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Old 10-06-2013, 04:35 PM   #1
Cudarich
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2003 2.3L Duratec woes. Need some insight.

Hello everyone. Let me make a quick note to explain myself. I've use this forum and others before for reference when working on my fiance's focus, but I am now at a point where certain maintenance is required where I need some focus experts input.

We have a 2003 2.3L duratec Foucs SE with 139000 miles on it. I do all of the regular maintenance and repairs on it. I am a Mechanical Engineer with a lifelong passion for motorsports, racing, restoring, and upgrading cars. I have a lifted ram 1500 that I have worked on, repaired, and upgraded extensively, and my DD is a 2008 Mazdaspeed3 that is fully bolted.

Now onto the issue at hand, the focus has been a terrific car for us its whole life and is now in need of a little extra care. It has developed a bit of a rough idle and has left me scratching my head a bit.

I began by checking the vacuum lines the best I could and can find no obvious leaks. The one questionable place is here

I'm not entirely sure if this line is pcv or break booster line, but it connects into the top of the intake manifold just behind the throttle body. It seems a little loose, but I'm not sure if its supposed to be or not. If I wiggle this line while the car is idling it doesnt seem to have an effect.

Next, the air filter vacuum indicator gauge thing has recently broken. I pulled all the parts I could out and was left with this
I'm not sure what the part it plugs into is called, as it is not the air filter box. Also, there is a port right below where this vacuum indicator goes that is open: Not sure if anything is actually supposed to connect to this, as I dont see any lines that should be connected to it anywhere.

My final concern is a bad ticking sound I'm getting from the valve cover. I've experienced this before with my truck and have done a complete cam job, replacing cam, lifters, and springs before on my truck. I am curious as to if this potentially bad cam could be contributing to my rough idle situation. If that is the case and I need to do a cam job. What is a good factory replacement cam and is there any kits out there that include tappets/springs/lifters/etc.?

I've seen a few people recommending Crower cams for factory replacements and was wondering if this is the one: http://www.crower.com/index.php/cams...camshafts.html

Sorry if any of these are noob questions, flame if you must, but I would greatly appreciate any input! Thanks!


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Old 10-07-2013, 10:56 AM   #2
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That ticking noise is the imrc, aka tumble flaps, which are in the intake manifold runners. Try undoing the vacum line to the electronic vacum switch on top of the manifold on the drivers side. Another issue is the hose behind the intake manifold= you have to remove the i/m off to get to it. Is there a vacum leak? Does the motor idle smooth or rough? 139,000= its time to replace the air cleaner. A great upgrade is the Steeda sri.
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Old 10-07-2013, 05:01 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by felixthecat View Post
A great upgrade is the Steeda sri.
No Bueno in California...Have to find a used Cosworth...only option for that model and year in CA.
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Old 10-07-2013, 05:35 PM   #4
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I began all of this digging initially because of the rough idle it had developed. I'm not entirely sure where to start.... Is there any schematics/documentation of the vacuum system? My Haynes manual seems to like to skip over most of that system for the duratec. In my OP I mentioned the only questionable vacuum fitting I could find was the one on the top of the intake manifold just past the throttle body. I'm pointing to it in the first pic. As for the air filter, I thought someone mentioned somewhere that it might be under warranty, if not I'll probably fab a stealth air filter inside the lifetime filters box.
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Old 10-07-2013, 08:52 PM   #5
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Have you checked the idle air control valve? Not sure about the 2.3, but on the 2.0 it's on the intake manifold behind the throttle body. Also, search the forum and do some reading on the tumble flaps, as that's a very serious threat to your engine. Pre-2005 Duratecs had an issue with those flaps breaking, and pieces of the plastic entering the cylinders. You didn't mention that the car runs badly, just that the idle is rough, so I doubt your tumble flaps have come apart. However, one indicator that precedes failure is a loud ticking noise. Try to get your ear in there and see whether it's coming from the valve cover or the intake. Keep in mind that the injectors can be quite noisy on these engines as well.

Hey, at least you have a timing chain, right?

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Old 10-07-2013, 10:32 PM   #6
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Thanks for the replies and info. The car runs fine off idle, but once it gets back to idle it intermittently coughs and sputters. It threw a code yesterday, but it was a cylinder 2 misfire, which I chalked up to the rough idle. I checked my plugs and re-gapped them. A few of them were just barely large, but they all looked good. I'll do some homework on these tumble flaps. I'm pretty sure I've played with them on my Mazda... Like little secondary butterflies in each runner, actuated by a vacuum diaphragm right? This weekend I'll go around all the vacuum lines with a spray bottle of soapy water. I think we have a mechanics stethescope at work, I'll bring it home and try to listen to the valve cover and the intake.
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Old 10-07-2013, 10:35 PM   #7
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And Toby, yes timing chain is fine, I'm assuming from your context that these motors are interference fit... I did speak to Dan at fswerks and he said he didn't think it would be all that necessary to replace it and it should last.
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