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Please Help As The Garage Cannot Find Fault......


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Dear all,

I am at the end of my tether, and was hoping that someone might have time to read the following account, and give me some ideas. Thanks in advance for anyone who might be able to help:

My car is a Ford Focus Zetec 1.6 55 plate

During 2013 (i.e. approx. 1 year)

Would be driving car and engine warning light would come on and off (intermittently for a few days at a time).

Would sometimes feel car slightly pulling, but then righting itself, but garage said could not really diagnose unless I managed to bring it in when light was actually on.

Towards end of 2013, car started cutting out when turning left or right at very slow speed, usually in 2nd gear, but was able to instantly start up again before completely coming to stop.

Also, clutch went on 12th December, and new one fitted by normal servicing garage.

Friday 3rd January 2014

After this happened a few times, and pulling episodes* started to increase I managed to get it to normal servicing garage with engine warning light on, and they ran their diagnostics machine.

*For a few seconds, the speedometer would seem to stick for a few seconds before I would feel a spurt, as it appeared to right itself again (at all speeds).

The garage said that this sounded like misfiring, and the codes that came up were:

P2300 Ignition Coil A Primary Control Circuit

P2303 Ignition Coil B

Garage changed ignition coil, and put in new spark plugs and leads.

He took it for a test drive and said although car was running fine now, the engine warning light would not go off.

He rang his electrical guy, and he said that it might either be the wiring from the ignition coil to the ecu, or the ecu itself, and that I should take it to Ford to investigate.

However, when I started it up next morning the light didnt come on, and the car ran ok for weeks.

About 3 weeks later, the engine warning light came on for a short while, and I thought I could feel the pulling again once or twice, and when I took it back to the garage, he put his machine on again, and the same codes came up, and couldnt get them to disappear.

Anyway, after that car seemed fine again, and so carried on driving it.

In all this time, car hadnt cut out either, or felt like it was going to.

Friday 7th February 2014

On my way to work in the morning, was sitting in traffic queue, with engine idling, when car just cut out. Went to start it up, but wouldnt start. Kept trying, until battery appeared to be dying, and called RAC.

RAC man came, connected leads to battery, and it started straight away he said it might have been solely down to the damp conditions (road had very large puddles due to heavy rain for days).

Anyway, got to work (1/2 hour), and when I drove home that evening, had driven for ½ hour again, when the engine cut out again, this time when travelling at about 20-25mph, as slowing down for vehicle in front to turn left into side road.

Again, couldnt start it and had to call RAC again.

This time, leads would not start it straight away, and it only started when he had a jiggle of the wires around the ignition coil (I think). Anyway, prior to this he had run his diagnostics machine, and it had come up with same codes as above plus another couple of random ones (P1260 Theft Detected, and V0121 ABS operation).

He suggested it could be something to do with ECU or wiring loom, and even though it was about 10.30pm, he kindly followed me to a local RAC approved garage (Barclay Autos in Hayes), who he said were good with this sort of thing.

Anyway we left in in their forecourt, but as it was running fine whilst they had it, they could not find the fault, and said I had to just keep driving it for now, until the problem returned, as they did not want to start replacing things on the off-chance (could turn out to be expensive guesswork).


They did solder a wire that had appeared to have been cut at some stage, but didnt think that this was definitely the problem, and I asked them to test the battery, which they said was on its last legs hadnt changed it in over 8 years (£75,000 miles). They therefore fitted a new one for me.

I drove the car home on Wednesday 12th February, and everything was fine until the following Saturday.

Saturday 15th February 2014

Was driving my son to a go kart party, and was doing 50mph on the M25 when all of a sudden I lost power, and had to get over to the hard shoulder, by which time all the usual dashboard lights had come on and car had cut out.

As expected it wouldnt start, but as I was desperate not to let my son down, I lifted the bonnet, and jiggled the wires (any I could see), just as the RAC man had done that time.

Didnt expect it to, but car then started straight up, and I was able to get going . I drove carefully to the destination, and then carefully home again (avoiding the motorway, and not exceeding 30mph). I rang the main guy at Barclay Autos, and he said he might know what the problem was (wire in coil multi-plug) and the earliest I could book it in was Wednesday morning. I didnt drive it again (but merely started it each morning until then), and on the Wednesday morning drove it into the forecourt.

Unfortunately, the guy had a look, and said that it wasnt what he had suspected, and that yet again there was not a lot that they could do until it broke down again.

They did say the codes had been removed, and so hopefully fresh codes would come up if anything happened again.

Wednesday 19th February 2014

Got the car to work that morning, and back home again but when I popped out again for some essentials, I had it on full lock (doing a u-turn) and it cut out again.

At first it just wouldnt start, but all of a sudden it did (after another random jiggle of anything that moved under the bonnet (although not first time)), and I thought I would at least get it home.

