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Discussion Starter #1
Hey Guys and Gals,

My wife has a 2000 SE wagon with the Zetec engine. I have experienced hard starting on COLD DAYS!! (Yes...I live in Canada. Toronto)

IN PARK, the car starts...stalls...starts immediately...runs for about 4 seconds....stalls. The engine sounds great when started...but then stalls as if it were running out of gas.

This is only occuring on colder days. This has not happened for the past 2 days with being damp outside. A few days ago, I could have sworn that my fuel pump packed it in, so I dropped the tank and inspected the pump/filter assy. I did what I could do cleaning wise....put it back together and it started right away. It seems like a fuel thing. I left the car overnight hoping in the morning to restart the car...and lo and behold,....it wouldn't start!

When the car dies, it starts right back up again...only to die in couple seconds.
Here is the real kicker...
If you put it in Drive or Reverse...the car doesn't stall!!

Is this a problem with the Idle air system, or something else sensor related?? I am an electronics engineer so I am familiar with sensors....I have seen that the Focus has a lot of Fuel Pump and MAF/P problems.

If you are wondering why I don't take it to a dealership for "electronic" diagnosis.....I have been burned with dealerships in the past...so I am a little hesitant to take it to one of them only to say that there is nothing wrong for 2hrs labour. What do you guys think? I plan on doing a fuel rail pressure test...maybe the pump is fritzy?? But the car pulls fine after it starts!!!

PS. I purchased a Ford Fuel Pump on EBAY recently.....I wonder if I should install it anyway. Any thoughts???
 

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AKA Toyotech
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focus doesn't have a map, it has a maf, and if it was the maf, for the few seconds it was idling, it would be running like shit, same if it was the fuel pump, both basically run the same way. i think that you have moisture in your exhaust/muffler...and people have had this problem, if you go to the dealer and ask a tech, someone at the dealer is bound to know something.
 

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do you have aftermarket parts? if you have something like adjustable cam gears, your car will stall if the screws slip out of place, but the car will still drive if you're lucky enough to keep it running. If this is the case, get some lock-tite. If your car is stock, give in and go take it to a shop...go to a lincoln dealer. They are friendlier and have the ability to work on the focus since they are owned by ford.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Once it's cold out...good luck starting!!

Thanks for the responses. No, I don't have any aftermarket parts installed. Stock Ford Focus SE Zetec with new plugs and filters.
It got colder today, and low and behold, the symtoms came back!! It has to be a temperature thing. Play with starting and stalling about 3 times...then it runs fine.

Kicknzx3, I have noticed that this morning it did run like ^&)(*)*(_) when it started. After stalling a few times it recovered completely. I don't think it can be the fuel pump anymore. Oh well, I have a new one being sent to me anyway. I drove it to work and floored it in a stop-green light and it pulls fine...(for a 4 cylinder Ford). What about this MAF that you speak of?? I have read that some people are having problems with them.....someone just posted today a problem EXACTLY like mine.

Let me know if you guys no what else I can check. Maybe I should plug the heater core in tonight and see if it makes any difference...block temperature/ etc???
 

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This is way out on a limb, but I've noticed on a couple of different threads here that the battery ground cables at the body connection point can go bad, and are easily jarred when you're not careful changing your air filter. If ground bolt on body is a bit loose, and some corrosion is happening, that gives you an unstable electrical situation which can explain a multitude of bizarre symptoms. I'm thinking too that if corrosion is present, it could very likely be worse at lower temperatures. Wouldn't hurt to check.

Dave Milton

Sackville, NB Canada

2000 SE with Zetec
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Corrosion Control

Yes, I had a lot of corrosion on the Positive lead. A build up of about 1/2" all around the post. I cleaned, retightened...and still the same problems.
Thanks for the advice. I am gonna start looking into an OBD II reader I guess. My dash is saying all OK though.....maybe it is a pending code.
Damn Wife's car.
Wish It was as reliable as my Tacoma.
 

