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Engine Stalling On Accelerating

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Hi all, longtime reader/firsttime poster here. Be gentle with me.. :blink:

I have a 2008 Ford Focus Econetic 1.6 diesel. I've been driving it for 4 years or so, but the following problem has been occurring more frequently recently, and the fact that I can't get a straight, satisfactory answer is very frustrating. See if you can help:

When I'm driving, the engine has a habit of unexpectedly stalling. It's always when I'm accelerating, usually in 2nd gear.

On a good day, when I pull away (say when lights turn green) and if I really need to get moving, I'll put my foot down when I change up to second gear. As the rev counter rises, the car accelerates - until approx 3'000 revs - where the car will seem to accelerate less for a second, before gently lurching forward and pushing you back into your seat on the way up to third gear... I don't know what this slight lull is, I assume the turbo kicking in?!?

Anyway, on a not-so-good day - which is more and more - in the same scenario, the car gets to approx 3k revs, but instead of a brief lull the engine just seems to <choke> and stalls. The car freewheels, and if I maintain control, I can switch the ignition off/on again - at which point the car responds as if nothing is wrong, and will accelerate up through 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5th gear with no hint of an issue.

The catalyst for asking help here is out of concern for the safety of my 4 month old daughter, who was in the car when I accelerated onto a dual carriageway (halfway through a journey, when the engine was fine and warm) when with no warning the engine seized. For a second all I could do was stare at the avalanche of traffic hurtling its toward us in my rear view mirror, sh!tting myself, before switching on/off and escaping. Nothing hugely traumatic, but enough to prompt me to get this looked at.

I've now been to 2 garages, and both have said the same thing: it's the diesel filter getting blocked. And there's nothing I can do about it except "give it a good drive every now and again to blow the cobwebs out". I'm told that there's a filter in new diesel cars that captures emissions, and that this is getting blocked, obstructing the airflow, and resulting in the engine seizing. Apparently, running the engine at high revs for a while burns off the deposits that can grow over time.

I don't find that to be a plausible or satisfying resopnse though - for a start, this is a family car; I very much doubt FORD are sucking their teeth saying, "sheesh, yeah, it happens sometimes, nuthin' that can be done about it, just the way it is..!".

Secondly, I use the car for business travel and two or three times a week take her out on 70+ mile roundtrips where there are plenty of extended dual carriageway high-rev opportunities. It's unlokely that your average Focus owner could reasonably be expected to give the enginer a better "clear out" with any regularity.

Thirdly, if this was the case, why does switching off/on the engine fix it? Once this problem has occurred, it's as good as new and I can accelerate as hard as I want with no problems. Surely 'accumulated emissions' would remain in situ no matter how often I switch off/on my engine?!

The seond garage I visited added an additive to my fuel tank which was designed to reduce the temperature that my exhaust emissions would begin to burn away and accumulated emissions on the filter. That was 5 days ago, and today the engine seized twice.

Can ANYONE give me any info regarding this issue? Has it happened to you? Seriously, any constructive information would be massively appreciated. Thanks all!

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Welcome to the family David,

Last couple of ocassions I have had this issue it has been fuel filter related. It tends to be due to the fuel filter. The housing can develop cracks and splits, under high pressure this draws air into the fuel system and injects fuel into the system, and as engines dont like to burn air alone they stall with no warning and no errors.

When was the car last serviced and when was the fuel filter last replaced? if its not been done for some time its the cheapest way to repair the issue, or if nothing else give your car a good bost!

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Very much appreciate you taking the time to reply here - and for the warm welcome! This has been a problem for a while (I felt like I had been banging my head against a brick wall!!) and it's a huge boost to finally have access opinions I feel that I can wholly trust.

Ill book it in, and will update you to confirm if this resolves the problem. Cheers!

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Good luck, seen it a few times and it really is so simple.

You could do it yourself? all you need is diesel, a syringe and a full battery and a whole lot of patience!

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Three weeks after having the fuel filter changed, the car is working beautifully. Problem solved!

Can't thank you enough, I would buy you a pint if I could haha. I hope my thanks will do in the meantime!! Cheers!!

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Regular filter changes is a MUST and preferably a quality filter. Nice to hear you got it sorted.

There is a wealth of knowledge on here and an amazing bunch of genuinely nice people. WELCOME TO THE CLUB :D :driving:

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