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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So my car is having some problems and it's rather scary. I drive a lot, typically an hour to two hours every day to and from home/work/school/GF's house. Usually once during each 30 minute trip, the electronics of the car all die. Radio dies (display completely blank, not just off), gauges all drop, and the car jerks like it's lost all power. But it's literally a second to three seconds and then the gas pedal begins to function again. Slowly the lights turn back on and the gauges start to read again. During this few seconds, the check engine light comes on and turns off after everything is back to normal. Luckily it's never happened at night so I'm not sure if my headlights and taillights are affected. Once during this month-long phenomenon, it failed to start. I put the key in the ignition and it would not turn over or anything. No clicking, no attempting, just like i was turning a key in mid-air. I jumped in my mom's car to get to work on time and when I got home later that day, my car was starting fine. What the heck is going on? [mecry] Any help is appreciated...
 

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wow this is a tuff one for me, but a few places to start is check and see if the car is ground conection is good, but it is probaly the CPU, maybe find a new one at a junk yard, weel i hope some others give some better advice, i'll be checking in on this one.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
My alternator died in my old ZX2 a few years ago but it in no way behaved like this. The electronics died which eventually stalled the car and it would not start again. The battery is clearly still charged/charging in my ZX3, I just don't understand why it's doing what it is.
 

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I would just start by checking all electrical connections, especially to the battery...but if you are not car savvy then I would take it to a professional
 

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i would say it's rather the battery or the alternator... Get the second checked if the battery is properly charged.

Electronic equipment tends to fail the way you describe it when the battery gets out of power... But as your car perks up seconds after, I'd say its the alternator.

Cheers.
 

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You mentioned it jerks, does the motor start to knock and can you tell if its going into really low RPMs?
 

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This happened to me when my negatives were not properly grounded.
 

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Sounds like bad connections or a short in the line somewhere.
 

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Sounds like a bad ground to me. I would start by checking your grounds, check the cables over really good to one may have broken in the middle.
 

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Ok on Zetecs you should follow the positive battery cable to it's destination, which is the starter, and look for any sign of damage along the way. The cable is routed close to the EGR which can build up heat and decay the insulation. This can drain your battery and fry your alternator quickly.

That is the extreme, the typical is that you have a loose battery cable, most likely the negative. The reason we surmise it is a negative problem is that even if you disconnect the positive battery cable- the car will still run if it was running when you disconnected it. The alternator will provide power, but not a negative ground for the power to go to. If you lose the ground at the battery- that kills all the electrical in the car whether it's running or not. Now that time when it did not start- were you getting any lights or sign of electricity anywhere in the car? If so, then your problem is elsewhere. A bad negative terminal cuts absolutely everything off. Most of the time, the connection is just loose.

Now if there still was electricity in the car, the problem is not the ground wire. I'd still check it because that is important and while it might not have been the problem that time, it might cause a similar problem at other times.

Another likely cause of non starting and electrical failure is the ignition switch. This is what actually makes the connections to start the car. The ignition lock cylinder where you put your key is what actuates this switch. It is located on the steering column, and you'll have to remove the cover over the column to locate it.

I'd take a closer look at the ignition switch only after checking the negative cable, positive cable, and alternator. The easiest way to check the alternator is to get the car idling, then test across the battery terminals. A proper running alternator should put out more than 13v up to 14.4v. That's only one way to test, if you take your alternator out and take it to a parts store, they can run it on a machine that will tell you if it will handle a high load. I'm a bit skeptical about doing that though since every time I've ever had one tested, they said I needed a new one [dunno]
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I won't be able to do anything until October 25th when I go back home. Thanks for all your help! I'll let everyone know how it turns out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
You mentioned it jerks, does the motor start to knock and can you tell if its going into really low RPMs?
It does not knock and RPMs seem to remain about the same since it's such a short period of time. But speaking of low RPMs, it did die at idle once. I was in my driveway, just started it and was sitting for a second (probably texting) and it just dropped slowly until it stalled. Only once though.
 

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if the car starts its not the battery, the car will run fine for a while then die and restart then its got to be a short, or a bad ground, wheres its at idk.
 

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Had the same problem with my 2003 ZTS. Mine happened alot quicker and turned out to be the alternator. Thank god for extended warranty.
 

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do you have a subwoofer in your car? this has happened to me before, in my case it was because my amplifier was too powerful for the alternator and was causing surges in the electrical system, which your cpu doesn't much like, what fixed it for me was a power cap.
 

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So my car is having some problems and it's rather scary. I drive a lot, typically an hour to two hours every day to and from home/work/school/GF's house. Usually once during each 30 minute trip, the electronics of the car all die. Radio dies (display completely blank, not just off), gauges all drop, and the car jerks like it's lost all power. But it's literally a second to three seconds and then the gas pedal begins to function again. Slowly the lights turn back on and the gauges start to read again. During this few seconds, the check engine light comes on and turns off after everything is back to normal. Luckily it's never happened at night so I'm not sure if my headlights and taillights are affected. Once during this month-long phenomenon, it failed to start. I put the key in the ignition and it would not turn over or anything. No clicking, no attempting, just like i was turning a key in mid-air. I jumped in my mom's car to get to work on time and when I got home later that day, my car was starting fine. What the heck is going on? [mecry] Any help is appreciated...
[hah] mmm [idea] looks like your girlfriend needs to put her "body" on a new car dude [hihi]
 

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This happened to me when my negatives were not properly grounded.


i say check the grounds, that happens to one of the trucks at work, and we just mess around with the negative wire and it fires right up....
 
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