Charlieepie

Diesel '09 Focus - 'Surging'/intermittent loss of power

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Hi all, I'm new to the forums - sorry for my first post being quite a long 'please help' but I'm sure I'll stick around 😅

Anyway, my other half an I bought an '09 Ford Focus Zetec - the 1.6 TDCi version, with 103000 miles on the clock - about a week and a half ago as his old car was on its way out. We travelled a lot over the xmas period so have managed to pile nearly 1000 miles on it since buying. 

Anyway, after doing about 400/500 miles, most of which were motorway, we noticed this kind of 'pulsing', it felt like he was putting his foot on the accelerator and lifting, and repeat. This was alongside a strange cyclic noise from the bonnet I can't really describe. It was at 70mph on the motorway and was really noticeable with his foot on the accelerator, much less so when he lifted off. Car would stay at about 70mph but wouldn't accelerate any more even when we dropped a gear. Lasted about 5-10 mins and then stopped, the car got all of its oomph back and drove fine - until we swapped over at a services, I drove about 20 mins and again, 70mph on a dual carriageway and it started doing its weird surging. Again 5-10 mins then everything fine. 

Did a bit of googling, I know a bit about cars but not much about diesel faults (I usually drive my Toyota Aygo, yes horribly girly car I know!), and found a few common issues that people suggest could be causing it - namely DPF, EGR valve, and fuel injectors/filters/general fuel system. But from all the posts I found (some may have been an older thread on here), nobody had a definitive 'it was this and we fixed it like this', or really knew what the issue is. (Posts and reviews also now make me think maybe the 1.6 TDCi engine wasn't the greatest buy but hindsight is a wonderful thing).

Took it into our local garage (not a Ford specialist, but always serviced my other half's old car and did a good job). They did engine diagnostics and found no fault codes, gave it a blast on the dual carriageway and it did it's 'surging' thing again. They then replaced the EGR valve as 'it looked worn' and they couldn't find any other issue. Since they've done this we've taken it for a few blasts on the dual carriageway and it's not done it again, but we're a bit of a way from the motorway so won't get a chance to give it a proper long blast for a couple more days and I suppose won't really find out if it's stopped until then. 

However we've now noticed that if we're sitting at 30mph in 3rd gear it starts to do it again. Nowhere near as bad or as noticeable as at 70mph on the motorway and if I put my foot down theres no problem accelerating, there's just a weird surge and a bit of a noise from the bonnet that sounds like I'm squeezing the accelerator and letting go over and over again. Seems different to previous motorway problem as that was mainly when pressing the accelerator, whereas now pressing the accelerator almost seems to help and the car still goes some when I put my foot down. (I'm maybe not the best to judge general power loss though, anything feels fast compared to a 1 ltr petrol).

Anyway I was just wondering if anyone had experienced this or knows someone that has previously, and what was the problem (if you ever actually managed to sort it out)? As said we've had the EGR valve done, the DPF was replaced according to the mountain of paperwork that came with it at the back end of 2016 at about 80000 miles and in October 2018 it went into the garage to have its glow plugs replaced and at the same time had a forced DPF regeneration done (so it must have been clogged then I suppose). Haven't really considered the turbo, but I didn't know whether a buggered turbo would cause intermittent problems rather than constant. 

Next step is I've got a bottle of Redex DPF cleaner to add to the tank next time we refuel (don't know how good this stuff is or whether it's even worth it), then give it a blast on the motorway on Thursday leaving it in 4th gear at 70 to get the engine hot and hopefully blast whatever crap may be in the DPF away. We're away on holiday for a couple of weeks beginning of Feb but when we're back from that we'll book it in for a full service at the local Ford spot and if its still misbehaving get them to have a look at the fuel injectors for us. Anyone else got any more suggestions? It's so frustrating given how long we've had the car!

Cheers,

Charlotte

 

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Hi Charlotte,

I have had similar (though not identical) with my 09 1.6 TDCI 110 with surging or 'kangarooing' at partial throttle/low speed and a regular complete loss of power at motorway speeds...almost like the turbo has vanished! This was an intermittent fault but once it lost power the only thing that would bring it back is turning the ignition off for a second or two and restarting.  Through all of this no codes were ever logged by the ECU so difficult to diagnose...hence it was left undiagnosed for some time! Finally, the turbo started blowing grey smoke out of the back of the VNT housing and so there was my fault! The variable vanes on the turbo were completely shagged but after almost 10 years, 80k miles and a serious case of 'while i'm in there' syndrome I have ended up with a full DPF clean and replacement EGR as well as the turbo rebuild and full (overdue) service.

