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Old 02-25-2013, 09:39 PM   #11
1sloho
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Im gonna say look at the coil pack also. My car was hesitating and stumbling as well. Mine had a nice long crack along side. Changed it out with a new one and the stumbling went away.

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Old 02-25-2013, 11:44 PM   #12
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Hey Cindy the female (heh - just kidding - you keep saying that in your posts)

Let me take this opportunity to kind of walk you by hand through a diagnosis on this.

For an engine to fire you need 3 things - fuel, spark, timing. if one of these is wrong the engine either won't run or will misfire.

In the olden days a misfire could be any of those things. In modern times the engine computers have pretty much taken care of bad timing - while it can happen is is very rare - and you really need someone very skilled with a timing light and diagnostic ability up the wazoo to find a timing problem caused by the computer. I don't think most techs anymore even know which end of a timing light to point at the engine, let alone what a timing light looks like.

So that leaves fuel and spark. Let's talk about fuel. Most of the time fuel misfires are caused by fuel starvation, like a weak fuel pump or restriction in the fuel line. But, a fuel-based misfire has a couple of characteristics that your not listing. First, as engine LOAD (load, not RPM) increases it generally gets worse. For example you can sit in the driveway and race the engine to 4K rpm and nothing happens - but you get to 2.5K rpm going up a 6% increase hill and the engine runs terribly.

So that leaves spark, AKA ignition.

Well first of all, you can just forget everything you have been told by your brother on that. Sparks plug wires can look perfect but be bad. They can even ohm out perfect but still be bad although that is less common. They can leak voltage which if you run the engine at black night and mist some water on the plug wires while the engine is running it will make it obvious. And they can develop flex cracks that open when the wire is bent while in the harness but close when it's out on the bench and your testing for it. Unless you have had a lot of experience testing plug wires, the best advice for most people is to just go buy a new set and throw the old ones into a box under the bench, if you think that there's a problem there.

And coil packs can look perfect but go bad. A coil pack is a bunch of very fine wire all coiled up. It runs very hot - a lot hotter than the cooling system. In fact 225 Farenheight is cool for a coil but most engines are about ready to boil over then. Over time the very thin insulation in a coil CAN break down under heat and develop holes, and adjacent wires can short against each other.

Coils also all resonate. It is perfectly in character - although unusual - for a coil to have an internal short that gets really bad at a particular frequency (rpm) because whatever is shorting in the coil happens to resonate at that frequency.

A coil can work perfect with a crack in the side. Just because there's a crack there does not mean it's bad, and just because there's no cracks there does not mean it's good. Obviously if it is cracked it's likely to fail much sooner.

While it is possible to pull a coil out and test it on a bench with a spark gap and a frequency generator, it is not a good test because your not subjecting the coil to the heat and vibration that it gets under hood.

The only way to really test a coil pack is to replace it with another one that you know is good. And there's not 100% guarentee that a brand new one from the parts store is going to be good.

And one last thing, Cindy. Let me just submit this for your consideration. Way way too many people who don't go through formal engine repair training lack a grasp of engine fundamentals because they think that everyone else out there working on engines just sprang from their mothers womb knowing all that stuff, and they are too embarrased to admit that they really don't understand how the things work.

Just because you don't own a wrench or even want to get grease on your hands does not mean you can't learn how a basic 4 stroke engine works. (the kind you have in your car) the library is full of books. Read a few and you will start to understand when people are shooting from the hip. Being female does not excuse you from using your brain.
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Old 02-26-2013, 04:51 AM   #13
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Thanks for this!! I dont' use the excuse that I'm female. I have been reading everything I could find online to find a solution. The problem has been that no one explains it like you just did! Trust me, I belong to a VW, Pathfinder and now this focus forum for information. I have used them all to pinpoint problems with my other two cars. For the past two days I combed the web for ideas and solutions, before I joined this forum. Things were very vague and web answers from fixya and yahoo etc...never really answered any questions. You just did, and seeing how it is 5am here and still dark outside I am going out to spray my plugs with water and watch for sparks. If I see them, I will go buy a set of wires and put them on. Do you have a suggestion on which brand to buy? I will probably go to either NAPA, Autozone or Advanced Auto for them. I live near all 3 places. Will let you know if I see any sparks and thanks again for the great explanation and something to try to test the plugs other than just looking at them.
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Old 02-26-2013, 05:27 AM   #14
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WAIT!!!

What engine do you have? Yes, the posts above are correct, and I too believe that the problem is something simple. However, you might want to take the "old guy" up on his offer to purchase the car back if your car has the SPI engine. The SPI engine will have "Split Port Injection" written on the valve cover. If it does, give it back. If your engine has Zetec written on the valve cover, then it's ok, see what you can do about replacing plug wires first as that's the cheapest thing and I personally always recommend and purchase new lifetime warranty plug wires on cars when I first get the car.

Remember SPI = bad, run from car.
Zetec = good, keep car.

In case you were wondering, SPI engines have factory faults where the valve seats fall into the combustion chamber some time over 100k miles. This typically results in engine destruction. SPI engines are not available in junkyards for cheap replacement as a result of this sort of damage. Most people go through the trouble of converting SPI cars to Zetec because it is cheaper and easier to purchase an engine and transmission (or wrecked donor car) than it is to find an SPI.
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Old 02-26-2013, 05:29 AM   #15
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I saw spark!!!! I'm so excited if I wasn't 60 years old I'd be doing back flips lol. It was small but being dark it was enough to see it. Only coming from the wire in cylinder 2 about 3 inches down the wire from where it connects to the spark plug. I will await your response on which wires to buy before I go buy them. Then later today, I will prepare the faulty wire for my brother to have for dinner!! If they are a lot cheaper to order online, can you give me the website to get them from? I can still drive the car until they get here if it's a big difference in price. Thank you so much for the help, and will let you know if this has solved the problem completely although I'm sure it probably will. *Fingers crossed*
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Old 02-26-2013, 05:31 AM   #16
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whynotthinkwhynot....It is a zetec engine!
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Old 02-26-2013, 05:41 AM   #17
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Cindy....................now there you go. When I purchased my 04 back this past December, the First thing I did for my zetec was change out everything ignition.....plugs, wires & coils....cause I had no idea what the previous owner did or didn't do. As a rule of thumb for me, unless its someone who I know I can trust....I don't take any chances. Atleast I know what I've done to My engine. You are on the right road now. These guys in this forum are awesome!!! -Bobby-
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Old 02-26-2013, 05:43 AM   #18
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Now, I'm going back to sleeeeep........
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Old 02-26-2013, 05:44 AM   #19
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I agree completely Bobby! I found NGW wires at NAPA for 28.69....I want to get the best ones so I don't have to worry about this again in the future. Heading to auto zone now to see what brand they sell. Is there a specific brand I should look for? Someone mentioned lifetime wires?
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Old 02-26-2013, 05:49 AM   #20
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I personally don't have a particular preferrence on a stock engine. Anything with ' lifetime warranty" should work. Later.
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