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Discussion Starter #1
Hello everyone I am new to the forum. I have an issue with my used 2000 2.0 Zetec Zx3. I picked the car up in august at a used car dealer. Got 2 brand new tires and a starter out of the warranty however... about a week ago I had parked the car, it was the coldest night the car has seen under my ownership.. It was running just fine before i had parked it for the evening.
When i went to start it about 8 hours later it started with a rough idle, like a miss. And when I gave it throttle (1/4 throttle) the car shook and sounded identical to a blown head gasket. I observed white smoke but figured it had to do with the recent cooler temperatures and condensation. The car sat for 4 days before it was picked up ad brought to a nearby garage. Get this, the mechanic said he rolled it off the flat bed into the garage bay and it started right up and ran like a top. I went and picked the car up and whadya know= ran like a top.. I fed it some octane boost and some HEET and shes been running fine ever since. Any ideas or clues on what couldve caused this? My instinct are focused on the fuel system, which i could be wrong.. Should I get a compression test?[pray]
 

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Having no problem now, is a good thing - EXCEPT that you are worried about a recurrence...

The compression check isn't NEEDED right now, since it's running fine - BUT it would be a good thing to do, just to get baseline numbers for your engine for future reference, AND make SURE there is no issue you don't know about....

If you have a friend with the proper tools, and knowledge about how to do it, the "free" check is definitely worth the beer you'll buy him....

At the same time, you MAY find evidence of the issue I'm GUESSING you ran into..

Our engines have NO drains from the spark plug holes, unlike motorcycle engines that EXPECT to get wet.... SO, if any water gets in there it stays 'till it evaporates or boils out... If you find rusty plugs, you have your answer...

When the plug boots that are SUPPOSED to seal the tubes get older they can leak, and we've seen issues like this from washing the engine bay, as well as a more uncommon issue of water draining down the INSIDE of the hood & dripping on the engine. This is more likely if your seal at the back of the engine compartment is missing or in poor condition.

Running like crap from poor ignition from water in the holes would result in a bunch of crud out the tailpipe, matching your symptoms. And once things dry out, the problem goes away....

We can make other guesses, but check out this "simple" cause first - easy & cheap to fix....

Luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hey there. I checked the spark plugs and the boots and I found rust on boots (from L to R) 1 and 3. This arouse my suspicion. I took the plastic cam cover off and took out the spark plugs: The tips of the spark plugs were a red color and right around the threads and up above was rusty. The 3 reservoirs under the cam cover had rust on it also. Going to def replace those plugs and wires.. The tube that comes from the airbox to the plastic cam cover was also disconnected at the airbox cover..
Now, a symptom i found with my recent purchased focus. I notice a small bog and hesitation at about 1/4 throttle but nothing after 1/2 or @ WOT. I wonder what that is.. Sorry if Im overloading or asking too many questions. Its hard to take this step by step.. Please try to work with me.
 

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Red or green colored deposits on the plugs are usually due to fuel quality and/or additives. If you can find good gasoline there are no additives necessary. If the white smoke smelled like gas and not like a sweet maple syrup-type smell it's certainly not a heat gasket issue. Considering it was cold, I'm sure it was just fuel vapors and condensation which is normal. This time of year is often a hard time for cold starts because it's getting pretty cold overnight and most areas are still running summer blend fuel. Give it a few weeks before you break out the parts cannon and go to town wasting time and $. But, considering the plugs are contaminated and you already removed them, it would be wise to slap a new set in and see what happens.
 

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My 2005 has been doing that for a long time. Its been to the dealer under warranty many times and every time, they find nothing.

About 6months ago, I cleaned out the throttle body real good. That seemed to have fixed it for a short while, but the problem is back. I'm going to see if IAC and throttle body is gunked again. Even if it does fix it again, I can't see having to repeat this every few months as practical.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Hello again, the weather was nice today so I decided to: change the plugs and wires and.. the fuel filter. Low and behold: same issue I was having in the first place. Its stated with a rough idle and died down to a stall. I turned it over for about 20 seconds before it would fire however it still ran with a bad idle and died down to a stall again... Beats me. Ive been told the coil packs on these cars are very sensitive. Any ideas folks?
 

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Well well well... It seems to have gotten better after every 10 min increment of trying to start it. Now it runs decent. Still got the hesitation but heres what I did: Gave it a rest and tried to start it about every 10 minutes. After about 4 tries she started right up. Had a little hesitation but nothing else after I held it at 5 grand for a bit. Still has a small hesitation under 1/4 throttle but gets me from A to B. After doing some research, my instincts are telling me its the fuel pump. They run at a high rpm and it doesnt help to run the tank under 1/4. If Im right on my instincts shall I go with an Delfi OR an Airtechs?
 

