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Discussion Starter #1
I was driving home last night, running low on fuel so I stopped at a local Armor station(open 24 hrs self serve place). Put in a few gallons and took off, immediately my car began chugging, losing power and eventually died on me. It started one more time but really hard as if it weren't getting fuel then stopped all together. It turns over but just chugs and doesn't fire. Someone said the gas station I stopped at had been closed for a long time and maybe the gas was bad or watered down. Battery has a full charge. I just can't get it to fire?? Is it worth trying to pour a little fuel down the throttle body??? Any help would be great and thank you!

2.0L 4-cyl. 5-speed Manual
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Update: I got it to turn over and fire a couple times but it runs for maybe a second and dies. I've tried feathering the pedal and I get a nasty white smoke out the tail pipe. Really concerned what I put in my car last night. I've added good fuel and still can't get it to stay running.
 

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How much "good" fuel added? You may also want to try a gas dryer, it's an additive you add to the fuel.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I've probably added only 5 gallons of good gas. I'll see if I can run to get some of that additive. Thanks! Again, I'm not sure if lousy gas can completely make the car stall and not start. Can only try so many times before wearing the battery out too. Circle of madness so far this morning. ANd I suppose putting fuel in the throttle body or start fluid may not even fix the problem.
 

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You may also want to try changing the fuel filter as well as using the "gas dryer" suggested above, in case it's sediment and not just water in the fuel. It's general maintenance that most people ignore anyway. DIY and $10 for a filter.
 

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Are you sure you put in gas and not diesel?

Anyway, your best bet- and I've done this with very old fuel in a tank- is to get a gas can, and get some good gas from somewhere. Fill up your 5 gallon can, and put all that in the tank if the tank will hold it. Most fuels now have ethanol built into them, so they will absorb some water. Now the car should start, but it might take a few times of cranking the engine.

Remember, every time you turn the key to start, the computer sprays a startup mixture of fuel into the engine. Repeated attempts with no success and you'll flood the engine. It will start to sound like the battery is dead suddenly cranking slower. When this happens, use the emergency start method to clean out the fuel. Key off, floor the accelerator and hold. Turn the key to start still holding the accelerator as far down as you can push it. This tells the computer not to spray fuel. Crank the engine for 15 secs or until it sputters. Turn the key off, and start normally with your foot off the accelerator. This procedure is given in your owner's manual, and works on all EFI vehicles in the same manner- basically mimicking the method of starting a flooded carbureted engine.

You might have bad fuel, you might have something unrelated. Putting in good fuel will get it running and let you know if it was bad fuel. If 5 gallons of good fuel doesn't get you running, then you need to start pretending like you don't know what happened last night and you're simply trying to diagnose why a car won't start.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I sure hope it was not diesel. It was only a few gallons but that wouldn't be good. I can't believe I'd make that mistake. I am hoping the other info you've given me will do the trick. I'm putting a charge on the battery and will be trying again shortly. I'll update afterwards. Thanks for the info.
 

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Diesel won't damage anything, it just smokes and if there's not enough gas in there then it won't burn well. If that's what you did, then simply keep filling it up and change the fuel filter eventually. Within a few tanks it will be cleared out. The only thing you'll damage is the catalytic converter, but it will be many miles before that becomes a problem.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
News is better:
Added 5 gallons of 91 octane, a can of Sea Foam and about a 5 second burst of starter fluid in the throttle body and it started for a minute or so...plumes of of white smoke. I had to do the starter fluid treatment about 4 times and just kept the pedal floored and then backed off once it was running. I let it run about 15 minutes then took it down the road and back. Started off with a few backfires and then it ran smoother. The exhaust stinks and lots of water below exhaust. I still have it running and it's been about 25-30 minutes. I checked that gas station and it's supposed to be regualr unleaded gas but I am wondering if it's either loaded with water or if they somehow mixed up the diesel. In any case it's running and has been for a while now. Sorry for the wordy reply and thanks for all the sound advice.
 

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Once you've run it all through the car, I suggest going through what would be a typical tune-up. Replace the fuel filter, we have a how-to on that even though it's an earlier model the procedure and location of the filter is the same. The one thing to remember is that you don't have to remove the white clips to disconnect the fuel line. You simply press on the flat white spot until you hear it click. I'd also either replace or clean the spark plugs, and check gap, of course. Gap does change slightly over time, and we have had more than a few Focis with odd spark plug gaps cause idling problems.
 

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Gas with ethanol in it will collect a ton of water into the ethanol if the ethanol has sat for a long time. Here in Wisconsin there was a big news story a few years ago on a batch of really bad old ethanol that was added to gas and it caused tons of problems.
So it the gas was sitting it may have had a lot of water in it.
From your discription that is what the problem sounds like.
Lucky you did not fill the tank from that station!! Ad glad you got it running again. I would drive it a LOT extra, and run that bad gas out as fast as possible, run the tank down to one gallon, then fill up with some good gas.
Lesson is, NEVER go to off brand stations you hardly know.
 

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Knowing that there was a lot of water in the tank, I'd pump it dry with an external pump and replace with good gas.

You really don't want to be running whatever is also in the gas through your fuel system.
 
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