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Tdci Focus Wont Start Unless Towed! Please Help!

tdci starting wont start

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#1 digger2020

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Posted 16 February 2013 - 09:17 PM

hi all, i am new to the forum having migrated from the galaxy owners club as i now have a focus tdci.
i really could use some advice from someone familiar with the 1.8 tdci 115 engine please.
fuel filter was replaced last week, had to prime afterwards to get fuel through then started fine asn ran all week no problem, was a little slower to start in the mornings following the filter change so as a precaution i also replaced the 'o' rings in the 3 pipes which connect to the filter, primed and started, ran fine.
next day started better, and was booked in at my trusted garage for timing belt change as i dont have the kit to do it, they phoned and said it was done, but when i went to collect it it wouldnt start. they tried everything to get it going but to no avail.
it had been started after the belt change before i collected and ran fine. it was still in the workshop in the same spot where it had been worked on when i got there. eventually they towed it after the battery died and it started within 20 feet!
it was then parked up for half an hour, and then wouldnt start again. cranked over several times, plenty of power in battery, starter spins fast, even with a booster battery it wouldnt go, then towed again and fired almost immediately. had all the guys in the workshop scratching their heads (theyre not diesel specialists but good all-rounders)
my question is therefore - what is the problem!? has anyone experienced similar issues?
i have read forums where non starting issues have been cured by replacing various parts from cps to hp pump, but the point it, when it starts it runs a treat, no hiccup, misfire, doesnt miss a beat and pulls strongly throughout the whole rev range. there are no warning lights, no flashing glow light etc so i am at a loss as to what to do with it.
if anyonew could offer any useful advice i would really appreciate it.
sorry for the long explanation but thought better to tell whole story in one go for all to read!!
many thanks in advance :-)

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#2 digger2020

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Posted 16 February 2013 - 09:22 PM

forgot to mention, the reason for the filter change was the car would sometimes shudder under steady speed for a few seconds and i read on here somewhere that the filter could be the cause - it was, and ran smoothly again after the change. it was running well for a week prior to going in for the timing belt, and covered around 300 miles of lots of stop starting etc with no issues at all.

#3 Stoney871

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 04:11 AM

Have you checked the fuel filter seal?
There can be air getting into the fuel lines causing an air lock or the fuel to drain back out of the lines.
If the seal is leaking or not seated properly it will cause problems with initial fuel starvation.
The seal should always be changed at the same time as the filter as it pinches and hardens over time and never re-seats properly a second time.
Another thing you could do is try some BG244 diesel injector cleaner, available on eBay for about 19 a can, dump a tin of it in a tank of diesel and it will help to flush crud out of your injectors and fuel lines.

#4 digger2020

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 08:27 AM

thanks for the reply clive - i have 3 pipes to my filter, with small 'o' rings inside the sleeves which plumb onto the filter, i changed the 'o' rings a couple of days after the filter, just to be sure. i also put a load of grease around the filter tails to make sure they sealed. i cant think of anything else to try! :wacko:

#5 STEADS

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 10:50 AM

Are the seals seated correctly not being funny but had a starting prob on a mondeo once after changing fuel filter turned ot it was one of the o rings not seated correctly within connnector worth a check like above sounds like its dragging air also had a similar prob on my 2.0 l after an engine change took ages to start when it did sounded fine switch off for half an hour same prob so changed pump from original engine started and ran fine (till the turbo blew not related though) i would certainly be looking around the filter starting with the o rings. let us know how you get on

#6 STEADS

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 11:05 AM

just a thought when you disconected the fuel lines where the orings sitting on top of the filter or still in the line (where they should be)again not being funny but if they where sat on the filter housing is this where you replaced them to or did you actually take them out of the line and replace them to there just some one on here posted a similar prob after changing his filter the other day and couldnt get it restarted his o ring had fallen on the floor . i think people think it sits on the filter housing as thats where it is when the line is removed which is wrong it sits there where the line is difficult to remove and comes out of its proper position in the line so if you replace it in the wrong position it does not seal correctly.