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The issue is probably not due to the plugs, wires, or fuel filter, but it's not like you wasted your money. When it comes to new used vehicles, I always recommend going through routine maintenance things like plugs, wires, fuel filter, air cleaner, oil change, PCV valve check, washer fluid check- etc.

You've a few more things to go IMO, and I'd add cleaning the IAC while you're at it. You have a Zetec engine so there are plenty of resources in the How To Archive in the blue banner above, and in the Complete How-To Archive link in my signature.

The PCV vacuum line is well known to cause some issues with idle in these engines especially due to a design that's prone to failure from the engine heat. Find the vacuum line, trace it back to the TB, and pull it loose from the TB. Then blow into the line if the rubber is not too corroded. A functioning PCV system would prevent air from going into the crankcase, so you should feel a lot of resistance to your blowing. If not then the PCV valve itself is stuck, or the line is damaged. Fear not, the PCV itself is not an expensive part, and if you need it the re-designed line is $20 from a dealer. You should also check this line to be sure that it is not collapsing under idle at the 90 degree turn. That is another failure. I don't think either of those is your particular problem, but it should be checked. The PCV and line should be replaced if it fails either test.

Clean the idle air control (IAC), and that will likely solve your problem. If the Zetec is like my Duratec, then there is not gasket for the IAC. If you need one, then it's only $2 or so. Simply remove, spray carb cleaner inside the IAC, and wipe it out with a rag or Q-tip. Once it's clean, allow time for the cleaner to evaporate, then re-install and start the engine.
 

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OK, fuel pump= Key OFF, turn key ON, and listen. You should hear a buzzing sound. Note how long it takes before the buzzing stops. If it's more than 5 seconds, then yes, you do have a weak fuel pump. If it's so short that you can't count, or don't think you hear it- then it's fine.

There are a lot of causes for the same symptoms. To properly diagnose a vehicle for X problem, first the problem must be continuous and easily able to be recreated. If the problem is not easily recreated, then wait until it is. Then you perform tests to cross off one cause or the other until you come across the cause of the problem.

In your case, I've given you the simple fuel pump test. With these engines, that's about the only one you need to know.

You car seems to run better with a warm engine. That could be several causes. EGR, PCV, sticky/weak IAC, or some other vacuum leak. I'm not there to use experience to help eliminate the possible causes from other symptoms you might not be noticing, but from what I've seen written here, you have problems that I wouldn't personally worry about. If an engine doesn't start the first time, but starts and runs fine the second time- I don't worry about it especially if it's been sitting for a few days. There are plenty of cars out there that simply don't appreciate sitting.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Went to start my car this morning, started with a miss like idle.. Once the car warmed up the rough idle went away and started to have a sticky idle. Say if I gave it throttle to 4,000 it will sit there and slowly go back to 1100-900 rpm. None the less it returns to a lower idle but just takes about 10 seconds to get back down there. Checked all the vacuum lines and nothing. I checked the complete how to archive and couldnt find a way to check or clean the IAC and PCV.. I took the boot off the back of the throttle body that looks like a roll of quarters and examined it. It was clean just like the rest of the vacuum lines back there. Next thing I'm going to try is cleaning the MAF. Oh yea, I forgot to mention its not throwing any codes either... Baffles me once again.
 

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The IAC is located under the intake manifold. Some people say that they can reach it by removing the battery box and air intake box. Has anyone been messing around with the screws on the throttle body- they may have thought those were idle screws. Also check to see if the throttle cable is binding- holding the throttle open.

Cleaning the MAF probably won't fix this problem unless the problem was due partially to an open air intake tube. I doubt that though, it generally causes stalling.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Started poking around this morning with sensors and vac lines and what a stroke of luck! The check engine light came on. I plugged it in and it gave me a P1506. Did some online research and I read that it can be the IAC or TPS. How can I clean that IAC?
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Took out the IAC. Was able to get at it from under the car. Deusched it out pretty good. Put it back in and same old same old.. So, today, my IAC's coming in through napa. I couldnt convince the guy to get a motocraft. Instead he preferred an Echlin... What ever type bran that is... Wish me luck. If this doesnt fix the problem, it's only checked off of my process of elimination. Happy Holidays BTW.
 
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