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1.6 Zetec Poor Starting


keat63
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My son in law just passed his test and bought a 2005 focus 1.6 zetec.

The car looks great with full service history, drives nice and appears well maintained, only it has a starting issue.

When it's running, it runs sweet, no loss of power, ticks over nice and quiet.

Getting it started is the issue.

It just cranks and cranks and cranks, with the occasional hiccup (as if one cylinder fired), then back to cranking and cranking.

The battery is strong, as I was cranking it for ages last night.

Then when one of the cyliders fires again, off it will go and run as sweet as.

I really can't fault the battery.

 

I've a crank sensor on its way, as a starting point.

I also have diags on an old laptop, any other pointers to where I should be looking ?

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Hi 

 

have you made sure that the plugs are clean and gapped correctly? also that the ignition leads are all secure? Does this only happen on a cold start up? And if its been driving 100% warmed up when you stop it does it start ok again or do you get this issue?

 

 

 

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I've only seen it do this when it's warmed up, but i've been told that it did it this morning from cold.

It took him about 10 minutes to get it started.

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9 hours ago, keat63 said:

I've only seen it do this when it's warmed up, but i've been told that it did it this morning from cold.

It took him about 10 minutes to get it started.

Has the fuel pressure been checked as it sound like maybe the fuel pump could be low pressure or maybe the gauze could be clogged a little. Stick some redex in the system regulary for a while and also before starting the car turn the ignition on (dont start the car) until you hear the fuel pump prime itself. then turn it of and repeat this again. On the 3rd attempt after the fuel pump prime sound turn the key all the way and see if it starts up straight away.

I have seen this issue in the 1.6 zetec petrol  engine before and a good few runs with clean fuel with redex or the likes added and the iginiotion system is is good shape as well as the plugs seemed to help and cure bad starting so we put it down to just letting the car run too low on fuel too many times that it maybe took dirt up to the fuel pump which in theory reduces the fuel pressure so can cause the car not to start on the first turn. 

 

It might be worth a try anyway.

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I already considered the pump priming and tried this but that made no difference.

 

However, a bit of a turn of events.

He brought the car down for me to swap the crank sensor last night, which incidentally made no difference.

But now i'd the opportunity to start with the basics. Lets check the plugs and spark strength.

I pulled out the plug lead for No1 plug to find that the spark plug was swimming in oil.

Removed all the others to find exactly the same.

I'm not talking about a bit of oil, I mean swimming in the stuff. I couldn't see the plug tops for oil.

I removed the rocker cover to gain better access and cleaned out all the oil. I cleaned the plug tops and HT leads with contact cleaner.

Applied some sealant on the rocker gasket and reassembled.

 

I was confident that this was the issue, but alas not, still the same.

So he's ordered a new gasket and new spark plugs for this evening, but now I'm not confident that this is the issue.

 

 

The way it starts or doesn't is bizzare

Get it going and it runs great, there's absolutely no indication of anything being wrong.

Turn it off, wait 30 seconds and it will start on the first turn of the key.

Turn it off and wait 5 minutes and it will take 10 minutes to start.

 

I put a can of injector cleaner in it and also suggested he fills it with super unleaded to see if this makes even the slighgtest of differences.

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Here's an odd one.

Last night we noticed the collant level looked low, obviously nothing to do with why it wouldn't start.

I removed the cap for an almight whoosh, the release in pressure filled the expansion tank from minimum to max.

Bizarrly the car started.

 

Whilst I dismissed it as coincidence, he's just called to say that he spent 10 minutes this morning trying to get it started, as a last ditched attempt he released the pressure in the expansion tank and it started....

 

??????

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I know this makes no sense, but he just called to say it did it again, but as soon as he released the expansion tank pressure it started.

This is bonkers.

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Thats a strange one alright.

The oil in the plugs would not of helped but make sure that the oil level is up where it should be as low oil pressure can cause the car to constantly turn over as far as I know.

 

The expansion tank pressure is a new one to me , I dont think it could have any thing dorectly linked to the car not starting but make sure the is no leaks and no air in the coolant system and also that the thermostat is working as should be. 

 

Another long shot to check is the immobilisor and the key make sure the key is not damaged or the likes even of you have a spare one try it out for a bit as it could the immobilisor could be picking it up ok one minute and not the next.

an important area I would say to make sure 100% is working is the battery. Now i know its sounds basic but the ford system has to use the silver calcium type battery. I only came across an starting issue like this once before in a fiesta when the battery was tested 100% and was holding charge ect but the electrical system was playing up with all different types and signs of errors. After a battery swap to test/elminate that being the issue it actually solved the issue completely, the battery was the correct type and seemd to be holding charge but it must of been playing up under load so a new batteyr solved it.

 

It may be worth a check. and also to clean all terminals ect just to be on the safe side.

