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kevws77
Hi Everyone,
I'm a newbie so bear with me. We have an 06 plate Auto LX, and it has an intermittent starting problem that seems to be getting a bit more frequent. Basically, when you start the car, sometimes, it goes to start (lights, ignition sounds correct etc) but the engine itself doesn't actually start at all. Nothing. It will normally start at about the 3rd or 4th attempt and start like there is no problem at all. Other times, when you normally start the revs go straight up to 1000 (like normal) but sometimes they go up to about 500, the engine sounds like it is running on about half the power, but within about 5 to 10 seconds the revs go up to 1000 and the car runs like normal. Of the 2 issues it's more like the first one is more frequent (engine doesn't actually start). We've had it about 6 months and it used to do this about once avery 2 weeks, now it's more like once every 2 days. The original dealer said that as no dash lights show up, the diagnostic machine is unlikely to show up any faults. I don't want to pay out for this for the diagnostics not to do anything, but don't want to do any damage to the car if I just leave it. Please Help.
dezwez
see if you can find someone close to you with a code reader.
It the best place to start looking they do some cheap code readers on fleabay
but they dont read all codes i payed £50 for mine witch has not let me down
good luck
kevws77
Thanks Dezwez. Are these reasonably easy to use? I am a reasonably technical person but only learnt to drive last year (at the tender age of 33), so don't know much about cars. Dealer seems to think nothing will show up on the scanner but worth a try. He said you could end up replacing all sorts and still not fix the problem as it's intermittent. What happened to the old fashioned diagnostic mechanic (not a machine that waits for a big fault to register)??? Any other ideas from anyone also welcome.
kevws77
Not sure how many people have/will read this, but I'm going to see a mechanic my Dad knows this afternoon for him to have a look it. Maybe they'll find nothing wrong immediately, but you never know. I'll post what he says later anyway incase it helps anyone else (or not as may be the case). Fingers crossed.
kevws77
[quote name='kevws77' timestamp='1332758302' post='174482']
Not sure how many people have/will read this, but I'm going to see a mechanic my Dad knows this afternoon for him to have a look it. Maybe they'll find nothing wrong immediately, but you never know. I'll post what he says later anyway incase it helps anyone else (or not as may be the case). Fingers crossed.
[/quote]
Well, just visited the mechanic. They could find nothing wrong. The fuel pump sounds ok so that's good. Must have started the bugger 8 or 9 times today including a few times by the mechanic, and it started every time. 3oC when I left for work this morning, and 18oC when I left work at lunchtime and started no problem at all. The emphasis being that basically the car would need to have a warning light or not start at all before anything would register. Just keep going until something goes wrong then. OK if it's just me in the car, but a bit worried incase it stops working when it's just my Wife or just her and the kids. I'll update if anything else happens. Will keep a record of this now anyway.
volts
Used to have this model before upgraded to a higher spec. Sometimes it do exactly as you describe but nowhere near the 5 or 6 times more like the 2 or 3. (and only warm days) I did notice if it failed to start i'd turn off the radio and it would start 1st time (sounds real weird) but true.
STEADS
does it turn over or just nothing on the key at all cos autos have an inhibitor switch on the auto box to stop starting in drive position it could be that thats playin up .just a thought .
kevws77
[quote name='volts' timestamp='1332771454' post='174507']
Used to have this model before upgraded to a higher spec. Sometimes it do exactly as you describe but nowhere near the 5 or 6 times more like the 2 or 3. (and only warm days) I did notice if it failed to start i'd turn off the radio and it would start 1st time (sounds real weird) but true.
[/quote]
