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Twitchy acceleration - 1.6 Ti-VCT


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Hi guys, I've just recently bought an 06 Focus Zetec with 83k on the clock. Over the few weeks i've been driving, I've noticed that when accelerating, it can bit a bit twitchy and jumpy, as if someone behind me is 'tapping' me forward, just a tiny, barely noticable nudge, every other second or so. It's seems to be more noticeable in 1st and second gear, under 2.5k revs and when going up hill (it makes sense that these would be the most noticeable conditions, physics inertia etc..).

 So, what I'm trying to do for the first time in 4 years as a car owner, is to learn how to take car of my car myself, rather than shelling out money for someone else to do things which after a bit of research often turns out to be quite simple (oil change?). I've been watching ChrisFIx (youtube) and have put together a list of things to learn/do to maintain my car and diagnose/fix this problem. I should point out, I took the car to my 'guy' and he says that a bit of twitching is normal,something about it being a small engine (hhmmm?).



1 - Spark plugs (check condition and measure gaps)

2- Clean mass air flow sensor

3- Check air/fuel ratio sensor

4-Check injectors (test resistance with DMM and listen with screwdriver for tap pulse)

5-Test alternator + battery with DMM (maybe not relative for my issue? But why not..)

6- Flush and replace oil, coolant, clutch+brake, and P-steering fluids 


Can anyone suggest any other things to check that might diagnose the problem?

Is it worth buying a cheap borascope/endoscope to check my valves?

Also I noticed the guy on Youtube using both a mobile app+BT dongle to run diagnostics, but he also uses some purpose-made device that gave code readings. I noticed there is an app on android store called Torque pro that claims to read OBD codes, has anyone used an app like this? Would they recommend getting one?


If you've read all this I really appreciate it, hopefully one day I'll be able to help people as well as ask questions.


Thanks guys!



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This engine is lovely but you've got to be kind to her in respect to oil changes. I've done mine every 5-8000 miles DIY. What's the service history like?

The vct system can need renewing as mine did at 100k (search around the forum) and that's a £800 bill. When it sounds like a ticking diesel at idle that's a sign of things to come. 

I've experienced that before with this engine and I found it went after changing HT leads, ignition coil (Bosch coil and oem leads though, don't skimp on these) , oil, filters, plugs it became much better, if not perfect. I have a road near me which is slightly hilly and often I'll be in slow traffic there and have experienced what you described. 

There are many more experienced people on this forum then me but this is my advice.

Go through the receipts and service history and see how well it has been looked after. You're at timing belt and water pump changing time.

Any chance it's misfiring? Flat spots around 1500-2500 rpm? Check the spark plugs. Any water in the wells? Leaks from the washer jets. Maybe change coil pack and leads if they are orgional to the car. As I said oil CHANGES important on this engine! Change the air filter. A good service if it hasn't had one already basically.

i wouldn't worry about all that testing stuff unless you have the kit or you're convinced it's worth it. The basics are more important first.

This was my first car and one as a total noob I've done the basics on. Oil, plugs, filters, fluid changes, brake pads/discs/rear drums. Also known well, learnt the hard way once, when to give up and leave it to a pro.

i would recommend you get an elm diagnostic usb cable or Bluetooth as at some point you'll need it and they are cheap cheap. (Search the forum, loads of info on what to get and what software to use).

I'll try and help more if I can.


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Hi pky,

The car does have a full service history (last service at 80k), 8 months MOT left, car looks immaculate and appears to have been well looked after. Although the service record makes no mention of what work had been done, just a book with ink stamps in it. Looking under the bonnet we could see that it had a new distributor cap and ht leads, maybe this was the previous owners attempt at trying to fix the issue im having? We also noticed the cam belt casing/cover was new, maybe it has been done recently, I'm gonna take it to a garage to see about a cam-belt change though. One thing I forgot to mention. The guy who sold it said it had been sitting for a while, and the petrol tank was almost empty too. Could the problem be fuel related, maybe a dirty fuel filter or a blockage somewhere?

Regarding what you said about renewing the VCT system. My car indeed does sound ticky at idle, I was worried about this before, but after listening to youtube videos of the engine, it sounded the same as mine. My mechanic guy also said that it is normal for this engine to sound like that, he started up a Fiesta and that sounded the same. But then he's the same guy who told me the jerking was normal. I've not come across anything in my research about the VCT needing renewing either, I cant see a mention of it in the sticky thread. So, if what you say is true, then I'm a bit alarmed to put it mildly. The thing is im worried that if I go to a garage and ask, they'll probably just recommend everything under the sun, and it might not fix anything. I hear/read a lot about people spending small fortunes on their car, and it doesn't fix thier issue. 


I think my plan of action is to try and fix the jerking issue myself as much as I can, maybe get my mechanic friend to help go through my checklist of things to do.

And in the mean time try to find a 'proper' garage mechanic, who I feel isnt gonna BS me. My friend has suggested someone, so I can try him first.

Thanks for the info pky, as painful as it was to read.