Not saying yours will be the same issue but if paperwork shows DPF, EGR replacement and a recent forced regen, it sounds like this problem has been 'chased' for a while. I would also cast doubt as to whether a DPF cleaner will make much of a difference in your case, its only done 20k since replacement 2 years ago so will probably be OK. I would get the turbo checked...if it is knackered, it is a relatively straight forward fix - my turbo was rebuilt by Midland Turbos in Nottingham who collected and delivered the unit within the repair price of £200 but I am sure there will be someone closer to you. I would also check diesel injectors as the seals are know to fail which can lead to turbo failure...there will be black carbon around the injector if the seal has failed. There is also an upgraded turbo oil feed pipe mod to address a known weakness on this engine.

Hope this helps in some way!

Gavin.

P.S. The 1.6 TDCI isn't all that bad...in almost 10 years of ownership mine has only needed standard servicing and 1 set of tyres! Even with the issues that it is having now, the cost to repair will still be way less than what I have saved in road tax over the 1.8TDCI! 

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The 1.6 is a great engine, after 2008 most of the niggles where fixed like that dodge oil feed / return pipe but its strongly suggested to complete services at 6-8k intervals. 

It could actually be anything, you have mentioned the common areas to look at but before you get them to replace the injectors for no reason you can do a leak test on them. its dead easy on the 1.6, get 4 containers, 4 bits of thin hose and connect each container to the leak off connector on the injector (black rubber hose with wise nylon bradding  and then idle the engine for 5 min or so, then get it up to about 2500 for a couple of min and repeat a couple of times. 

if an injector is nackard one of the signs is that a lot of fuel will bypass the injector and come out that hose, what it will look like when new would be 4 bottles with a small amount of diesel in it. if its full or if one or more are significantly more than the others then you have a problem. 

also get the fuel filter changed, its quite expensive, expect to pay about 40 quid.

I cant remember if the EGR has learne values that need reset, if it does and if the garage didn't do it, then its possible it doesn't know there is a new EGR valve in there which might not operate in the same way as the original one.

theres also the fuel rail pressure sensor, fuel rail pressure valve and pump, which could be causing problems. although if its pressure related id have thought it would throw up a DTC.

theres also the MAF and MAP sensors, these can get covered in crap, get some electrical contact cleaner and clean them both, the MAF is just after the Airbox on the right of the engine. the MAP is just before it enters the inlet manifold, if you find the turbo then look to the left of it, you will see a large rubber pipe rise from the intercooler, just after that pipe you will find the MAP screwed in.

 

the DPF should throw up a DTC, however, something to look at is if its been gutted, get the car off the ground, take the under tray off and look at the large metallic can,  towards the top of it sits the turbo, down the bottom it will turn 90 degrees with a short exhaust pipe that joins to a flexy pipe, where that can turns 90 degrees, look for obvious signs of welding, its possible its been gutted and if it wasn't done right then you might experience problems.

Theres also two rubber hoeses that come out the side of the DPF at the front, check them both, they rise up and clip on to a sensor strapped to the battery box. down at the DPF those rubber pipes can get really hot and brittle and in some cases snap off.,

Whatever is wrong, dont let the garage pull the wool over your eyes and change half the car, you could end up replacing half the engine before you get to the actual problem all of which will cost you a lot of money! 

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Hi both, cheers for the replies so far.

Yeah I’m am quite cautious of the garages just doing unecessary work because they’re otherwise not sure, wasn’t really that happy with replacing the EGR because it ‘looked worn’ but at least it wasn’t too expensive. I’ll have a look at what I can get access to at the weekend, in the week by the time I’m home from work it’s pitch black at the minute.

Meanwhile we’ll stick some DPF cleaner through it and give the car a good blast as we’ve got it anyway and it’s no good for my car. I know the DPF was done a couple of years back so really should be fine but if the previous owner didn’t drive it in a way that allowed it to regenerate properly then might it have issues? Having to have it forced by a garage in October doesn’t look great to me but this might be more common than I think I suppose?

If I can’t find anything obvious we’ll take it in to get the turbo looked at/codes read again when we get it serviced. I’ll get the fuel filter changed then too, wasn’t expecting it to be cheap though.

As for the general history of the car, to me it looks like it’s been looked after, receipts for work suggest it’s been taken to the garage as soon as it’s had a sniff of an issue and it’s been serviced regularly however it hasn’t been done every 6-8k. Done yearly every December apart from this one just gone  - looks like the previous owners got rid sometime between it going into the garage for glow plugs/DPF and it’s next MOT/service being due. So we’ll be getting it serviced imminently and then more regularly afterwards. I suppose I’m hoping if the engine had other issues this would have been picked up when it went in in October. 