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#7 digger2020

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 12:21 PM

hi steads, thanks very much for your advice. yes i did replace the o rings, they were still inline as they should be when i took filter off to change it, and after refitting the first time it was a bit difficult to start the next day so i bought new ones and re-seated them inside the pipes as per your picture, which as you will know if you have done them yourself, is a real tricky job! it took about 2 hours of repeated attempts and patience to get them seated correctly but they did go in properly in the end. the o rings were bought from a hydraulic specialist shop so may well be slightly thinner so maybe that would cause non-seal onto the filter though they did seem to slip onto the filter with reasonable 'tightness'. strange how it started well the morning after i fitted these though, but wouldnt later in the day..... the car is still at the garage as they close for the weekend but it does sound like that may be an issue still - i had an aftermarket filter so i suppose its possible that the stems are microns narrower than a genuine ford filter and the fit is not as tight as it should be. i will phone them tomorrow morning and ask them to try resealing the pipes. is there any recommended product you know of which would assist in the sealing? i.e. instant gasket or similar/silicon? obviously it would need to be diesel-resistant. the only other option i suppose will be to 'cut and shut' the original pipework with some flexi fuel pipe and hoseclips to eliminate this as the possible cause before trying anything else.
many thanks again for taking the time to reply - much appreciated.

#8 STEADS

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 05:42 PM

personaly i wouldnt use any sort of sealant just use diesel to get them to slip on to the housing by using anything else you chance it getting into the injectors or pump how long have you run it for since the filter change on my 2.0l it was running back after about half an hour you could see the air in the line . pssible it just needs a good run to disperse any air left in the system .let us know how you get on

#9 digger2020

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 05:56 PM

thanks again for replying. it was running for around half an hour i think after the guys at the workshop tow started it - it had got up to normal temperature anyway, but just left running outside the door not taken for a run. i'll see what they say tomorrow when they have checked everything over again but maybe it does just need to be driven to remove the last of the air so i'll ask them to try that first. will post back when i hear from them. it would be so useful if ford had incorporated a low pressure pump in the tank like the petrol models have, it would avoid all this kind of problems, i dont think there is even a lift pump on these afaik, though my mondeo 2.0 tddi which i owned a couple of years ago had one which partly helped to get the fuel up.

#10 STEADS

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 06:10 PM

i was that frustrated when this happened on my 2.0L that i actually made up a spare line from the filter to the pump with a primer bulb in line would of worked if the primer buld had a non return valve.

#11 digger2020

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 06:24 PM

that sounds like a good idea. i was thinking about adding a non return valve on the feed pipe to the filter from the tank - do you think that would stop any further issues with air in the system ?(if it turns out that air is the problem!), though i was a little concerned about cutting and rejoining the plastic pipe near the filter and being able to seal it correctly afterwards. knowing my luck i would replace one point of air ingress with another!

#12 STEADS

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Posted 17 February 2013 - 06:52 PM

i was lucky in that respect i had spare line off the old engine (from pump to filter) so like you i would of been wary of doing it the other side of the filter i,m sure you will get to the bottom of it without having to resort to that as the only part disturbed has been the filter and lines so you know where the problem lyes.

#13 digger2020

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 09:07 AM

well this is strange - the garage have phoned me already and said the car started fine this morning having sat in the shop all weekend and had nothing done to it...........going to pick up later so we'll see what its like and post results! :D

#14 STEADS

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 12:35 PM

well fingers crossed its sorted .

#15 digger2020

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Posted 18 February 2013 - 02:20 PM

got the car back, apparently it started first time this morning at the workshop. we tried it when we got home while still hot, started first time again, and i let it cool off for an hour or so and just tried it again and it still starts first go. really strange this has been, it actually fires much quicker than it ever did before the filter was changed now so perhaps it was a matter of getting the last of the air out of the lines and now its all gone??
just relieved that there was no huge bills having just paid for timing belt to be done, but thanks steads for the advice you have been offering, all knowledge is valuable. :D

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