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I couldn't find another place this was appropriate, so I hope this is the right one. Let me know if it isn't and I'll fix it.

General background, unnecessary if you just want to get to technical stuff: I don't actually own the Focus, it's my sisters. However my whole family relies on it, and we all chip in on costs for repair/gas/etc and we cover the cost of insurance and stuff like that. Unfortunately she acquired it when it had 200k miles already from a tow yard for $700 because it was stolen from the previous owner, driven a few hundred miles away and the owner had written it off with their insurance by the time the car turned up. Also, I'm not especially mechanically knowledgeable. I'm capable of twisting a wrench and happy to learn whatever though. And generally I'm good at researching things, but I may ask obvious questions in response to some lingo or technical terms that I'm not familiar with.

On with the story of the tech. Broken down tech list after.
So the cars been having trouble for a long while now. It suffers when it's hot, and more or less refuses to run when it's hot out. As I live in SoCal this makes things especially finicky. We've had a cheapo little OBD2 scanner than has helped us a tiny bit, but mostly in that it would give us vague codes and let us clear them. The codes it spat out for a long time said that there was a misfire on cylinder 4. As far as anyone can tell this is because the spark plug and the cable that connects to it aren't nearly as friendly with each other as one would hope. So you used to be able to go readjust the cable, clear the code, wait for it to cool down and it'd run for a bit again. The scanner itself isn't great for a multitude of reasons, not least of which is it's limitations in what it can read in terms of issues and that it's not especially keen on outputting multiple issues if there are any. And we've known that the misfire on 4 wasn't the only issue by a long shot.
Well, that stopped cutting it. Friday we did the whole process after it died on us a few miles from home. Mostly it involved sitting around in the car waiting for it to cool and hoping we could limp it home. My dad thinks it sounds like it's not getting enough gas, or enough air. One of them. Uncertain which. And on the way back it kept stalling and then it stalled once and we started it back up and the smell of gas filled the air. And it stayed with us all the way back, which although there was only about a mile left it was about 20 minutes due to stalling and that the car couldn't go above 15 MPH.
When we got home he took it apart a bit and tried to determine if it was the fuel pump or what. It was inconclusive, but he thinks it is.
Since the car was really DOA this time, and since getting professional diagnostics would cost a bunch just in towing there and back let alone the cost of the diagnostics it was decided that we'd order a new, better scanner on Amazon. It got here yesterday and it works loads better than the other one, only issue is that it says the ECM crashed. As well as a bunch of other things - I'll get to that in a bit. We cleared that code and the car pretended to run better for a couple minutes before it crashed again.
So now we're looking at getting an ECM. And while both my parents are mechanically minded they're not comfortable or knowledgeable about anything when it comes to electronics like that. They're more used to vehicles before that sort of thing was widespread.
Now, it's my understanding that a lot of the issues we've been facing with the car, which I'll list more clearly below, can be caused by a bad or failing ECM. But I'm also not quite convinced of that. And seeing how it's a beat up car with loads of problems that cost $700 and will cost likely a great deal more than that to fix, I'm not convinced it's worth investing in. We're not in a position to be throwing money at issues that may or may not get fixed. Is that true for the ECM? Does this car use the ECM with passive key system to prevent wrong keys? Because that affects cost greatly. If ya'll have any budget but not stopgap ideas on replacing or fixing it that'd be peachy.

As for the aforementioned 'other things' the scanner posted. My dad assumed that I could just print out what he saved on the scanner. Unfortunately it's not expensive enough to have any sort of computer sided interpretation software, only firmware updating software. I do have access to the logs, but they're in .dat files that look like some sort of hex code but I can't get it deciphered through any hex converter. The closest I got has a bunch of legible words that make sense, but there's a lot of gibberish where the rest of the info should be. Do you know how I can get these files to spit out something human readable? I have a Windows 10 and a Linux PC, and a passing grasp of programming so if there's even just kind of "this is how it's obfuscated" would be great, as long as it's not proprietary stuff.
The scanner is the Ancel FX2000, if that makes any difference. I have all the files backed up on my PC. Which is good because when I updated the firmware the scanner kind of busted, so I have to try and reinstall the firmware and fix it. But I don't have time for that at this moment. So I have no way that I'm aware of to interpret the files. Every Google search returns things about unrelated file formats that I'm sure other scanners output but that doesn't necessarily help me.

