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Mk2.5 Dash/Electrical Fault


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Hello All,

For a few months my 2008 Focus has refused to start (no starter activation at all) and the dash will show the 'Engine Malfunction' warning, with the solution being to jump the car. To begin with this was extremely rare, so I put it down to the battery being old. However, recently it has been happening more frequently, and at times the engine malfunction warning would appear even when the car starts successfully. I also discovered that I could solve the issue by waiting, for some reason even after not starting the car would sometimes start.

This all culminated recently where the car only started on the 5th or 6th try. Then, while driving the engine malfunction warning flashed up, all the lights came on, the dials died and the car entered 'reduced acceleration mode'. The remainder of that drive consisted of the dash periodically giving me the engine malfunciton warning, and the dials coming back alive and dying again. Interestingly the ABS light stayed on throughout all of this. The engine seemed fine to drive.

Im not expecting a full diagnosis from this, but if any of you could give any tips or suggestions as to what sort of fault this might be it would be good to inform my next moves.

Cheers

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It will be badly soldered connections in the instrument cluster. Its a common problem and if you have good soldering skills you can do it yourself or there is plenty places around doing the job but require posting the cluster to them. 

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27 minutes ago, F0CUE said:

It will be badly soldered connections in the instrument cluster. Its a common problem and if you have good soldering skills you can do it yourself or there is plenty places around doing the job but require posting the cluster to them. 

Great thanks very much, I suppose thats relatively good news. Im not sure my soldering skills are good but I can have a go at least. Would this be causing the non starting issues though?

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25 minutes ago, unofix said:

How old is the battery? You need to check the battery is getting a good charge from the Alternator. Have you checked the DTC for fault codes 

Thanks. I assume that the battery is as old as the car is. However the garage supposedly tested the battery when it last went in for an MOT at the end of last year and they say its fine. I havent checked any fault codes.

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Hi Usonql, (welcome to the forum), very often with an older car very odd and strange things start to happen when the electrical system is not in tip top condition. After the car has been standing overnight test the battery voltage, in an ideal world it should not be less than 12.4V. Then start the engine and with car at a fast idle (about 1500 RPM) measure the battery voltage, it needs to be at least 13.6V but not more than 14.8V

Do the checks and let us know what the results are.

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5 minutes ago, unofix said:

Hi Usonql, (welcome to the forum), very often with an older car very odd and strange things start to happen when the electrical system is not in tip top condition. After the car has been standing overnight test the battery voltage, in an ideal world it should not be less than 12.4V. Then start the engine and with car at a fast idle (about 1500 RPM) measure the battery voltage, it needs to be at least 13.6V but not more than 14.8V

Do the checks and let us know what the results are.

Hi Unofix. Thanks very much what a fantastic answer. The car has been sat for a couple of days and the battery is reading 12.45V. Ill have to wait for the other half to get home before I can do a fast idle test.

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7 hours ago, F0CUE said:

It will be badly soldered connections in the instrument cluster. Its a common problem and if you have good soldering skills you can do it yourself or there is plenty places around doing the job but require posting the cluster to them. 

My vote for this. Had similar issues Nov '20.

But definitely also check charging and battery as suggested by @unofix

And yes, bad cluster connectivity may prevent car to start (at least in my case). Turn key, but nothing happens. I hit the dashboard - and car starts. And this happened several times - was kind of exciting game(?) whether car will start or not.
I re-soldered the pins of harness connector in PCB - and not these issues after that.

1211557625_IMG_20201110_171757Copy.thumb.jpg.cc660f5ad392e9a2a4ff5acf9a390775.jpg

 

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Edited by AR7530v6
Removed duplicate picture.
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7 hours ago, unofix said:

Hi Usonql, (welcome to the forum), very often with an older car very odd and strange things start to happen when the electrical system is not in tip top condition. After the car has been standing overnight test the battery voltage, in an ideal world it should not be less than 12.4V. Then start the engine and with car at a fast idle (about 1500 RPM) measure the battery voltage, it needs to be at least 13.6V but not more than 14.8V

Do the checks and let us know what the results are.

So the verdict is that at 1100rpm the battery is at 14.46V, and 14.48V at 2000rpm. Within spec by the sounds of it.

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Thanks so much @AR7530v6. Yeah that looks and sounds exactly like what im dealing with. Haha yeah as fun a game as it may be at times, I think its best I get the soldering iron out. Do you have any tips/tricks/guidance on the best way to get at the PCB?

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Interesting to note that this really common issue with 'bad' soldering on the instrument cluster is all down to the 'tree hugger' generation. Ford started to use a different formula for solder excluding the use of lead, which worked fine for some years, but the 'green' formula then degrades to the point where it doesn't operated electrically anymore.

I look forward to future years of electrical issues in battery cars as everyone jumps aboard the 'look how green I am...' whilst stranded at the roadside with numerous issues not even thought of yet.

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7 hours ago, Usonql said:

So the verdict is that at 1100rpm the battery is at 14.46V, and 14.48V at 2000rpm. Within spec by the sounds of it.

Looks spot on. Time to get the soldering iron warmed up. Let's hope it goes well and the dashboard comes out easy. 

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