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Didn't mean to stress you out when mentioning the vct fault. Please don't worry about it. This engine is ticky but if your vct is truly borked it sounds like an old tractor and you'll get the engine warning light with a code like in this thread 


Don't worry though! It hasn't happened, might not and only worry about it if it does. I think they improved the parts anyway. My build date was I think in the first production run. (Basing this on the fact some of my parts I've replaced recently changed after 03/05).

Since you've got a full service history that you trust  you know at least it's been looked after hopefully. I'd want to know off the previous owner for sure if the cam belt and water pump has been done or not though that's for sure. 8 years or 100,000 is the interval. I'm betting it's been done though.

http://www.fordownersclub.com/forums/profile/8800-artscot79/ is very knowledgeable about these engines so PM him or hopefully he'll pick up this thread and reply in the thread as I've found his posts over the last few years very helpful.

Does your coolant temp gauge stay around the middle regardless of traffic conditions? Like a fool I forgot to mention that when my thermostat borked and the engine was over cooling it did emphasise what you have been describing.

Does wet/damp/cold/warmer weather make a difference? Like I said before have you pulled off the HT leads and looked in the plug wells to make sure there's no water from leaking water jets.

Maybe when you're empty next put in some Shell premium or normal and give it a blast and see if it's any better. I never gave a rub about where I got fuel before but when I used Morrisons if felt more lumpy but on Shell premium and their normal one it definitely felt smoother in traffic. Now regardless again whereever I fill up it now feels fine. 

Dont stress it too much though enjoy your life :-)

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Hi pky, thanks again for your help.


I checked the service book, and all the services have been done by the same garage except the most recent one, which was done by the dealership I got it from. Gonna have to ask him what was done (oil change etc)


My temp gauge gets up to just under half way and stays put.


I dont know if weather makes a difference, the weather had been pretty consistently good since I got the car.


I'll try some better fuel, we normally just get it at asda.


Just a few more Q's pky.


Checking the coils for water, do i have to pull out the coils and check in and around the tops of the spark plugs, or is it somewhere else i need to look? 

Also I have a digital multi-meter, any checks I can do on the coils/leads with that?

Edit - Bought this;



Comes Wednesday, fingers crossed.


I'm sure I had something else to say, but my brain is starting to struggle.


Thanks again!

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Yep, twist pull the lead off the top of each spark plug and look in the wells for water or signs of water been previously there. 

Coil pack testing is beyond me im afraid. I replaced mine and leads just as a matter of course as I knew at least the coil was probably orgional to the car. 

Yep Elm327 cable. Forscan is free. If you want to get into modifying stuff on your car buy a modified elm327 cable. If you have a smart phone you could get a bluetooth one and use the torque app. I cannot recommend which you should get as I got mine years ago so don't know who you should buy from. I'm not interested in modifying either so I'm no use to you on that front.

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My car (a 2006 model) is very much the same. Pulls fine, but is rather lumpy/jerky around town. It came with a 3 month warranty, so it went back in for testing. There is just nothing 'wrong' physically with the car, no air leaks, coil and leads are new, plugs are new and the VCT system works OK. No fault codes and all reading from the sensors seem reasonable.

However using Forscan i can see that the PCM software is from 07/2004, the earliest version I can see a reference for, so the last resort really is a PCM update. Quoted £100 for it, but if it fixes the problem its worth it. IF it fixes the problem.

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Mmmm, that's interesting Chris, that was something I thought about today. 

According to this website http://www.mlmdiagnostics.com/How_to_tell_when_to_update_a_software.htm  


So how do you know when a vehicle needs a software update?  First step is to access your service information and look for Technical Service bulletins (TSB’s) which apply to the concern.  The criteria can be codes set or drivability concerns.  For most vehicle lines, if there is no TSB, there is no update available.  A couple manufacturers, such as General Motors will often have software updates with no TSBs.  Ford and Chrysler will have a TSB relating to any software updates.

After checking TSBs, next step is to determine the current vehicle calibration.  Use a scan tool to access the calibration into for the vehicle.  Most aftermarket scan tools will do this.  Last step is to access the manufacturer’s websites.  This article will only cover Ford, GM and Chrysler calibrations; however Asian and European vehicle calibrations are similar.

To access Ford calibration info, one must go to 
www.motorcraftservice.com .  Once there, on the lower left is a link for “Reprogramming and Initialization”, see Figure 1.

Once in the reprogramming section, select “Latest Calibration Information”.  From there you can download a calibrations list or select a specific vehicle.  The list has them by model and year.  This example will show the web based form.  Figure 2 shows the page which shows the latest calibrations for a 2005 Focus.  If the calibrations in the vehicle are different, than the vehicle has an updated calibration available.  If it applies to a TSB, then the update should be performed.


Does this make any sense to you? I don't know how/what accessing my service info is. Does this mean we can check specific updates for specific faults? Or is it still just a shot in the dark, as you said?



