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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi guys,

I am having an issue with my 2002 ZX5 2.0 Zetec Focus. Basically, it seems to have a really hard time idling lately. It starts out idling high, you have to let it warm up a bit or the shift into gear is pretty rough (its an automatic). After the car warms up though it goes into gear ok, but switches it up and instead idles too low to the point where it wants to die when you slow down or come to a stop. If you let it die, just before it does so the battery light will flicker on. The check engine light is not on and thus I have no codes to scan for, so I went about troubleshooting this issue as best as I could, but please bear in mind that I am a computer engineer and not an automotive one :)

I have a new battery, alternator, and serpentine belt all within the last year, so I really was hoping it wasn't electrical. I put the odometer in test mode and scrolled through to the voltage and drove it like that for a while. The car holds 14.5v steady while running, so that was a good sign, and I saw that even at a stop when it's about to die it is still running at over 14v, so I don't think it is an electrical/charge issue. I started looking into it and doing some research to see if this is a common problem with Focuses and saw that some suggested cleaning out the MAF. I got some cleaner and gave that a try, but no difference (the MAF was pretty clean to begin with). After that I saw some people had mentioned the throttle body could be gunked up, so I got some cleaner for that and cleaned it out as well, but no luck there either (the throttle body was also pretty clean already). The next suggestion someone gave me was to check the IAC valve, so I'll be taking a look at that next. I've gone looking for it assuming it must be near the throttle body or the intake manifold? No luck so far, will be putting the car in the air next to have a look from underneath.

But I told a buddy of mine about the issue who turns a lot of wrenches and said he might start with the fuel filter, injectors, and spark plugs, and that got me thinking that maybe I am heading down the wrong path as for what I'm checking into (especially since the MAF and throttle body were fine). So anyways I thought I would post here and see what you guys think since everyone here would have experience specific to this model. Is this a common issue with the earlier Focuses? Has anyone else had this issue, and if so, could you share what fixed it for you? Any/all help and advice are very much appreciated.

Thanks in advance!
 

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Many things would cause this

Dirty MAF
Dirty IACV
Bad or slow o2
If you have a after marked TB , idle screw could be set wrong

Find some one with a SCT xcal2 , 3 , 4 for a Ford and I will be glad to take a look at a datalog

Tom
 

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Battery light coming on as it quits is normal, once it turns too slow it won't charge adequately.

Bud is correct on starting with some of the basic maint. items, like plugs/filter, don't want to skip something basic & go looking for deeper trouble that may not be there.

Long list of possibilities as Tom mentioned, that IACV is located under the manifold where it's hard to see/access. Even a bad PCV hose can be at fault for this, it's the one that runs from the front to the rear of the engine with the most problems seeming to come from the section under the intake manifold where it connects.
 

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PCV hose where it enters intake manifold at bottom is a VERY common cause of it. The hose gets soft and either collapses shut or sucks a hole in side of it to make a vacuum leak.

Plugs and wires can do it too if old, the wires will commonly fail internally when you pull old ones to make new plugs sometimes seem to do nothing or make it worse. So new plugs should mean new wires if they are old. If an electrical guy you can easily check the wires with a VOM, no more than 5000 ohm resistance per 12" length of the wire.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for all the tips guys!

The check engine light finally came on the other day, so I took it in to get scanned and the code was for "bank one air", which from what they tell me is a really generic code that basically says the air/fuel mixture isnt right? I am also starting to feel it in my MPGs. Definitely seems like IAC and PVC are good places to check, will have a chance to get under the car this weekend and see what's going on. A tune up couldnt hurt either though, this car probably needs it. You wouldnt believe how many miles are on it if I told you :) I'll grab a VOM from work on Monday and should be able to test the wires then - I'll let you guys know what I find with each of these as I go along.

Thanks again!
 

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Try to get numbers for the codes when scanned, more details can be looked up from that later. We've got a fairly decent list right here in the "stickies" at the top of this page.

Everything on an inline 4 cyl. is "bank one", and "air" as a description is too short to guess at the actual code (for me at least, wouldn't want to guess wrong).
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I think it's fixed! Took it for a few cruises around town and no sign of the problem. I found some sort of line that was disconnected around back of the engine behind the throttle body, I took some photos and uploaded them for reference. Can any of you confirm that this being disconnected would cause this kind of a problem? If that was indeed the cause, I'm trying to wrap my head around how it came out of nowhere - I havent had any work done recently so I'm not sure how it would have gotten disconnected in the first place.

On a side note, I saw my lower motor mount was disconnected when getting underneath the car so I got that taken care of as well. One bolt was missing and the second was just barely hanging in there.

The check engine light is also still on, should this turn off when the problem is corrected or do you have to clear it with a scanner? Though I suppose it might take some time for it to turn off on its own, it certainly took a long time for it to come on when I was having the idling issue. I'll take it back up to the corner here in a bit and have it scanned again so I can jot down the exact error code its throwing, hopefully that code will indicate that the disconnected line was all it was.
 

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