, Failing to cold start

Hi all,

I have a 2007 Ford Focus SE 2.0L with 79K miles.

I have been having some issues that started about two weeks ago. My engine would fail to cold start, unless you tried multiple times and gave it gas when turning over.

I do live in Milwaukee, WI so the weather has been below freezing.

Once that car was started you could turn it on/off again and again without problems, runs fine on the road, does not blow smoke, and I have not noticed any significant power loss. The problems would start again if you let it sit for several hours.

To troubleshoot this issue I've:
- Replaced The Battery
- Ran seafoam through the fuel system
- Cleaned out the throttle body
- Changed all 4 spark plugs

When I took out the two middle spark plugs I was horrified. Both were covered in un-burnt oil.. and when looking down into the middle two cylinders i could see oil pooled. The outside two cylinders were fine.

My cold start issues remain.

What could be causing the cold start issues? How can I diagnose the oil issue? How do I know if the middle cylinders are even running? What are my long term risks if I do not fix the oil issue?

Thanks for any advice or insight.


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Old 01-06-2013, 04:41 PM   #2
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Moved to General Technical Chat. Duratec Performance is for chat about any Duratec 23, 23E, and 20 engine performance, tuning and exhaust related upgrades.

Thanks for posting.
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Old 01-06-2013, 04:45 PM   #3
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Are you sure your valve cover gasket isn't bad? Maybe when you removed the plugs the oil ran into the cylinders. If there was that much oil like you're saying you would be blowing blue smoke out of the exhaust.

I would do a compression test and pull the valve cover to inspect the valve cover gasket.

I do believe there is a TSB on the cold start issue. I think the fix was an update to the stock tune on the ECU.
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Old 01-06-2013, 04:52 PM   #4
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Yeah, your problem is going to be the valve cover gasket. Oil leaking in around the spark plugs from the bad gasket will seep up the coil boot and cause the spark to short out. I highly suggest that you get a new valve cover gasket before you end up KOing a coil. The coils are $90 each.

You might want to get some coil boots. Those cost $5-8 each, and are easy to replace. Mine went out about 80k miles.

The valve cover gasket is not hard to change. Don't be intimidated by not having an in-lb torque wrench. The valve cover has metal collars in the screw holes so the only way you will over tighten it is to be trying to break something. The most important thing about tightening down a new valve cover gasket is to be sure that you start tightening down from the center in an X shaped pattern to the outside edges. Never start at the outside working to the inside.

These gaskets are super easy to replace- it's a molded gasket that fits into a slot. Use a screwdriver to lightly pry up the old gasket, and pull it out, then press in the new gasket. That's all you have to do.
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Old 01-06-2013, 05:30 PM   #5
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On anything with spark plug tunnels I ALWAYS look inside before removing plugs. If enough oil or water in there, when it runs in after you yank the plug, there could be enough fluid in cylinder to hydrolock and break or bend a rod. Any dirt in tunnel also swept in by the oil. I generally blow out the tunnels before yanking plug too, you'd be amazed what gets in there even with a normally covered top.
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Old 01-06-2013, 05:44 PM   #6
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Really good info. Just changed plugs, found some oil, will change gasket. Thanks.
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Old 01-18-2013, 03:39 PM   #7
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So, I changed the oil in my car the cold start issue appears to have gone away.

I had Royal Purple 5W-30 and a Royal Purple extended filter installed, with about 8K miles on it (a little over due, I know..)

Could dirty oil really be the cause of my cold start issues? Is it worth sending my oil in for analysis?
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Old 01-18-2013, 04:37 PM   #8
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no and no
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Old 02-01-2013, 02:26 PM   #9
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Well my cold start issues are back, and it is once again very cold in Milwaukee (-3F). My car would not start at all last night, would die as soon as my foot left the gas.

I ended up taking it to the shop. They are telling me that is likely the MAF sensor, since the sensor was reading the temperature as -60 which is obviously not right. As soon as they warmed it with their hands the temp jumped to 70F on the computer. So it appears to be malfunctioning.

They want about $300 to replace it with a new sensor.

Is it worth replacing the sensor? Does anyone else agree that this sounds like a probable cause to my issues?

Last edited by Snigle; 02-01-2013 at 03:28 PM.
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