However, about 200 yards from home, on my own road, doing about 20mph, it just cut out again!

Anyway, I rang the RAC and asked if they could tow it back to Barclay Autos the next day, rather than send out a patrol man to get it started, because I figured that if it went in actually not working it might help them diagnose the fault.

I rang the garage next day, and they said the earliest I could tow it in would be Friday, and so I arranged that with the RAC, who kindly co-operated.

Friday 21st February 2014

The car was towed in, and Barclay Autos said they would be able to start looking at it over the next 2-3 days.

Anyway, on the following Thursday I rang in for an update, as I hadnt heard anything, but knew they had been busy, and got the feedback that very frustratingly although it was still not starting as soon as it had been delivered, as soon as they wheeled it into the work station, it started straight away!!!

They said they would take it out for a drive to see if they could catch it broken down again, and I left it with them until Monday.

All this time, apart from the cutting out, there had been no further signs of the engine warning light, or pulling during driving.

Monday 3rd March 2014

Receptionist said they had taken it for a drive on Friday, but nothing occurred and so they were going to have another go today.

Tuesday 4th March 2014

Sent this info to ECU doctor in Plymouth, and they felt that it would not be an ECU problem, and in fairness said it was unlikely to be worth me sending the ECU to them.

Any guidance much appreciated,


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well if im honest you should have taken it to ford at the start these things dont just go away from what youve said its difficult to diagnose it could be an ignition issue a key transponder issue the coil and wiring issue a vehicle speed sensor issue the list really is endless which is why it should go to a ford dealer who can monitor the live data

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Thanks, I am a complete novice about cars, and was under the impression that the RAC approved garage would be able to diagnose with as much chance of Ford.

Do you think Ford could still sort it, even though the engine management light is not on any longer, and there appear to be no current diagnostic codes.

I would gladly pay their initial diagnostics fees, but when you say 'live data' is this something that they would have a better chance of capturing then the garage I have already used?

Once again I appreciate the feedback if any available.

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Rac is okay but they deal with any car ford deal with ford so they can look into things other garages dont when the car stalls does the speed and rpm suddenly drop to nothing if so it could just be the vehicle speed sensor this will be intermittent to start with

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Yes, when it has cut out recently at low or standing speed, I think the rev needle just drops (not sure about the speedo), but when it lost power on the motorway at 50mph, it initially just got stuck at that speed, and cut out as I pulled into the layby.

Would the vehicle speed sensor cause it to stall, a not be able to start again?

Anyway, I am due to get it back from the garage tomorrow if they still haven't found anything, and will book it into Dagenham Motors, Alperton, where I bought it from 8 years ago.

Thanks again.

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tbh, anybody with half decent diagnostic equipment can view live data, fords aren't that complicated , especially petrol versions.

im interested in the 'wriggling'

common problems with breaks in the loom and poor connections in the coil loom connector...and the codes you are getting are often the ones that flag...both codes are indicating short to earth in the primary circuits

the speed sensor can give similar symptoms, as well as loom problems as it attatches to the sensor

crank sensor, connections and loom too.

not convinced either by the ecu not being a possible cause..seen it before, admittedly on earlier models, but think dismissing this would be a mistake if nothing else is showing up.

again, on earlier models...there were problems with the head temp sensor interfering with the ht leads, causing similar issues to yours...not sure if it was still a problem on later models, but easy enough to re route head sensor wiring away from ht, just to eliminate it.

intermittent faults will always be the hardest to trace, but often find anyone with an oscilloscope (proper one, rather than those found in scanners) will be able to detect tiny variations in voltages etc, so often pick up faults way before engine runs into problems..this fault is an ideal candidate to be wired up to one by someone that knows how to use/read it.

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Thanks Guys,

Wase16ll - seems like my best bet is to take it to a main Ford dealer I suppose, and they may check some of the things you say

Mick 85 - I don't know what Mk mine is, all I know it is a 55 plate. When I had the initial coil fault (i.e, prior to most recent one being fitted) I was able to start engine immediately it cut out. Now, as you say, it just makes a noise as if trying to start but nothing happens until battery drains (until I got a new battery a few weeks ago).

Sorry, I'm not much help with my own problem, and I appreciate all your efforts.

I think at this stage I just want to try and sell it, but can't do so without fixing the problem so am in catch 22!

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honest opinion

ford dealers are a gamble (as most dealers are)...all depends if you get a decent mechanic on it...

about 40% of new customers i get, have gone through dealers (including Ford Alperton) get charged a shedload AND fail to cure the faults..more often than not, i'm astounded how they miss some of the faults i see, put a lot of it down to over reliability on fault codes.

often find with diagnostics, most have basic training, with maybe an area 'fully trained' tech running around between dealers..

so although Ford Alperton may very well find/sort your problem...they are not your only option..plenty of specialist diagnostic garages around that area..