Thanks Volts. I'll bear it in mind although I'm very careful that everything (lights, radio etc) is off before the car is switched off. Thought it must be me at first but it's happened to my Wife a few times too. Really bizarre but if you google it then it seems to be a fairly common problem but of course it's like diagnosing an illness online - symptoms can mean so many different things are wrong. My wife is out doing the shopping at the moment so hope it doesn't play up while she's out by herself. I did wonder about the possibility of the choke. Where the mix changes depending on how cold it is. Maybe it was playing up until it realised the temperature outside?? Who knows. Thanks for your help though.
kevws77
[quote name='STEADS' timestamp='1332779160' post='174518']
does it turn over or just nothing on the key at all cos autos have an inhibitor switch on the auto box to stop starting in drive position it could be that thats playin up .just a thought .
[/quote]
Hi Steads, It's a strange one. It seems to turn over but the engine has no power. Try again a couple of times and it's as though nothings wrong. Fires up perfectly. On the rarer occasion where it seems to fire up about half-way, I leave it running and within a couple of seconds, it is up to full power. I am very careful that everything is switched off and PARK is selected and the handbrake is on before switching off. As I mentioned to Volts in the previous reply, the choke had crossed my mind, but just not sure. It's the old adage but even the dealer said you could end up checking and changing all sorts of parts, but until the problem is no longer intermittent, it may not help anyway (when the bugger packs up knowing our luck - I won't go into it as you would never believe the misfortune my wife and I have had with our last few cars - when I've told people they can't believe it). Why is it these things always get worse when your skint? :angry:
volts
You say it has no power then slowly creeps up after a minute or so. To me it sounds as if the car isn't always getting the mixture of fuel etc right from the off like you sad the choke comes to mind and it appears this is the culprit.
STEADS
I take this is a petrol have you tried changing the fuel filter .my mates got a 1.6 petrol mk 1.5 recently had similar probs ended up being the pump in the tank you could try the filter first cheaper option and easier to change just had similar prob on my 2.0 diesel that ended up being a naff pump after a lot of head scratching has your obd got the capability to read the fuel pressure worth noting at what pressure it fires at . check basics first fuel filter air filter plugs leads . what mileage is on the clock ? might even be a coil pack problem . disconnect your leads from plugs noting what order they go back in get a spare spark plug and connect to one of the leads hold against the block with well insulated pliers get someone to crank it over see weather your getting a decent spark if not i,d start looking at the coil pack .like you say could be many things but like few above you can check yourself without the labour costs of a garage and if it cures it your quids in if once its started it runs fine i cant see it being anything major could be even down to a dirty sensor nieghbour had this problem on a clio it was the cam sensor a bit fouled up cleaned it up and started alright since if no codes are being thrown up process of illimination basics first .hope you get it sorted nothing more annoying i know .
kevws77
[quote name='STEADS' timestamp='1332852710' post='174620']
I take this is a petrol have you tried changing the fuel filter .my mates got a 1.6 petrol mk 1.5 recently had similar probs ended up being the pump in the tank you could try the filter first cheaper option and easier to change just had similar prob on my 2.0 diesel that ended up being a naff pump after a lot of head scratching has your obd got the capability to read the fuel pressure worth noting at what pressure it fires at . check basics first fuel filter air filter plugs leads . what mileage is on the clock ? might even be a coil pack problem . disconnect your leads from plugs noting what order they go back in get a spare spark plug and connect to one of the leads hold against the block with well insulated pliers get someone to crank it over see weather your getting a decent spark if not i,d start looking at the coil pack .like you say could be many things but like few above you can check yourself without the labour costs of a garage and if it cures it your quids in if once its started it runs fine i cant see it being anything major could be even down to a dirty sensor nieghbour had this problem on a clio it was the cam sensor a bit fouled up cleaned it up and started alright since if no codes are being thrown up process of illimination basics first .hope you get it sorted nothing more annoying i know .