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the lurch or surge can be down to plug gaps they should be 1.0mm not the 1.3 that they come pregapped at also some dielectric grease on both ends of the lead helps .pcm updates as always are available from ford ford etis doesn't give that info for our year of car I've never had one I did on the mk1 and itvdid sort out a few glitches .tge engine at idle does tick the new ones do too but they have way more sound deadening to hide it as said if its a vct issue you're know for one you wouldn't get past 4k revs without the car going into limp mode .if you have a Tesco try some 99 Ron fuel in it the car does like some decent fuel it is supposed to run on premium premium plus which in the day was 98 Ron its set up to run on lower Ron but seems happier and smoother on the better stuff

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I learned the hard way i bought mine not knowing it was a ti vct or what ti vct was then had the cam issue within a week I was fortunate that the dealers paid for it all but it was a steep learning curve

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The car did come with three months warranty, but reading it, it seems to only cover premature failure of components rather than any 'wear and tear' which is deemed normal for the components age/mileage etc. Can I take the car back for a refund, or make the guy get it fixed, do I have any legal leverage at all? It was from a S/H car dealer.


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Try NGK iridium plugs LTR5IX-11 , these helped my car a bit. The gap is a little bigger (1.1mm), so should help smoothness without over stressing the coil as the original Ford spec of 1.3mm did.

As far as a PCM update is concerned you CAN do it yourself, but finding the right update is tricky. For my PCM there isnt one, but im not too sure exactly what files you can flash. My PCM code is 7M51-12A650-KA, but there is one for  -KC and im not sure if I can use that one.

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50 minutes ago, Adey1981 said:

Guys, my OBD2 scanner arrived to day and it gave me error code P000A (drive train). Wtf, I'm really freaking out now guys, what do I do?


Is the engine light on then?


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===DTC P000A-E1===
Code: P000A - Intake (A) Camshaft Position Slow Response Bank 1

Additional Fault Symptom:
 - Signal is Above Maximum Threshold

 - DTC Present at Time of Request
 - Malfunction Indicator Lamp is On for this DTC

Module: Powertrain Control Module

Diagnostic Trouble Code details

Intake (A) Camshaft Position Slow Response Bank 1

This DTC may be caused by :

Unserviceable intake camshaft OCV

Renew the intake camshaft OCV.

After renewing a camshaft OCV clear the DTC and perform the relevant VCT test to make sure that the fault is fixed.

Incorrect camshaft timing

Suspect intake VCT element

If this DTC is present the VCT operation will be disabled.

===END DTC P000A-E1===

This was the my VCT error code when I bought mine 100,000 miles ago (my car was cheap because of this fault).

If the code is current then the engine light should be on as far as I know. 

It could be an old code that's never been cleared after repair if the engine light is not on. I'm not sure about that though.

You could clear the DTC's and see if it comes back or you might not want to clear it yet so you can show the dealer. Could take a screenshot i guess. 

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That's a good point Pky, the engine light is not on. I spoke to my mechanic friend and he said to take it back to the dealer to get it fixed, but to not tell him that I've scanned the car with an OBD reader (not sure why he said that). 

 So I rang the dealer, and explained the problems with the car and he said to me that I can take it to the garage that uses, and that if they cant fix the problem (or they fix it, and then problem returns) It will go to Ford to get fixed. He assured me that he would cover the cost of any work that needs doing to fix the problem. So it seems like the guy is gonna play ball and not be awkward about it.


I'm gonna take the car in tomorrow, I'll keep you guys updated if that's ok? Just so I know I'm not getting fobbed off.


Many thanks to you all guys, it's very much appreciated.



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Just for my piece of mind does the engine warning light actually light up then off when you turn over the car?

As Arthur said earlier you need to be able to show something is actually at fault though to get anywhere. Don't take no for an answer or be fobbed off though. 

Don't worry your life away on this sh!te when you've got a wedding to worry about in 9 days! Lambs to the slaughter!

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I just tested it a few times, and no, it doesn't come on at all. So something is definitely wrong then?

Looks like I might be getting a renewed engine for free. Win? (as the kids say) lol


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20 minutes ago, Adey1981 said:

I just tested it a few times, and no, it doesn't come on at all. So something is definitely wrong then?

Looks like I might be getting a renewed engine for free. Win? (as the kids say) lol


Wow, so you're confirming the engine management light doesn't light up at all?

Try the Diagnostic mode to see if it lights up at all?!


If it's not lighting up at all, I would wonder if it's been tampered with or just a coincidence it doesn't work!


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I noticed when checking the MOT history online, it showed that the car failed in 2013 due to "EML".  So maybe the light was 'bypassed' to get it through it's MOT?

Something else to note, when I bought the car and got the documents, I noticed that the previous owner (before the dealer) bought the car in January this year.

So she had the car for 1-2 months and then got rid. 

This is all starting fit together isnt it? Oh dear. I'm gonna mention all this to the garage, hopefully they will piece it together and do what the car really needs, at least I wont be paying for it.

Starting to wish I'd kept my 2000 Xsara.....maybe.

Cheers guys!

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