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Old 12-24-2016, 03:46 PM   #1
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2008 Ford Focus undetectable intermittent start problem

Hi guys,

Just opened an account here after looking at a few threads which are similar to my problem.

I really need all the input i can get and any will be massively appreciated.

This car has cost me a lot of money over the last year, nearly its whole value. Apart from seeking possible fixes from you I'd also like to know what you would do if it was your car, would you get rid of it or keep trying to fix?


So here are the details of the car to start with.
- 2008 Ford Focus Style 1.6
- Petrol
- Automatic
- 30,000 miles on the clock

Short version of whats wrong with the car and important notes:
- Mostly heat related starting problem
- The car drives perfectly
- The ECU is not the problem
- Disconnecting the ECT sensor will get the car to start almost 99% reliably although rough starting and sometimes starting then stalling out immediately will occur sometimes.
- ECT sensor has been replaced
- Crank sensor has been replaced
- No fault codes ever found
- Taken to three garages, one being the main Ford dealer.
- All wire connections from the ECU have been checked.
- Grounds have been checked.
- It has been confirmed by Ford that the fuel injectors are not getting a signal to work when not starting/cranking.

Here is some in depth detail about the problem:
The car is in pristine condition, it has never had a days problem until about 18 months ago.
One day it wouldn't start. After cranking many times and waiting for a while it started and nothing much was thought of it.
Month after month the problem became worse and worse. At first it only occurred when the engine was hot. Now it will happen when it has been sitting for a while and completely cold although it is definitely heat related since when the car warms up to operating temperature it is impossible to start unless you wait for it to cool down, or it just magically decides to start.
When this problem became quite bad about 8 - 9 months ago I decided to take it to a garage.

The garage said they had checked everything which of course might not be entirely true and after about 3 -4 weeks of diagnosis and such they deemed the ECU to be the culprit, they sent the ECU off to a testing company and it came back as not being faulty. Long story short the problem persisted and the ECU was sent off 3 more times after being received back each time having not fixed the starting problem.
Now they had actually said that they confirmed the fuel injectors were not getting a signal to open when the car was cranking.

After the last time they got the ECU back they gave up on the car and told me i needed to get rid of it because they had done everything they could.

I decided to take the car to another garage after this.
This garage immediately changed the crank sensor and of course the problem was still there.
After this I was getting very annoyed and decided to look at the car myself.
I don't know much about cars but I am handy with electrics so I started doing some online research.
After some messing around I found that disconnecting the ECT sensor will get the car to start perfectly 99% of the time with occasional rough starting and starting then stalling straight away, having found this I took the car back to the second garage and asked them to replace the ECT sensor. They did so and the problem was still there.

After this failed I lost faith in garages and decided to get an autoelectrition to look at the car. He spent about 12-15 hours on the car and gave up, he actually had a ford ECU that was compatible with my car and swapped them over to check whether its the ECU or not and surely enough the problem was still there.

I thought I'd try one more thing which was to take it to an official Ford dealer and get them to look at it. This proved to be no use as they looked at it for two weeks and gave up again. However they also confirmed that there was no signal to the fuel injectors when the car wasn't starting.


Thank you very much for helping!


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Old 12-24-2016, 04:06 PM   #2
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No 1.6 Focuses sold in North America but I'll offer some general observations:
You've narrowed down the fault to the engine coolant temp sensor circuit - that makes sense. (It would be a hard start if engine temp was not being taken into account by the ECU). The circuit consists of more than just the end sensor though; it's also the wiring that connects the various bits of that circuit. I'd get hold of a wiring schematic and start checking continuity of those wires with a multimeter or have a roam around the engine bay and look for obvious wiring problems.

Repair shops loathe to spend time tracing electrical faults because it's finicky and time consuming so, in my experience, they usually default to blaming/replacing the rarely-ever-fails ECU (which is a sure sign of desperation). I'm guessing you'll probably find the fault is burnt wiring, a chafed wire or something similar. I sympathize. If it's any consolation, once found, the fault can usually be fixed in a few minutes with a couple of dollars (pounds) worth of electrical tape/solder.
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Old 12-24-2016, 04:49 PM   #3
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Thanks for your reply.

I know what you mean and you are totally right about garages being slack on diagnosis and probably everything else apart from part changing!
Unfortunately the ECT circuit has been checked and is all as it should be. I would have been happy if it was something like that because its not too complex to fix.

Since everything has failed so far I've been considering putting a switch in for the ECT sensor so when the car doesn't start i can just flick it and it should work every time (hopefully)
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Old 12-24-2016, 09:33 PM   #4
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I recommend reaching out to FordTechMakuloco (Brian) via Facebook. He's a Ford expert and very thorough. Also has a popular YouTube channel.