[/quote]
You are a star as always Steads. Yeah it's petrol. No issues at all on Monday, then yesterday leaving work started at 3rd attempt. I kept a very close eye and ear on it this time and can say that the engine started and then died almost immediately on both the forst 2 attempts. No dash lights. I have asked advice of a friend of mine (unfortunately he lives over 100 miles away) as he used to be a Diagnostic Mechanic for Vauxhall for years, and he thinks it might be the the IAC (Idle Air Control) Valve. They can get dirty/clogged up and play up. Needs cleaning with some brake fluid. Anyway, I've caved in and booked tomorrow off work and got a local mobile mechanic coming out to have a look (he's pretty good, and I'd rather give someone local my money for the basics than the Dealer). He'll check the Spark Plugs, Coil Pack, IAC etc. At least we'll know if it's any of the obvious things. Whatever happens I'll update anyway. Mileage is somewhere around 52 or 53K.
artscot79
makes sense the idle control valve sounds like its intermittently sticking usually ill bet in colder weather? had similar with my mk1 1.8 so i changed the plugs idle control valve and the battery for a silver calcium battery and never had the issues again
kevws77
[quote name='artscot79' timestamp='1332946829' post='174812']
makes sense the idle control valve sounds like its intermittently sticking usually ill bet in colder weather? had similar with my mk1 1.8 so i changed the plugs idle control valve and the battery for a silver calcium battery and never had the issues again
[/quote]
Hi artscot, thanks for replying. Weirdly I don't recall it having trouble in the cold. It was 3oC on Monday when I left for work and started ok, then around 17oC when I left and it was OK. Same Tuesday (yesterday) but played up as I was leaving work then at around 18oc. Then today 4oC when I left for work and started OK, and when I left work today it was 24oC and was fine again. I am a worrier but it's driving me mad. Forgive my ignorance, but when you say "plugs", do you mean spark plugs? (not glowplugs). Silly I know but I m trying to pick it up.I think the battery is pretty basic but was only changed in November I think. Had a little look at the engine and it looks quite clean an the battery looks in great condition. Total mileage at the moment is around 52 or 53 K so about average for it's age. Thanks again.
kevws77
Well, the Mechanic came out this morning and had a look. Started no problem of course! Ran the diagnostic machine twice and found no faults. Found out where the IAC valve is and he cleaned it up (he said there was quite a bit of soot on it) with some Carb Cleaner and a little Brake Fluid. When he started the car again he left the air manifold off to show that the IAC moves to let air in when the car is revved. Put it all back together. £50 all in so can't complain - at least I didn't have to take it anywhere and leave it overnight for them to do the same thing. You can hear the IAC reset itself when you turn off the engine if you have your ear close enough - asked my Wife to wait until I was listening outside the car before she turned the ignition off. Had a trip into my local town about 4 miles away. Parked in the shopping centre and walked about for a couple of hours and it started first time when we returned (it tends to play up every 2 days so was expecting it to play up today at some point). Anyway, the tell-tale signs will be over the coming days. I'll report back and see if it's helped. Maybe the soot/dirt was causing it to stick, so we'll have to wait and see. Thanks in the meantime for all of your help and advice guys, it is much appreciated.
STEADS
Glad youve got it sorted (fingers crossed) at a reasonable price as well if it happens again in the future you know where to look and what to do .
kevws77
[quote name='STEADS' timestamp='1333048494' post='175016']
Glad youve got it sorted (fingers crossed) at a reasonable price as well if it happens again in the future you know where to look and what to do .
[/quote]