 

 

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The battery is solid. I spent 10 minutes or more trying to get it going last night, not even the slightest hint of the battery faltering or getting lazy.

As the engine is cranking, it will sort of fire on 1 cylinder, but just when you think it's going and you stop cranking, then engine fails to start.

Alternatvely, keep it cranking and you get nothing, it will just crank while ever you have the key engaged.

Stop and try again, and back to square one, where it will almost start and then fail.

 

The all of a sudden it will start and run brilliantly.

 

The coolant thing is purplexing me at the minute, as he's adamant by releasing the pressure it will start. I'm not convinced.

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Im not convinced myself that the collant pressure thing is the source fo the starting issue. I take it there is no overheating problems with the car?

 

Are the plugs on good conditrion and gapped correctly? I think ots 1.3mm from top of my head. also when you removed the do they look Normal at the ends or are they oily or wet or anything?

 

its a strange issue alright but its sound like something minor as I would of thought if it was a major issue the car would not run great when it does start. is there any error codes coming up or anything and when you tryed the new crank sensor did you reset all codes?

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I was sceptical about the water pressure thing as it made no logical sense, so when he came down last night, this was the first thing i checked.

I was right, it was pure coincidence that it started when he reduced the pressure.

I replaced the rocker gasket and installed new plugs. The car was heistant to start initially, but did seem to start better, and did seem better every time afterwards, however, i'm still waiting to hear how it started this morning.

Incidentally, the plugs which came out were all clean, I'd go as far as to say, maybe too clean.

In years gone by, we'd expect to see a straw colour, these all appeared to be running weak, but i've no idea if this is because it's a modern (ish) injection system as opposed to an old carb setup.

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Yes they if they are all set and wroking correctly and trhe engine is in good shape then the tips of the plugs will have a greyish/cleanish look to them. I say if they look clean then they are all 100% but new plugs will also help.

another thing I would do is take the throttle bottle of and give it a good clean. Its easy enough to do just the large intake pipe at front attached via dupliyclip and then for the TB its one elctrical clip and 4 toqx screws. 

see how it goes and keep us updated.

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Well he's back on the phone this moring, and again, he's absolutely 100% adamant that releasing the coolant pressure is allowing it to start.

If this truly is the case, then I can only assume the following.

 

A headgasket or cylinder bore leak, is pressurising the coolant system, which in turn is then allowing coolant back in to the cylinder, hence causing the poor starting issue.

However, there's no distinct loss of coolant that I can see in the header tank. Release the pressure and the level comes back up to max.

I'd expect to see a good drop in coolant level and steam from the exhaust.

I'm absolutely flummaxed.

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22 hours ago, keat63 said:

Well he's back on the phone this moring, and again, he's absolutely 100% adamant that releasing the coolant pressure is allowing it to start.

If this truly is the case, then I can only assume the following.

 

A headgasket or cylinder bore leak, is pressurising the coolant system, which in turn is then allowing coolant back in to the cylinder, hence causing the poor starting issue.

However, there's no distinct loss of coolant that I can see in the header tank. Release the pressure and the level comes back up to max.

I'd expect to see a good drop in coolant level and steam from the exhaust.

I'm absolutely flummaxed.

It very strange indeed. I myself would expect to see a loss in coolant if teh headgasket was gone and to see the car overheat as well but as you say when its driving it going great so im not so sure its the head gasket. Is the coolant nice and clean? 

This is a presurised system so there will aslways be a little bit of pressure in it but the collant cap may be faulty as it should vent pressure out over time to keep the collant system working correctly. check this and even let the car idle for about 20 min with thw cap of to see if it clears any air in the system.

It very confusing that this could be linked tothe starting issue especially when there is no collant loss at all, but i would try that and also clean the throttle body as well as it can do nothing but help.

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It's difficult to say for definate any coolant loss.

Take the car on a long run and the coolant all but dissapears from the header tank..

The hose are still squishable.

Release the pressure and there's an almighty rush of water, back up to the maximum mark.

 

 

 

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29 minutes ago, keat63 said:

It's difficult to say for definate any coolant loss.

Take the car on a long run and the coolant all but dissapears from the header tank..

The hose are still squishable.

Release the pressure and there's an almighty rush of water, back up to the maximum mark.

 

 

 

I would concentrate on this first as it's not right and needs fixing anyway.

I suspect air in the system so follow the correct procedures for your car to get the air out and once you cure this problem you might find it cures your starting problems as well

If not at least it's fixed and you can eliminate it from your thoughts as regards the starting problem.

 

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Is the car defiantly not showing any signs of overheating at all? Check round the hose connections and the thermostat housing in case it's drawing air in but I would run it idle for about 20min with no cap on just to clear any air out and see what it does.

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