 

 

 

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Not driving the car correctly is a sure way to fill up the DPF with soot, this can be corrected to some extent with a static forced regeneration as long as it isnt too bad, ideally it shouldnt need to do this. that DPF stuff is a waste of money, you would be best taking the car out early one morning and thrashing it up the motorway for 20 min in 3rd or 4th gear, try get it up to about 3000 RPM 🙂 

Ford say every 12k but for those of us that have been here for a while, more is better, especially with this engine. the pre 2008 models tended to be a lot worse to the point that you would be hard to find a garage these days that will even fix turbo related problems. if not done to a very specific set of guides, there is no warranty, you hear stories of people going in, dropping 500 quid on a recon'd turbo and getting 10 miles down the road and it blowing up again.

So with that in mind, 6k - 8k servicing doesn't seem like such a bad idea but of course we do it ourselves so the cost is like 40 quid.

I have a feeling the DPF was changed in 2009 to a ceramic one which was much better and shouldnt be as much of a problem.

If you look under the car at the back, no need to jack it up, I think its either between the wheel well and the sub frame or the fuel tank and the sub frame you will see a small black container with a couple of pipes coming out of it. its perhaps only about 2L or so in size. If you have that then you have the older DPF in which case it might be worth asking the garage to see if it needs filling up with a special fluid. if you dont have it then you have a ceramic DPF.

if it were me id buy https://tunnelrat-electronics.fwscart.com/USB_Modified_ELM327/p4541936_17045457.aspx

then download https://forscan.org/download.html (its free)

and check those DTCs yourself, you can also use it to monitor what is going on as you drive which can be very useful

you will need a laptop, if you dont have one but you do have a newish android device you might be able to purchase the android version and using a dongle connect the USB ELM device to youe phone

Id avoid bluetooth if possible but its an option with a different ELM device

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It’s the plan tomorrow to give it a good run in a lower gear on the motorway as I’m away for work, we drive it down the motorway pretty regularly but don’t live close enough to just take it out for a spin - we do limit short journeys it does though. Hopefully that’ll blast any crap away that may or may not be sitting in the DPF. I’ll also have a look later as you suggest and see if I can work our what type of DPF we've got. I’ve seen comments online about the DPF types being changed so am crossing my fingers it was in time for 09 plate Focus’s rather than for the 59 plate ones. At any rate hopefully giving it a good blast tomorrow will end the problems and I won’t need to poke around too much at the weekend. Although given what you said about all the things it could be I’ll still have a look at what I can get my hands on, we’ve just moved house so have loads to do on that front so can’t spend half the weekend looking at the car!

 

We’ll definitely be getting the servicing done more frequently than previous owners, hopefully when we’ve got this sorted tightening up the servicing stops something else going wrong with it as we’re otherwise really happy with the car so we’ll be keeping hold of it for a few years. 

 

I’ll also look into those readers, I’ve got an Apple laptop and phone so need to check compatability of everything before I buy but could be a good bet rather than shelling out at the garage just for them to read codes for me (or plug it in and find nothing like last time)

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just mind how a DPF works, you need heat and lots of it sustained over a good amount of time, slowing down isnt any good, your trying to burn the soot and turn it in to ash, you cant blow it out so to speak, you have to convert it. eventually the DPF, even if run properly, will fill up with ash at which point your will need it professionally cleaned or replaced....

assuming thats your problem of course!

 

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Yeah I know, I’m not 100% familiar with how they work but I know the engine needs to be hot so needs running in a lower gear, I’m about to set off for a good 2 hour motorway drive, on the M6 in Cumbria which doesn’t usually have many cars on at all so not slowing down shouldn’t be a problem, and I’ll leave it in 4th fear for a good chunk of time. Will see if this solve the issue. What confuses me is the EGR valve replacement seems to have stopped it doing it’s weird surging thing at higher speeds but the lower speed problem only just started. We’ll see if that high speed problem really has gone away on the motorway though but on the local dual carriageway it’s been absolutely fine.

of course if it’s not the DPF I’ll be prodding around at the weekend!

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Yesterday’s journey was very short lived - engine light came on about 10 mins in so the journey was aborted 🙄

Will have a look at everything I can get at tomorrow/Sunday, otherwise it’s booked into the local ford garage next Friday for them to diagnose etc. I’ll want a ‘we have found this and it’s definitely wrong’ statement off these guys before they change anything though..

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Just an update in case anyone else suffers the same issue or has any other ideas.

just dropped the car off at Ford to be properly looked at tomorrow. Just had a call saying they’ve already plugged it into the code reader and fault is... EGR valve. They’ll have a proper look tomorrow but they reckon for the price we paid it wasn’t a ford part fitted so I’m thinking it might be what you mentioned further up - it’s been fitted and the cars control system doesn’t know.

Will see what they come back with tomorrow but won’t be impressed if they try and sting me for another EGR valve as that one is new!

 

 

 

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