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I recently installed shorty racing headers into my Focus. It seems to idle fine. If I rev the engine while in park, it's loud but fine. However, when I start driving I get a repeated "sputter" between 1500 and 2000 RPM that greatly reduces my acceleration time. The installation followed standard procedure except I used a thin coat of high temp engine gasket seal on both sides of both gaskets. I used the replacement bolts that came with the header, but I did not put anything on the threads as the instructions did not say to. All bolts were put on loosely to allow some give for reattaching the cat assembly and then tightened (I don't have a tork wrench yet) and double checked when everything else was in place. I do not smell any exhaust or hear a leak while running the car, but the car is a lot louder. The battery was disconnected and the car was left to idle for a few minutes after the battery was reconnected. I still have the stock cat and catback exhast (hopefully not for long), which I read was mistake the following day but did not read that there would be performance problems. Once I get above 2K RPM, my car does take off with no further sputters and my top speed is 10 MPH faster.

This being the first car I've ever decided to work on myself as it is easy to work on, I'm not familiar with most terms. For example, after thoroughtly reading the entire Ford CD I got off EBay about my Focus I think that headers are the intake manifold. Am I wrong? Would this "stutter" be considered a knock? Should I spray some soapy water around the seals and check for leaks that way? My only other suspicion is the EGR pipe. That was a bitch to get off because of where it sits and I didn't use anything to reseal the threads when I put it back on.

I'll be changing the oil, filters, rotating tires and painting the brake drums on my cars and vans this afternoon so I'll have a chance to get underneath my Focus. Is there anything else I should look for or do? A week before I put the headers on, I put Autolite double platinums in gapped at .051. The plugs I took out were gapped at .07! Would increasing the gap to .54 have any benifits? And what exactly will the new headers do to my stock cat?

Being really new to all this, any and all advice is appreciated. Thanks!
 

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This being the first car I've ever decided to work on myself as it is easy to work on, I'm not familiar with most terms. For example, after thoroughtly reading the entire Ford CD I got off EBay about my Focus I think that headers are the intake manifold. Am I wrong? Would this "stutter" be considered a knock? Should I spray some soapy water around the seals and check for leaks that way? My only other suspicion is the EGR pipe. That was a bitch to get off because of where it sits and I didn't use anything to reseal the threads when I put it back on.

I'll be changing the oil, filters, rotating tires and painting the brake drums on my cars and vans this afternoon so I'll have a chance to get underneath my Focus. Is there anything else I should look for or do? A week before I put the headers on, I put Autolite double platinums in gapped at .051. The plugs I took out were gapped at .07! Would increasing the gap to .54 have any benifits? And what exactly will the new headers do to my stock cat?
Headers are a performance term for Exhaust Manifolds. Increasing the gap should'nt do much on the Focus. Maybe some better gas mileage. On my old I car I had a range of gaps I could use not just one specific gap so I don't think it'll harm anything. The new headers from what I hear will kill your stock catalytic converter from the heat. A high flow cat will help with that aparently. And a stutter is not a knock. A knock is a sound that is heard from your engine bay caused by fuel or timing issues. There is a "knock" and then there is a "ping" I don't know which is worse.
 

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I assume you reconnected the oxygen sensor? I'm also assuming you bought the $100 headers that are advertised on ebay? I posted about those headers and nobody said anything bad about them (such as the problem you are having). Wish I could give you some suggestions but I haven't encountered your problem.. Good luck and if you find the problem please post what it was!

Banshee99
 

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Yeah, I reconnected the O2 sensors. Some one at work mentioned one of them may have gone bad/been damaged. I did have help with the install, so the cat wasn't dropped but I may take the car into my mechanic to check them out.

This morning the temperatures were way down and the car was fine until the engine heated up. I also find that if gun the engine from the start, the sputtering is a lot worse.

As for the headers themselves, yeah they are from EBay. They are a solid peice of work for the price. The heat from them discolors them quickly, so if you get them and you want them to look nice for a while get some very high temp engine paint and give them a few coats.
 
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