List of all the issues:
-Misfire cylinder 4, likely caused by poor cable connection with the spark plug.
-Causes the engine to rattle off kilter and feel like it might knock itself off from time to time, likely caused by misfire or wrong gas/air amount or both. But notable.
-Spitting and sputtering like it's not getting enough of either gas or air.
-Issues shifting. Lurches, shifts late, sometimes need to pull off the accelerator and then push back down for it to shift.
-Key gets stuck in the ignition when turned off. Doesn't always happen. Lightly smacking the shifter forward while it's already in park usually gets the car to release the key.
-Overheats easily, not low on any fluids.
-Doesn't have the power to make it up small to medium inclines that go on for more than 50 feet or so. It starts slowing down, losing oomph and eventually stalls.
-Potentially something wrong with the fuel system.
-Despite not making a note of it, and that I can't access it my dad remembers it's a couple other sensors, something to do with the transmission and some other small things that the scanner output.

Small, likely unrelated issues:
-Drivers door doesn't have an outside keyhole. The thief used a screwdriver and broke it.
-Drivers window can't be rolled down without getting stuck.
-One of the AC/heating knobs is missing, replacements from the same model don't seem to work.
-Drivers seat is broken and unadjustable.
-Neither the trunk or hood latch properly with any sense of consistency.
-No functioning hi-beams.
-No functioning horn. Both the lights and horn have no discernable reason for not working.
-Tires are bald and ready to go at any moment.
There's definitely stuff in the big and small categories that I'm not remembering.

I know ya'll can't just know what's wrong. Can't afford to get it professionally fixed, and there's a lot of questions surrounding what's wrong and how to fix when it comes to the DIY route.
Like the ECM issue. Is it possible that it being toast is causing a lot of these issues? Is there any way to tell if our system is the one that requires special passive keys? We found a seemingly reputable place online that provides already programmed ECMs with keys for a relatively good price, but it's still steep. Is there a kind of go-to place in the community to get them that won't break the bank?
We got new cables for all the spark plugs and replaced them. The new cable still has issues properly connecting to the plug. What can be done there? Replace the plugs next?
How do I interpret the .dat files so that it's human readable? Is there a way?
And probably more things I can't think of at this moment.
Let me know if you need more information, and I'll try to provide what I can. Thanks in advance for your help. I'll check in on this throughout the day.
 

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Why dont you all pitch in and buy something else? Seems like alot of problems, some of which could be expensive to fix. To me the car is mechanically totalled. Meaning the repairs exceed the value of the car.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Why dont you all pitch in and buy something else? Seems like alot of problems, some of which could be expensive to fix. To me the car is mechanically totalled. Meaning the repairs exceed the value of the car.
While I completely agree with you, it's not up to me unfortunately. I can't manage buying a car on my own. And no one else thinks it's a lost cause. I'm trying to convinced them they're giving in to the sunk cost fallacy, but they won't listen. Using that old "Better to deal with issues you know than inherit someone elses problems you don't know about" saying when I say we should just get a different car. Which ignores the fact that we don't necessarily know what issues are making the car the way it is, and that by getting it in the first place we absolutely did inherit someone elses problems that we didn't know about. I also think a beater that works for six months while we work out a better vehicle through saving and searching is better than investing in a bunch of maybes that will cost as much or more than the beater.
Regardless of the cognitive dissonance I feel they're experiencing when it comes to this matter, I'm not in a position where I can do more than make my feelings on the matter heard. And so it's more productive to put feelers out to try and learn what I can to help fix it than it is to drag my feet about it.
 

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-Neither the trunk or hood latch properly with any sense of consistency.
-No functioning hi-beams.
-No functioning horn. Both the lights and horn have no discernable reason for not working.
-Tires are bald and ready to go at any moment.
That vehicle is not safe and would not pass a safety inspection in most states. You put yourself, your family, and other motorists at risk if you drive it like that. To make it safe/roadworthy you might need to put in twice (or more) than you paid for it.