Thanks Steads. Famous last words but have had no problems for a few days at least (not holding my breath but have got everything crossed), but feel I must share the following details with anyone who experiences the same problem. I have found out that the mechanic cleaned the disc-shaped valve in the throttle body. This sits flush inside it's housing and is visible if you loosen the left-hand jubilee clip on the air manifold, and pull the manifold off. It looks like a disc with a bolt running from left to right (so that it rocks back and forth/open and closed when the accelerator is pressed) - looks a bit like this (closest picture I could find) ....
[img]http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41JlqVjPi2L._SL500_AA300_.jpg[/img]

This had soot on it so he cleaned it up with carb cleaner and a little brake fluid. Now, just below this is a metal air valve (the IAC) that's outside is shaped like a hexagon, and has two air holes in it - the inside of the IAC valve is not visible to the naked eye without removing the throttle body - which looks something like this if it were all unbolted, and sits under the throttlebody on the left and facing right (again, best picture I could find)....
[img]http://www.auto-sensors.co.uk/ekmps/shops/autosensor/images/ford-focus-1.8-2.0-16v-idle-air-control-valve-new-217-p.jpg[/img]

Now, this has a plastic plunger-type valve that goes up and down with the power/revs of the car depending on how much the accelerator is being used (opens more the harder the accelelorator is pressed). These apparently can get stuck shut with dirt/soot/carbon deposits/oil/grease etc and that is why the car starts and then dies straight away. I found this video on youtube which I am hoping explains this. Although it is for a USA Ford Van with a much bigger engine, this is EXACTLY what our car does, and I think other people's cars do (the positioning of the IAC in the Focus is nothing like this, it is just that the situation of the valve sticking is exactly like this).

[media]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDpCObTUoiw&feature=related[/media]

A quick fix seems to be to clean the throttle body, and the best solution I imagine is to get the IAC replaced. I have done quite a bit of research for this (much to my Wife's annoyance as she says I obsess too much over things), and unless you are a bit of an expert, I think it's best to let a professional do it.

I will keep this updated as regularly as I can as I have a feeling this won't be the end of it, but I really hope this helps anyone who has this or similar problems. It is so annoying when faults are intermittent and don't show up on the daignostics. Wishing everyone who has helped me on here and any readers/followers of these brilliant forums all the very best.
kevws77
Hi Guys, Didn't think I'd be on again this quick, but here I am. The Car has been fine everyday since the Throttle Body Clean last Thursday until today (5 days with no problems). From cold this morning, the car wouldn't start until the 3rd attempt. Just like the video in my last post post above, it starts and stalls out/dies straight away. I'm thinking that the IAC has just got alot of dirt/carbon in it, and it was only loosened up a bit with the Throttle Body cleaning. Still no warning/check engine lights. A friend has said that next time he's in the area, he'll clean the IAC for me, but I've read a few stories that because the sensitive coating on these type of valves can get ruined (especially on Ford's), replacement would be better. Do any of you guys know if I take it to either Ford or a Local Mechanic, whether they'll replace it at my request, even though there's no warning lights yet. I don't want to be ripped off or fobbed off with any other ideas considering the amount of research i've done - I would hope I might be right - and considering once the Throttle Body was cleaned I have a hassle free 5 days, something has at least pointed us in the right direction? I am not sure how expensive it will be, but worth it if they do a good job. I am not sure what else to do and am worried that it will seize up and cripple the car when we're out somewhere or when my Wife and Kid's are by themselves. I am not sure if the IAC is known by another name, but a couple of people who I've spoken to don't seem to understand what I'm talking about until I fully explain it's function. One thing's for sure, with this playing up, I'm thinking about looking for a job closer to home. My work moved last year and it is such a long and monotonous journey to work and home via public transport. If the car packed up at the time I leave for work, and I then need to get the train and bus, I'd be nearly 2 hours late :( ! Any help you guys could give is always appreciated.
artscot79
cleaning the icv idle control valve rarely works replacement is the best option replacements easy 3 bolts unclip the connector and its off i just replace myself
kevws77
[quote name='artscot79' timestamp='1333442080' post='175955']
cleaning the icv idle control valve rarely works replacement is the best option replacements easy 3 bolts unclip the connector and its off i just replace myself
[/quote]
Thanks artscot. I just lifted the bonnet but can't see anything really below the air manifold. I know on the left hand side of it was the Throttle Body and think this might be underneath. Do you need access from under the car, or can it be done from topside? I'm not trained/knowledgeable enough to do it myself, so it would have to be someone that new what they were doing. If it's a case of it going to Ford and it takes a couple of hours then fine, but nobody seems to know what I mean by Idle Air Control. Thanks.
kevws77
Ever feel like you've run head first into a Brick Wall? After reading forum after forum and doing countless hours of research I gave up and rang my local Ford Dealer. Spoke to the Service Department and he checked and confirmed that our car doesn't have an IAC. The throttle body itself is £330 plus VAT plus Labour. They're happy tp do the work (I'll bet) but understandably can't guarantee that it will sort the problem as there is nothing on the diagnostics. Could it really have no IAC??? :o


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