Focus Fanatics Forum banner

1 - 11 of 11 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hello... I have an '03 ZTS that has been having nothing but problems for a year.
Known current problems with the car: Needs a rack & pinion - power steering leaks, control arms and tie rod ends are shot.

Here is the latest symptom, that has been slightly intermittent so the mechanic hasn't duplicated it (it just started last week): Whine noise, randomly (& not every time I drive it), that sounds like an ailing power steering pump (which makes sense)... NOW this noise is also accompanied by an exhaust/toxic smell that comes through the vents and emanates from the engine in general. When I first smelled it I thought I was behind someone with a nasty exhaust leak, but its less sweet smelling than exhaust and more toxic. Makes me gag in seconds if I turn on the vents or roll down my windows at a stop light.

It can be there right at start up or start after its warm and while driving. No pattern.

Also, twice now, at start up (one warm & one cold) the RPMs fluctuate dramatically for a minute, dipping so low the car either wants to die or does die.

I'm wondering if power steering fluid could be leaking onto a belt or something? He says they haven't found anything and without acting up...no way to know for sure.

Anything I can use to help the mechanic find the issue - I can't take driving an unsafe car anymore!
 

·
8 DAY HOMECOMING
Joined
·
13,107 Posts
Are all your fluid levels where they are supposed to be? Power steering that is low can cause a squeal type of sound. Thats what fixed it for me.
Do you know where the PS is leaking from?

As for the idle and wanting to die, I think that is the IAC, can look at the TB (throttle body) as well to see if its sticking.

As for the smell....Im not sure. Just check to see if everything it hooked up, no cracked hoses, etc.

No codes being thrown is there?
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
44,595 Posts
Any leak onto the exh. can make for nasty fumes, could be related to the power steering fluid leaks OR the more common leaking valve cover gasket onto the exh..

Coolant drips can make another nasty smell when they hit a hot exh., one more thing to look for.

Looking for crud baked onto the exh. is one way to find where it is happening, start at the top to see if oil is seeping from the top of the engine (valve cover) onto the exh. at the front.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
The sound is the same type of power steering pump sound...however it is unaffected by anything I do with steering... In fact the noise accelerates/decelerates as the car does. The noise may not be the pump, that's just the only thing I KNOW to associate the sound to - it sounds like an electric motor whine.

The power steering fluid does have to be filled on a semi-regular basis. 2 weeks ago I found it empty and filled it. As of 2 days ago its down about 1/2". I have kept some towels under the car to check for anything leaking and nothing was found over 4 days.
I don't know where it is leaking from (the mechanic might, they found the leak a few months ago).

The coolant levels are good although I haven't looked at the coolant quality.

The oil was down about a quart over 5k miles and very dirty. It is being changed while it is with the mechanic on this current evaluation and I will monitor it more closely...Until now I have not seen it get this low between changes...maybe just a little.

No codes being thrown unfortunately.

I hate to fix all the known problems ($1500 in repairs) which aren't urgent (well they sort of are, if you like keeping control of the car) if there is something worse - like whatever is causing this noise and toxic fumes.

Someone mentioned heater core issues and my searches on that are leaving me with more questions.

The intermittency makes this more baffling.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
44,595 Posts
Heater core issues are usually pretty dramatic & easy to diagnose.

The "sweet" small is distinctive & fogging of the windshield usually happens, doesn't clear as it usually would.

Some whines that coincide with RPM can be from anything driven by the serpentine belt. Power steering pump is just one of those items, and even pulleys that don't drive anything themselves are on the list.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
That is good information - while it doesn't narrow anything down at least I have more information now.

Thank you for your help!
 

·
what it be like
Joined
·
6,381 Posts
i had a lose bolt on my water pump pully and it made a horrible sound! check that out! but if i was you I would change that power steering pump you said the res was empty that could of kiled the pump and change the serpentine belt whenever u can...how many miles on the car?
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
44,595 Posts
That is good information - while it doesn't narrow anything down at least I have more information now.

Thank you for your help!
Yeah, doesn't narrow a lot, but at least you can prob. remove the heater core from the guesses. Nothing in the symptoms mentioned points that way.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
21,250 Posts
Whine noise, randomly (& not every time I drive it), that sounds like an ailing power steering pump (which makes sense)... NOW this noise is also accompanied by an exhaust/toxic smell that comes through the vents and emanates from the engine in general.
I think you need a new serpentine belt and tensioner. The tensioner will come with a pulley on it. The belt is likely what you're smelling. Newer EPDM belts last for a extremely long time, and some mechanics have not gotten the memo that the fabric will not show through the back of the belt when it's bad like the old neoprene belts we've been so used to for so long that were similar to the cotton/rubber V belts that our dad's car had.

EPDM belts wear on the other side, and don't crack off ribs like the neoprene serpentine belts did. It will look good up until the time it shreds into thin strands.
 
1 - 11 of 11 Posts
Top