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Trouble Starting My Car - Please Help :-)

trouble starting idle rpm accelerator

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#1 nuttyamy

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 12:22 PM

This is my first ever post and would appreciate any help as I am running out of money trying to resolve this problem and am not in a position to buy a new car. :(

I have a 2001 focus, 1.6 zetec Automatic.

About 3 weeks ago (after a few weeks of rough idling) the car just would not start when I left work. I got it started but soon it just cut out. I got my Dad out to help, he got it started but then going up hill, the CAT burnt out. We eventually got it back home and have had the following works done:

New CAT fitted, new lambda sensor, new battery, new spark plugs (and I don't know if they are related to this but new expansion tank and new thermostat). Having all this done has fixed the idling problems that I have been having but now the following occurs.

The car will not start unless my foot is flat on the accelerator and it takes a good few seconds to finally start. When it does, the revs go straight up to 3000-4000 (I assume this is because my foot was on the accelerator). I have to wait a minute or two before I can put the car in gear otherwise it either jumps forward or just cuts out again. Most occasions I have to attempt to start the car twice and I am rather concerned that keep doing this, it is going to cause ALOT more damage and flood the engine. Once the car is running, it runs really well and there are no longer idling problems when waiting at lights etc. There is alot of white smoke that appears when the car eventually starts (which I have not noticed before so don't know if it is related or I am being paranoid) which disappears once on the move and it stinks of petrol.

PLEASE PLEASE HELP as I am now too scared to stop anywhere (even to get petrol) in case I cannot start again.

Thanks in advance

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#2 oilburner79

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 01:28 PM

I'd be looking at changing the Idle Control Valve

#3 Stoney871

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 02:14 PM

Check the oil.
If it's milky brown I'd suspect water/anti-freeze in the oil.
This can be caused by a blown head gasket.
White smoke from the exhaust usually indicates water vapour.


#4 stef123

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 03:13 PM

How did you burn the car out in the first instance? Did it block up or break up due to over fuelling?

The loads of white smoke is probably the petrol from you over fuelling it trying to get it started... Which to me sounds like how the first car failed

It sounds like you need to check out your ignition side of things, plugs, leads and coil. I would also get hold of a live data scanner and check out things like throttle position sensor.

#5 nuttyamy

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 05:04 PM

Thanks for replies so far.

"How did you burn the car out in the first instance? Did it block up or break up due to over fuelling?"

I think it got over-fuelled when I was having trouble getting it started. And then when going up hill, it used to a struggle a bit. This one particular day it starting slowing right down and there was a burning from underneath with ALOT of black smoke and then the car just stopped completely. It was after this I got all these new parts fitted and it just hasn't started right since

#6 Stoney871

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 05:08 PM

Too much unburnt fuel in the manifold and exhaust would do that.
Fuel pressure regulator. Idle control, injectors.etc all possible causes.

#7 stef123

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 08:16 PM

Have you removed the plugs to check the colour of them? This is an easy way to pin point the cylinder(s) causing the problem.. They should be light brown/grey.

Other possibilities are IAT, coolant temp etc.. Just for reference the IAT sensor is part of the MAP sensor (inlet air temp and manifold absolute pressure if you didn't know this)

A live data scanner will confirm if these are ok or not

#8 nuttyamy

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 08:42 PM

Stef123 - when you say plugs, do you mean the spark plugs? They are all brand new....

#9 stef123

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 08:50 PM

Stef123 - when you say plugs, do you mean the spark plugs? They are all brand new....


yeah. checking the colour of the plugs is a tell tale sign of whats happening in each cylinder... so you are looking for wet or black sooty plugs, they should be light brown/grey.

#10 nuttyamy

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 08:52 PM

Thanks....
As you can probably tell, I am a complete novice

#11 stef123

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 09:12 PM

Thanks....
As you can probably tell, I am a complete novice


Got to start somewhere lol. You must be keen to fix it yourself where possible by the sound of things or you would have landed the problem on a garage to fix.

Have you got access to a live data scanner? I really think you are going to need one or atleast a shot of one

#12 nuttyamy

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 09:18 PM

Trying to keep costs down so yeah trying to do as much as possible, and also need the car on a daily basis so all the while it actually runs, I can't really afford for it to be in a garage

I have a family friend who is a mechanic and he is doing as much as possible for me before I have to result in going to a specialist or anything like that.

He has a diagnostic reader which he plugged in and got the codes which were ultimately resolved by changing the lambda sensor - is this the live data scanner you mention or is this more advanced?

Since the lambda sensor was changed last week, I have had no engine management light.

#13 stef123

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 09:46 PM

Trying to keep costs down so yeah trying to do as much as possible, and also need the car on a daily basis so all the while it actually runs, I can't really afford for it to be in a garage

I have a family friend who is a mechanic and he is doing as much as possible for me before I have to result in going to a specialist or anything like that.

He has a diagnostic reader which he plugged in and got the codes which were ultimately resolved by changing the lambda sensor - is this the live data scanner you mention or is this more advanced?

Since the lambda sensor was changed last week, I have had no engine management light.


well thats good then, atleast you have someone with a bit experience.

yes the live data is a bit more advanced, it basically tells you all the data the engine is using as it happens. so for example say its a temp sensor reading -20 degrees when the actual temp on start up is 5 degrees - it will over fuel! but you would see this straight away.. but on that note, using live data you can also see what your lambda sensors are doing and watch them switching

The lambda sensor unfortunately only controls (or plays a part in) fueling once its heated up - so cold starts and for a few minutes after it has no effect.

#14 nuttyamy

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 08:02 PM

ok so new problem to add....the last couple of days the car has been starting perfectly fine. when I left work today, it started fine but the engine light came back on. A bit later I stopped off at a shop but when I got back in the car, it cut out when I put it into drive. The revs shot up to 4000 then dropped down to under 1000 and cut out. I tried leaving it for a minute to see if it sorted itself out but it cuts out each time. What might this be?

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