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This could be further out on that limb, but what kind of oil are you using? If you are using 10W, start using 5W instead. You could also check for a vacuum leak...the only way I know of is to run the car and listen for the familiar hissing sound.
 

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AKA Toyotech
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it won't be oil and won't be a vacuum leak. if you think it may be the fuel pump, try the fuel pressure tests....but if it runs fine after its finally started, i highly doubt its the pump, especially from your symptoms, and if it is the maf, is would at least be misfiring once the car is at normal operating temp. i still think its caused from the exhaust problem. as for corrosion on the ground, his car shouldn't start, and one quick reason to check if its a ground is to hook up a scan tool, if it can't make a connection then its your ground, also if the gauges make a sweep once you start the car, that could be a corrosion problem or ground, so i count all of those out. if you want you could remove the maf and clean it with alcohol and a q-tip carefully...if u wanna try, take ya 5 minutes.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Poor Starting

Thanks for the leads guys,

It is actually doing the "Gauge Sweep" thing once in awhile. It doesn't happen all of the time, but it is frequently doing that. I took the intake MAF off tonight in the blistering cold and wind and inspected the components. It looks real clean in there. I reinstalled the parts and tightened the clamps better than they were....and started the car. It was semi-warm so it started no problem.

I unplugged the MAP sensor harness while the car was running like someone suggested...and it continued to run the same. I gave it a quick lever pull at the throttle body and the car stumbled, then picked up. I re-installed the connector and tried the same thing with the throttle linkage....the car responded not as great as I would have expected. Inititially, there is a mild hesitation, then the car revs as it should. I am wondering if there should be that slight delay in rpm response. I am used to instant response.

I am open too all ideas, but the water in the exhaust one I cannot comprehend. I have heard of this......but how the heck can I check that??? Water in the gas....well I have drained, refilled, added methyl-......no difference.

I think that I am done playing with this problem. I will wait until tomorrow and test the cold start once again.

Thanks guys for the responses.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
freezing cold morning....crank it till the battery dies Focus

As expected, the Focus started up in the morning. It is below 0 now. It stalled right after that. Then started....then stalled...over and over and over for about 10 minutes of playing. Cannot touch the gas during this process....makes it worse.

Once finally running smoothly, it pulls like a race horse. I noticed the sounds of the fuel pump when it was starting and stalling and it sounded like it was charging for about 1 second each time. It sounded correct, and the pressure must be high. When the motor died after 3-5 seconds of running, the pump would run longer,..charging the fuel rail back to pressure. I think I can rule out the pump.

Back in my experienced years, when a motor starts, runs then dies as if running out of fuel, it would indicate a lean mixture to me. Is the "choke" circuit an enrichening and timing retard circuit?? On cold starts, the injectors should get more pulses and the timing should be retarded until the computers PID loop gets a warmer temperature feedback. This in my mind is controlled by the ECU. Is this correct? What sensor determines the temperature of air? Remember on some of the old GM's, they used a thermal grate to heat the incoming air?? Is there something like this being used....I looked through the 2001 Ford Focus CD with no information available for that topic.

I am looking for an OBD II scanner/software package. Any ideas on which is the best? Someone mentioned "Pending Codes". Maybe this is a condition that I need to look into.

Thanks again.
 

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Well here is my two cents...

My wagon had a similar problem with cold days starting.... ended up that with the 02 build year that the manufacturing company of the mufflers built the baffles inside the mufflers backwards. There for retaining water.... retained water + cold weater = frozen muffler. There is an updated muffler (03 model) the dealership can install. Should be a TSB out outlining this concern.

Also Foci are known for their wonderful fuel pump problems with the early 00 and 01 models. So don't be surprised if it is the culprit. Look for a TSB concerning this.

One other problem is that the throttle body's on the 00-01 focus have a problem with them sticking... there's updated TB's for both the ztec and spi model available. Should also be a TSB on that
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Hard Starting Focus Zetec

Thanks.

