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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey all, new here and I was hoping you guys could help a bit. I have a 2003 SE automatic with about 136k miles on it and it seems pretty messed up.

So she wouldn't start the other day after getting some groceries at Target, turned the key and I heard a clicking and the accessory lights came on but it wouldn't turn initially. Sister picked me up and about 35 minutes later I went back to the car and got it started, but it was a weak start. After it was on it ran fine.

Got it home and naturally, because I'm a horrible troubleshooter, I started jumping to my conclusions. After turning it on a few times, weak start again-turned slowly then finally caught, it has to be the starter I assumed, so I ripped it out and had it checked, of course it checked fine. I get the thing cleaned up a bit, cleaned the battery terminals, ate some lunch, replaced the spark plugs just because, and got the old starter back in. I start up the car, still has problem, and I go for a drive.

Sorry this post it getting a bit long... I'm driving and she's strugglin. When in drive it didn't want to shift, ever. I had to drop it into 2nd for it not to revv really high while puttin along. Also when I first started going, the speedo and the tach weren't working. After driving for a minute they jumped into life. Eventually the car realized what it was doing and was allowing hard shifts in drive. I understand that the car kind of needs to "relearn" how to function right, but this has lasted too long. The speedo randomly falls to zero and the car stops shifting altogether, then the speedo will wake up, but it still won't shift, but then it'll start hard shifting again, sometimes having to switch to 2nd to keep from revving... I don't know what I did but I'm pretty sure it was stupid. Did I forget an obvious sensor or a relay in the reassembly? Any ideas? And if you made it all the way through this, it's much appreciated. I was going to try an ignition switch for the intermittent starting issues...
 

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well there are a couple things that it could be... have you checked battery? the selenoid? sp? if it was clicking then that could be either of those easily.
 

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I would have the battery checked or replaced. All your issues can be caused by low voltage from the battery or even an alternator not properly charging and maintaining voltage. Today's electronic trans can not operate or shift properly without proper voltage. The same goes for any running issues that you have. If possible monitor the voltage with a volt meter while starting and driving down the road. Starting voltage should not drop bellow about 10.5 and driving the alternator should maintain at at least 13.5 or better(if it is charging a good battery).
 

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It points to the battery. The starter pull a lot of juice to operate. Your interior light might work but thats not enough power to turn the starter. Have the battery checked (same with the alternator).
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
ha a rolling vagina, thats funny lol

Haven't checked the battery, don't have a multimeter but I'm thinking that's next on my to-get parts list. I could probably just drive it to a parts store and let them do it...
And the starter solenoid? I figured that would be good if the whole thing checked good...
Sp? I looked that up in the acronyms and i'm not sure what you're referring to. Spark plugs?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Wow, I really appreciate all the replies. Looks like I'm gonna have to go get the battery checked, be right back...
 

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keep us updated.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Just so everyone knows- I'm an idiot, it's official. Battery was pretty much shot. I was always taught to check the simplest idea first... oh well, lesson learned.

So I got the battery replaced and that fixed the starting issue, you all are genius. But it still doesn't shift and the speedometer intermittently works, and sometimes it settles at about half the speed I'm actually going. Plus, and I forgot to mention this in the first post, the engine and battery lights are both on. The engine light from the start, but the battery light comes on a few seconds after the car is started.
 

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Have you had the alternator checked? Most likely its not charging the battery right. If it checks ok, then have a look at the grounds, make sure they're all tight and clean (not only the battery grounds but the chassis grounds as well)
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Nope, didn't have that checked while I was conveniently sitting right outside Advance... I'll get it done first thing tomorrow though. Could that cause the crazy speedo and the non-shifting? I know the battery light comes on when things aren't getting charged properly in that assembly, so that makes sense...
 

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Hatch Nation #136
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Dude. Battery light coming on is an important detail. With your mileage you should have the alternator tested. Use the odometer to do it.

With your car off, hold down the trip meter button. Start the car with it held down and it will show you diagnostics. Push the button to cycle through until you see bat. It should give you a number between 13 and 15. Anything below 12 is definite cause for concern.

The voltage regulator is a known point of failure. If it is bad, don't go buy another. New ones are crazy expensive and chain store rebuilds are crap. Try and see if you can have someone local rebuild yours.