Just out of curiosity what engine does it have? (SOHC/SPI VIN code P or DOHC/Zetec VIN code 3)

Paul
 

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That vehicle is not safe and would not pass a safety inspection in most states. You put yourself, your family, and other motorists at risk if you drive it like that. To make it safe/roadworthy you might need to put in twice (or more) than you paid for it.

Just out of curiosity what engine does it have? (SOHC/SPI VIN code P or DOHC/Zetec VIN code 3)

Paul
I definitely agree with you. I'd prefer we got a different car. Just some other beater. But I don't have the money to do it myself, and as I said in another comment everyone else seems to think putting money into fixing the car is the better alternative. So all I can really do is just try to help make it function, and safe for everyone involved as well as passerby.
Autozone's VIN-decoder reads as follows: 2001 Ford Focus 4 cylinder P 2.0L FI SOHC 122 CID
 

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I definitely agree with you. I'd prefer we got a different car. Just some other beater. But I don't have the money to do it myself, and as I said in another comment everyone else seems to think putting money into fixing the car is the better alternative. So all I can really do is just try to help make it function, and safe for everyone involved as well as passerby.
Autozone's VIN-decoder reads as follows: 2001 Ford Focus 4 cylinder P 2.0L FI SOHC 122 CID
A car that wont run is a problem.
A car with bald tires, no high beams, no horn, and a hood that wont latch... 1614030085505.png

Paul
 

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Ignition coil pigtail needs to be replaced. Ignition coil may be bad as well but the pigtail is a known issue on this model. Collapsed pcv hose on the back of the intake is another trouble spot. Everything you mentioned otherwise can be fixed cheaply with salvage yard parts including the tires.
 

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A car that wont run is a problem.
A car with bald tires, no high beams, no horn, and a hood that wont latch... View attachment 309230

Paul
Yeah, for sure. The tires aren't so bald that it's dangerous though. Just it wouldn't be long before they were. And that's too close for comfort for me.
And the trunk + hood do latch. Just not with any consistency. And they don't spring open or anything. You just have to make sure it actually latched. Which as far as I can tell, at least with the hood, has no visible reason why it's that way.
 

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Ignition coil pigtail needs to be replaced. Ignition coil may be bad as well but the pigtail is a known issue on this model. Collapsed pcv hose on the back of the intake is another trouble spot. Everything you mentioned otherwise can be fixed cheaply with salvage yard parts including the tires.
Awesome. I didn't know about the ignition coil or anything about that really. I know my dad checked a hose under the hood, but I'm not sure which. He had read about it, whatever it was, being an issue with this model. He didn't find any issues with it, but it might not be the same hose so I'll have to check. Thanks for your help!
 

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I'm most surprised a SOHC engine like it has made it to 200k without dropping a valve seat.
The possible transmission issues is what would keep me from dropping any money into it at all until that was sorted. If it needs a new tranny its better to know that before dropping a few hundred dollars on other repairs/tires only to find out you need to spend another $1000 plus getting a used tranny from a scrap yard and having it installed. Maybe spending $100 and having a mechanic look over the major issues will allow the other parties involved to understand more, when its coming from a trained pro. Ideally take it to someone you or the family know or have used before if possible.
 

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A mechanic owner could band aid this thing cheaply for a few more years, but if you and your family are paying shops for repairs, you need to scrap it. You'd be better off buying a $2K-$3K car that's ugly, but runs.
 

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I'm most surprised a SOHC engine like it has made it to 200k without dropping a valve seat.
The possible transmission issues is what would keep me from dropping any money into it at all until that was sorted. If it needs a new tranny its better to know that before dropping a few hundred dollars on other repairs/tires only to find out you need to spend another $1000 plus getting a used tranny from a scrap yard and having it installed. Maybe spending $100 and having a mechanic look over the major issues will allow the other parties involved to understand more, when its coming from a trained pro. Ideally take it to someone you or the family know or have used before if possible.
Yeah, I can agree with that. My dad thinks it's just a sensor in the transmission that's causing issues. That mixed with the ECM. Which is nice, but it's not certain. And the fact is that we can't afford to be doing a bunch of dumb stuff here. I should be able to afford taking it to a mechanic to get everything checked out at the start of the month. But we don't know anyone in the area, so I have my doubts it'll be that cheap + honest. It might be one or the other. Until I'm able to personally spend money on it tho the best I can do is try to learn from more knowledgable people.
 

