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Discussion Starter #1
Hey everyone,

I have a 2001 Focus SE with the SPI engine. I live in the midwest and a year ago I started having a problem in the winter where my car would start and then immediately die or not start at all. Usually after waiting a few minutes I could get it to start. The problem went away but as soon as it started getting cold again this year, the problem returned. However, after about a week of the problem it just quit starting at all, nothing could get it going again. It would either just turn or sometimes it would only just click. I took a look at the battery and saw that the negative side was massively corroded. I went ahead and replaced the battery and cleaned the terminals to the best of my ability, but no dice. I ended up just having it towed to a mechanic cause I needed to have it fixed quickly so I could visit family for thanksgiving (out of state student).

The mechanic got back to me and said it was a bad fuel pump and that it was a common problem with this car. So they went ahead and replaced the pump, I got the car back and everything was fine. Now, just 3 weeks later, its having problems again.

The car has major trouble starting, really rough and sputtering, and might just die unless I put some pressure on the gas. If it doesn't start then I usually have to wait a few minutes before trying again. When driving, there are major engine power surges. Not electrical, as far as I can tell, no change in headlight brightness. The temperature gauge also shoots to the red line as soon as the car starts and then will go back down after 2 minutes or so. The cabin will get heat if I turn the heat on. Also, the exhaust smells a little different and has a thin white look to it. Not very dense smoke and the visibility of the exhaust might just be because it is cold. I can't really tell if the exhaust smells sweeter or not, it just smells different.

I checked the coolant and it was right below the minimum line so I went ahead and topped it off. There CEL is not on. These new problems have been going on for less than a week and I quit driving the vehicle to save any more damage.

Any suggestions would be tremendously helpful! I've been scouring the web trying to find answers but could not find anything with this combination of problems.
 

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First check would be to look at fuel pressure with a scan tool to make sure the recent fuel pump replacement isn't the major issue again, within 3 weeks that should be warrantied.

Second would be to do a compression test to rule out a major engine issue.

Unfortunately both are out of the range of tools handy for most students, so unless you have a friend with some tools avail. a trip back to the garage for a checkout is prob. going to be necessary.
 

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Ask mechanic if he changed fuel pump ONLY or the entire module, you cannot change the pump only, it does not work in the early module. Could easily make your issue there. They must change the entire module but some may not thinking they'll just keep a chunk more of profit.
 

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These new symptoms sound like its running rich. Keep an eye on that coolant level though. Can't rule out a head gasket. Not unheard of on the SPI.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the responses. I was about to take it back in to have it looked at and my CEL finally came on. I decided to have an O'Reilly check it out so I had that information before taking it in (don't want this place screwing with me).

Anyway, its throwing the P0118 code which is the Engine Coolant Temperature sensor. That would explain my weird temp gauge. Just my luck, the car wouldn't start again after I had them pull the code so its sitting in the O'Reilly parking lot. I'll update when I get more information.

How easy is it to fix the ECT sensor?
 
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