The Focus is a 2000, not a 2002. The exhaust has worked OK in the freezing temps for the last year and a half. This is the first year that the hard starting has occured. So based on that info, I don't think that the exhaust is the culpret, although good info. Besides, the FOCUS has hard starting issues in temps above 0. I am almost convinced it is a timing/fuel injection richening problem. But who am I to comment on FORD technical. I am just another electrical engineer that works with CAN protocols in other vehicles....

The throttle body plate is set in the idle (closed) position when no throttle is applied, and has not been tampered with in the meantime.

The Fuel pump I can only expect would NOT be the problem because a fuel pump must develop much higher volumes when running at full load...ie flooring it at 100km/hr. It works fine in every case AFTER it has been warmed up. Never stalls, never cuts out.

I am almost sick to death of this whole thing, and just purchased CAA to cover my wife's ass (so to speak.) Kinda makes you wonder why we spend money on new technology if they can't make something that can be diagnosed easier.
 

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well there could be the posibility of your injectors freezing.... We had an F150 in the dealership with this concern. Customer had the vehicle towed in... we brought it in the shop and it started fine. Ended up being that the shape of the injectors allowed moister to build up on them and the cold caused the moisture to freeze which inturn not allowed the vehicle to start. Ford actually bought his truck off him and gave him a brandnew 03 F150 fully loaded for all his troubles. They came in with a car carrier and unloaded his new truck and took his old one up to Thompson, MB where they do all they're cold weather testing.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Cold Starting SOLVED!

Hey guys and gals that responded,

After a month of dickin' around with the Focus, the dealership finally replaced the "fuel Pump regulator". The car starts in the cold no problem now. They said that the new pump that was just installed was nothing to do with it......and that the fuel rail pressure was up around 80psi when it should have been 40psi.

I am wondering if they really replaced the part or not, or are they covering up another problem that they missed originally.

According to my logic, as temperature drops so does pressure. That would mean that when the key was turned the pump would prime and deliver pump pressure to the rails. If the regulator was regulating at 80psi, then the normal operating pressure is 40, then there is adequate pressure to make the car run. Are they saying that on cold days that the pressure would be at 80psi and give too much pressure to the injectors...thus flooding the engine?? Why would the engine start right away....and then stall like the injectors were shut off completely???

The whole thing does not make sense to me.
 

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hey kcarlen,

I ran into pretty much the same issue with my 02 Ford Focus. Let me share my story with you.
Last month I noticed that my car has started loosing pickup, acceleration for no reason. So I checked what I could my self. Gave up and dropped the car off at the dealer. They told me that Cat was clogged. And they replaced it. they told me that due to the short header sending to much hot exhaust down to the Cat, it eventually got clogged. Anyways, to keep the long story short. Week and the half later after I picked it up, the car drives great, awsome pickup and all, however it stalls on the cold start. In the morning when I start the car it will run for 10-30 seconds it will start to hasitate and eventually will stall. After the second start, car idles better(little less roughness) but it doesn't stall at all and it drives, still, great. I dropped it off at the dealer again, they kept the car for few days for testings and never found any problems. So after work, I'm going to pick it up.

I say its a very strange situation
 

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hey kcarlen,

I ran into pretty much the same issue with my 02 Ford Focus. Let me share my story with you.
Last month I noticed that my car has started loosing pickup, acceleration for no reason. So I checked what I could my self. Gave up and dropped the car off at the dealer. They told me that Cat was clogged. And they replaced it. they told me that due to the short header sending to much hot exhaust down to the Cat, it eventually got clogged. Anyways, to keep the long story short. Week and the half later after I picked it up, the car drives great, awsome pickup and all, however it stalls on the cold start. In the morning when I start the car it will run for 10-30 seconds it will start to hasitate and eventually will stall. After the second start, car idles better(little less roughness) but it doesn't stall at all and it drives, still, great. I dropped it off at the dealer again, they kept the car for few days for testings and never found any problems. So after work, I'm going to pick it up.

I say its a very strange situation
 
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