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Wase16ll, are you a mechanic then (i.e. you mention customers?), in that would you potentially be able to diagnose the fault if I brought the car to you? If not yourself, which garages specialise in diagnostics in the A40 corridor. I thought Barclays Autos were specialists, and certainly aren't running them down, as their main guy is perplexed by the whole thing.

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i am, and would normally be happy to help.. but im absolutely flat out and have a large backlog, plus would prefer having the right machine with me for a job like this and that is currently being repaired/serviced and updated so doubt i'll see it for at least another 2 weeks.

id be loathed to recommend anyone as dont know the garages personally, i only use specialists as an absolute last resort if my gear isnt up to locating a fault..which is very rare, plus when i do go, its clear i know what im talking about so they dont try any bull****

would like to make clear, im not suggesting Alperton wont be able to sort this issue, im just saying that Ford aren't your only option

dont know barclays, though i know of them..if that makes sense

not sure how well equiped they are, which is why i would be looking for a diagnostic specialist rather than an all round garage...plenty of good quality scanner equipment out there that will find and cure 90% of faults, but occasionly you will come across that tricky one thats out of the norm, this is where the spcialist with the extra equipment comes in...but like everything in life, equipment is only as good as the user..

try a search for something like a Bosch service centre..should be a few near you, give them a full rundown and ask if they are fully equpped to trace the fault (lot of garages say they are, but then sub it out)

sorry cant help, but unless an 8th day gets introduced to a normal week, id struggle to fit you in, in reasonable time

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No, thanks all the same - appreciate your candour. I'll give one of those Bosch centres a call perhaps. As I say, i just want to get it in a position to be able to sell it unbroken (unless 100% confident in diagnosis and repair, in which case I would keep it), as I need a reliable car, and can't take a chance that it breaks down again.

Any idea how orwhere I would sell it as it is, for the best price (assuming i can drive it there), and being upfront with the issues. I know this sounds really naive, but I couldn't sell it without making the buyer aware that there were intermittent problems, but wondering where they might be able to offer a fair price for something that isn't a write off!

Thanks again Tony.

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not knowing whats actually been tested up to now, if anything...so if the usual suspects for a fault like this have failed to show anything then it might pay to fit a data logger...which i maybe able to help you out with.

a data logger is, in a nutshell, a data recorder...so constantly records as you drive..easily fitted to the obd socket...ideal tool for intermittent faults

at the moment, i only have one DL, which is currently fitted waiting for a specific fault to occur, but maybe able to get hold of a spare one by next week..

if your interested, can arrange to meet if i get one and fit it to the car..you then go off on your merry way and wait for the fault to happen...

will explain what you need to do when i fit it.

you can then send me the DL back, so i can download and review the data..all i need to find is the point that faults occured, which in turn will help to pinpoint the area that is causing the issue..which in turn will make it a lot easier to find the problem as hopefully a particular sensor/circuit will show itself.

no guarantee this will work, as its possible the fault lies outside the data recordings, but its helped me pin trouble spots a few times, well worth a try.

will try and pick up a spare one anyway (as my one has been fitted to a honda for 5weeks, still waiting for fault to show) so just let me know if your interested.

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Hi Tony,

Yes, will potentially be very interested.

I am due to call Barclay Autos this afternoon, as they said they would give it a drive at some stage over the last couple of days in case the fault comes up again while they have it.

If nothing has been found, I will need to collect the car either tomorrow or Monday, and then it would make sense to at least try this.

I will conatct you either this weekend or early next week, and let you know the latest.

Thanks for the help so far.


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no problem..

please take no offence, but as i dont know you, will need a fully refundable deposit to cover cost of the tool at time of fitting....normally works out around the £60/80 area, depending where i can locate one...

as i said, im happy to get another anyway so no obligation on your part once i do...be better all round if fault gets sorted before we have a chance to fit it.

just let me know on here if you need it...spend hours on the computer in the evenings with work related stuff, so forever popping in/out the site just to take a break from what im dealing with.

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No worries Tony, of course I have no problem with a deposit on your equipment, and whatever your own expenses are etc.

Anyway, let's see what the garage say (just in case they have found something), and I will let you know.



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Hi Tony, just sent you a PM.

Am collecting car this weekend, as Barclay drove it for 45 mins yesterday and nothing happened. They said there is not much more they can do



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When it cuts out at low speed (i.e. when doing less than 15-20mph) then the lights all come on straight away, but the one time it lost power (seemed to get stuck initially) at 50mph I don't remember the lights coming on until it slowed right down in the hard shoulder (if that makes sense and memory serves),

It drove home ok from the garage on Saturday, and I took it for a wash today with no issues, and so I am just waiting for the next time!

Thanks Lee but I don't know if my answer helps?

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