Sent from my A0001 using FF Mobile
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Last edited by mp470; 12-27-2016 at 02:12 PM.
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Old 12-27-2016, 01:56 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mp470 View Post
I recommend reaching put to FordTechMakuloco (Brian) via Facebook. He's a Ford expert and very thorough. Also has a popular YouTube channel.

Sent from my A0001 using FF Mobile


Thanks MP I'll certainly reach out to him asap!
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Old 01-27-2019, 10:42 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joepaldein View Post
Hi guys,

Just opened an account here after looking at a few threads which are similar to my problem.

I really need all the input i can get and any will be massively appreciated.

This car has cost me a lot of money over the last year, nearly its whole value. Apart from seeking possible fixes from you I'd also like to know what you would do if it was your car, would you get rid of it or keep trying to fix?


So here are the details of the car to start with.
- 2008 Ford Focus Style 1.6
- Petrol
- Automatic
- 30,000 miles on the clock

Short version of whats wrong with the car and important notes:
- Mostly heat related starting problem
- The car drives perfectly
- The ECU is not the problem
- Disconnecting the ECT sensor will get the car to start almost 99% reliably although rough starting and sometimes starting then stalling out immediately will occur sometimes.
- ECT sensor has been replaced
- Crank sensor has been replaced
- No fault codes ever found
- Taken to three garages, one being the main Ford dealer.
- All wire connections from the ECU have been checked.
- Grounds have been checked.
- It has been confirmed by Ford that the fuel injectors are not getting a signal to work when not starting/cranking.

Here is some in depth detail about the problem:
The car is in pristine condition, it has never had a days problem until about 18 months ago.
One day it wouldn't start. After cranking many times and waiting for a while it started and nothing much was thought of it.
Month after month the problem became worse and worse. At first it only occurred when the engine was hot. Now it will happen when it has been sitting for a while and completely cold although it is definitely heat related since when the car warms up to operating temperature it is impossible to start unless you wait for it to cool down, or it just magically decides to start.
When this problem became quite bad about 8 - 9 months ago I decided to take it to a garage.

The garage said they had checked everything which of course might not be entirely true and after about 3 -4 weeks of diagnosis and such they deemed the ECU to be the culprit, they sent the ECU off to a testing company and it came back as not being faulty. Long story short the problem persisted and the ECU was sent off 3 more times after being received back each time having not fixed the starting problem.
Now they had actually said that they confirmed the fuel injectors were not getting a signal to open when the car was cranking.

After the last time they got the ECU back they gave up on the car and told me i needed to get rid of it because they had done everything they could.

I decided to take the car to another garage after this.
This garage immediately changed the crank sensor and of course the problem was still there.
After this I was getting very annoyed and decided to look at the car myself.
I don't know much about cars but I am handy with electrics so I started doing some online research.
After some messing around I found that disconnecting the ECT sensor will get the car to start perfectly 99% of the time with occasional rough starting and starting then stalling straight away, having found this I took the car back to the second garage and asked them to replace the ECT sensor. They did so and the problem was still there.

After this failed I lost faith in garages and decided to get an autoelectrition to look at the car. He spent about 12-15 hours on the car and gave up, he actually had a ford ECU that was compatible with my car and swapped them over to check whether its the ECU or not and surely enough the problem was still there.

I thought I'd try one more thing which was to take it to an official Ford dealer and get them to look at it. This proved to be no use as they looked at it for two weeks and gave up again. However they also confirmed that there was no signal to the fuel injectors when the car wasn't starting.


Thank you very much for helping!
Hi from Virginia... We have a 2014 Focus with a history of faults. We just barely had the clutch system replaced under warranty and the BCM replaced (at our expense). We now have an intermittent problem in starting. I read several forums (I am an experienced mech and have worked on Cars/Trucks/Heavy Equipment for over sixty years) and finally replaced several of the (factory weak) grounds on the battery, block and cylinder head. This one-hour fix (using ten or eight guage wire with terminals bolted) eliminated nearly all of the electrical/electronic issues. Now to the starting issue: Simply jumping in and starting does not always get the engine running. We now turn the ignition to the on position, wait a few seconds for the system checks to finish, then, gently and quickly bump the key to the start position and release the key to the on position. This method will normally get the car to start within three attempts (cold or warmed up). Hope this info helps.
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Old 01-28-2019, 08:48 PM   #7
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Joepaldein,
Is this an intermittent no crank or intermittent crank/no start?

Paul
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Old 01-29-2019, 03:04 AM   #8
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Hi Paul. Thanks for the interest. It seems that I am now down to an intermittent open in the starter solenoid or a fault in that (plastic) ignition switch. Being the ignition switch is the least expensive (in coin and time) I have ordered it and will be replacing it today. I am experiencing a moderate (not the normal hammer sound) click in the solenoid each time I go to start indicating that it is not holding firm to complete the circuit (i.e. - no spin) to the starter motor. Dreading replacement of that, but just in case I have a new one in hand.
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