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Olliejeffers

Ford Focus MK2 white smoke

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Hi all, just after a little bit of advice with my 1.8 petrol 2007 MK2 Focus.

A bit of history, It had an issue with the fuel pump a while ago which has recently been sorted, basically it was flooding the engine all the time and the car wouldn't start because of it. I was told the catalytic converter would need to be replaced as the massive amounts of fuel being pushed into it will have ruined it. So it's been driving OK with no issues (apart from the fuel meter telling me I had fuel when it didn't, that wasn't fun!) but I'm getting two symptoms that my car still isn't very happy.

The first issue is it's puffing out loads of white smoke. It spews out the smoke when idling and when driving, but it isn't a constant thing. Driving home from work (about 4 miles from home) I didn't get smoke in the car park at all, but when I was on the road I noticed that all I could see of the car behind me was it's headlights! It wasn't good as I was creating a smoke screen James Bond would be proud to have on his car! The second issue is the smell! That smoke smells incredibly rich! It will stink out places easily with fumes that smell heavily of fuel.

So my question is would the catalytic converter needing to be replaced contribute to both of these problems? The engine also smells heavily of oil, but it's been like that since the garage that last serviced the car decided not to put the oil cap back on! I've checked both the oil and coolant as I've read it can be an indication of head gasket failure. The oil looks OK but needs to be changed as it's lovely and black as it's not had an oil change for a while and my coolant levels are also fine.

I'm trying to get what advice I can as the car has only done 56k miles! Thanks in advance. :)

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White smoke is usually steam, so there could be water getting in somewhere, check for sludge around the oil filler cap, and the coolant levels.

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23 hours ago, Guzzilazz said:

I'm surprised no one's mentioned head gasket yet....

We like to keep the bad news low key. But you may be right.

I would do the checks Jon84 stated.

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23 hours ago, Guzzilazz said:

I'm surprised no one's mentioned head gasket yet....

That's what my checks are eluding to :) You can't check the gasket yourself without taking the head off! If the HG is gone and there is steam/white smoke then there should be sludge around the oil filler, lower coolant level and potentially air in the coolant system making a gushing noise.

19 minutes ago, nazsky786 said:

We like to keep the bad news low key. But you may be right.

I would do the checks Jon84 stated.

:thumbsup: Keep the bad news for the result of the checks!!

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Thanks guys. There's no sludge around the oil filter cap. There's what looks like white grease splodged about the place which I can only assume was the result of the many places that had a look at the engine when it wasn't working! Here's a pic of what I'm faced with when the car's given any kind of acceleration:

 

20170314_224648_zpsp7e1js5u.jpg

 

I've spoken to another garage and they've said it could be because the cat is gone. I'm no mechanic really so checking a lot of stuff gets left to people with experience!

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One quick check for head gasket is whether the coolant smells of combustion, check when cold obviously...

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1 hour ago, Guzzilazz said:

One quick check for head gasket is whether the coolant smells of combustion, check when cold obviously...

That would indicate that oil was escaping into the coolant. Also look for a film of oil on the header tank

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Going back to the first post I can't quite see how a fuel pump issue would cause flooding and prevent the car from starting. That sounds to me like a bit of blagging on the part of the garage but I'm willing to be corrected. Also I don't believe failure or contamination of the CAT could produce the smoke you're seeing.

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As I say, I'm not really a mechanic so I can only go by what the garage said. From what was happening it kind of made sense. The initial issue was that the car would turn over but not start. It would almost fire up but never got there. When the RAC was called out in the first instance he said that the engine had flooded and he did manage to get it started, but once I took it to a garage for another fix it was completely dead and we couldn't get it to start at all. The issue was fixed with a new fuel pump and they said that it was putting in too much fuel which was not letting it start.

If there's any other pictures or anything I can for people let me know. I double checked the oil as well and it's the same as it's always been. I'll check the coolant and see if it smells of anything other than coolant as well.

Thanks again for the help! :)

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3 hours ago, Olliejeffers said:

they said that it was putting in too much fuel which was not letting it start

That's what was bothering me. The pump pressurises the fuel rail and a pressure relief valve returns excess fuel to the tank so I don't see how the pump could possibly "put in too much fuel" unless it was putting in so much that the relief valve couldn't cope, which seems highly unlikely.

The engine could, in theory, flood if it was turning over but not firing as fuel would keep being injected. It could also flood if too much fuel was being injected because the relief valve was defective causing the fuel rail pressure to be too high but in that case I'd expect it to flag up a DTC. Neither of those situations would involve the fuel pump, though.

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Yea, it is pretty odd. The only errors coming up at the moment relate to the catalytic converter being faulty. I've checked the onboard diagnostics and it's not getting any DTC codes on there at all, but the computer the garage plugged it into pointed it towards the cat failing.

As you say they could be blagging it, however they did get the car to start reliably so it didn't bother me at the time really. It's just the current ongoing issues that are causing me grief!

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I checked the coolant last night. It smells normal, no combustion type smells in there at all.

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Does the smoke smell of fuel or does it smel of oil? If it's fuel then it's running rich.

The reason the cat is coming up on diagnostic is because clearly, it's out of parameter due to whatever is being pushed through it lol

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Agree with Stef. Since you said the smoke smells heavily of fuel it sound like it's overfuelling. There are several potential causes for that but, as I said earlier, I would have expected most of them to flag a DTC.

Any competent garage should be easily able to pin down the cause.

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I'll run through the diagnostics again tonight and see if it comes up with any DTC errors. It's definitely a very fuel rich smell in that smoke. The garage that I'm currently using was the only place out of 3 other garages that were able to actually get the car running so they seem to know what they're doing, but I'll see if there's anywhere else that's able to have a look.

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OK so I've checked the DTC codes again, still absolutely nothing showing. The engine management light is on still which was showing as a catalytic converter problem on another diagnostic machine.

Also just to clarify, the engine itself runs fine. No misfires or weird noises, it idles OK without stuttering and starts up normally. Also when it was running it wasn't overheating or doing anything out of the ordinary.

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Had a Saab 9000 years back, and it blew a head gasket at about 70k, no performance impact, but clouds of white smoke.  Head gasket can result in combustion/coolant, combustion/oil and coolant/oil mixing... Hope it isn't in your case, but the cat code is showing some sort of pollution in the cat...

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I've been doing a bit more reading on this as the only symptom it has at the moment is the smoke, others have said that it could be problems with the fuel injector seals or the injectors themselves not being able to close properly and injecting more fuel than it needs. I'm just trying to find a good time to get it over to a garage for another check to see if they can see if the injectors have issues.

I'm just trying to remain positive and pray it's not the head gasket!

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Hi Ollie,

Any updates on your white smoking Focus? I'm having the same problem with my 1.8 Duratec HE .. 

The engines spark plugs appear oiled and can understand the white smoke problem. 

I've been told that oil changes need to be regular on these engines and if underserviced can play all kinds of havoc! 

Giving mine and clean down the spark plug channels with fresh oil change and filter tomorrow. 

Also going to check my PCV valve which is underneath the inlet manifold. Tedious job for sure but also worth a try replacing the PCV valve. Two years have passed and still wonder how your focus white smoke was resolved or not. 

Last case scenario going to also do the Valve stem seals then go from their. 

 

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