Also, you should check the condition of your timing belt, due at 100k, your fuel filter, due every 60k, your trans fluid and filter, due every 30k.

All of them are doable at home in the driveway and there are great walk throughs on the site.

Good luck.
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks for all that ben. My odometer gauge was showing right at 12 for the battery, at least I'm pretty sure. There was another one, "b-18", but I doubt that was it. And I take the lights seriously, I'm just trying to have a semi-positive attitude because this is my only car and I have little money and I start school soon... but yeah, I'll look into those others tomorrow as soon as I can. Thanks again brother
 

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Yup - All on target, & don't forget that ALL the wire connections need to be cleaned as well...

The negative to ground by the battery are key, AND check all others you can find - we JUST had a Poster whose issue was a BAD connection where the ground connects to the engine block - with similar running issues to yours.....

Corroded connections are the main issue we see, after the basics , like "is the battery good at all???"


Luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Alright, so tomorrow morning I'm going to make a run to Autozone to get it tested. Gonna check those crazy grounds too. Hopefully it's just the alternator, that's going to be enough of a pain to swap out...

Forgive me for bringing it up again, but is there any way the speedometer issue and the lack of shifting could be from the vss? I've read a few places the vss could cause limp mode, which would essentially force the trans to stay in one gear, and that could account for the fickle speedo too. Plus it's around the place I was working to pull the starter out... just trying to come up with an idea before i get some sleep.

Thanks again for everyones help!
 

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Hatch Nation #136
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Alright, so tomorrow morning I'm going to make a run to Autozone to get it tested. Gonna check those crazy grounds too. Hopefully it's just the alternator, that's going to be enough of a pain to swap out...

Forgive me for bringing it up again, but is there any way the speedometer issue and the lack of shifting could be from the vss? I've read a few places the vss could cause limp mode, which would essentially force the trans to stay in one gear, and that could account for the fickle speedo too. Plus it's around the place I was working to pull the starter out... just trying to come up with an idea before i get some sleep.

Thanks again for everyones help!
Deal with one issue at a time, starting at the simple fix and moving to the more complicated. Diagnose, and THEN repair.

All of the running issues have one thing in common and just so happen to correspond with the warning light. Electricity the system is not seeing.

The odometer reads directly off of the voltage regulator, so if it is giving you 12, then your system isn't seeing enough juice.

Have the alternator tested, and if it is bad, DON'T get one at Autozone. Hit up the phone book and find a local rebuilder. It will work on the first shot and not be made in China.

Go over your grounds, clean and check them.

Once you've handled the known points of failure and ruled them out, then start diagnosing further.
 

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X2 - Lack of adequate electrical power CAN cause all your issues - AND that lack can be from inadequate supply from the alternator OR from lack of adequate grounding at one or more of the ground connections so current just can't flow well enough.

In your case it SOUNDS like a supply issue, but poor connections can CAUSE an alternator to fail over time, so don't ignore them while focusing on the possible alternator issue.

Local rebuilds are the way to go, MUCH better workmanship, MUCH cheaper, AND you have someone who can actually tell you what problems (OR lack of them) your alternator has....

About 8 months ago I took one to my local shop for test & rebuild as needed - it was checked out while I waited & performed perfectly - NO charge for the checkout....

So I could move on & look for other issues, knowing THAT was good....
Luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
So I took it and got the codes read. There were four and I should've written them down but I know a couple were P0715 and P0720, one for the input shaft speed sensor, the other for the output shaft. Also showed that I need a new oxygen sensor.

He did a quick running check on the battery and showed it was only getting 12.3 at about 2500-3000rpm. I found a local shop that I can take the alternator to that should be able to check it and fix it, just gotta pull it out first and I still need to check the grounds... Gonna thank baby Jesus if all it is is a faulty ground, my funds are running kinda low
 

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Okay, so this is sounding like multiple issues.

The alternator and grounds could definitely use a looking at, and the trouble codes are an issue as well.

Is there anything else that we should know? Any smoke, funny noises or smells?

The more information you can give the better, leaving out things like trouble codes and the fact that you've got warning lights on makes it very difficult to determine what is going on over the internet, which is a challenge to begin with.
 
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