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A mechanic owner could band aid this thing cheaply for a few more years, but if you and your family are paying shops for repairs, you need to scrap it. You'd be better off buying a $2K-$3K car that's ugly, but runs.
My dad's a retired mechanic, and that's more or less what he intends to do. Just get it putting along and safe for awhile.
 

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Ignition coil pigtail needs to be replaced. Ignition coil may be bad as well but the pigtail is a known issue on this model. Collapsed pcv hose on the back of the intake is another trouble spot
I thought those problems were mainly Zetec issues?
 

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Being a SPI engine alone renders the decision moot, you get it fixed to run then the engine drops a valve to ruin. Compression test at that mileage before another cent is spent, engine may well be junk anyway.

The ECM issue may only be smoke and mirrors, they generally have no trouble other than owner incompetence induced ones.

What happened to code readers that simply output codes?, trying to do brain surgery here when a screwdriver all that is needed. Trying to pursue .dat files is lost time doing better things.

Being only one person in a committee is how nothing gets done constructive and it certainly shows, car has more things broke than the last 5 I saw in the scrapyard. Father being a mech is nothing as far as that car shows impact from it.
 
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Sounds like alot of your issues will be solved with a sparkplug and wireset change and a new thermostat. As for bumping the car into park to pull the key out of the ignition you can replace your neutral saftey switch.
 

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Being a SPI engine alone renders the decision moot, you get it fixed to run then the engine drops a valve to ruin. Compression test at that mileage before another cent is spent, engine may well be junk anyway.

The ECM issue may only be smoke and mirrors, they generally have no trouble other than owner incompetence induced ones.

What happened to code readers that simply output codes?, trying to do brain surgery here when a screwdriver all that is needed. Trying to pursue .dat files is lost time doing better things.

Being only one person in a committee is how nothing gets done constructive and it certainly shows, car has more things broke than the last 5 I saw in the scrapyard. Father being a mech is nothing as far as that car shows impact from it.
I'll have to learn how to do that and what I'm looking for but that's prolly a good idea. I only just learned that the engine has a habit of doing that yesterday, but it's definitely something I'll keep in mind.

Oh, that's interesting. My understanding is that ECMs die at some point, or start to, and they start making all sorts of bad things happen. Please correct me if I'm wrong. Here to learn for sure.

It output codes, but it advertises as being able to get the data off the reader from your computer. Which obviously it can't do, at least not simply. I don't really have another viable thing that I can do at the moment tho, so spending time on it this week isn't a total waste.

That's true. I'm tryin here, that's the best I can say. I'm not in a great position unfortunately. && like I said, retired mechanic. He's a trucker now. Not home often enough to work on the car. And I've been away for years. Anyway, none of that is really the point. I get what you mean. I'm just trying to do what I can to make sure things work. I'm not gonna get into specific sob story nonsense, but I don't have other options at the moment. So I'm running with what they think is best, even if I disagree. Because like you said, being the only person on a committee is how nothing constructive gets done.
I appreciate your input. Thanks.
 

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Sounds like alot of your issues will be solved with a sparkplug and wireset change and a new thermostat. As for bumping the car into park to pull the key out of the ignition you can replace your neutral saftey switch.
That's a lot more hopeful than other people have been. I hope you're right, but the majority don't seem to agree. I appreciate the input though and I'll be looking into doing just that.
 

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We are simply saying to not throw good money after bad. Over the internet car diagnosis is next to impossible most times. Being a SOHC SPI engine with 200k, you're in for a world of hurt dumping money into it, that's just the cold hard truth. Wish I could be of more help or more constructive with my responses but it is what it is unfortunately.
 
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