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Brad, ASE Certified Technician
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Tired of this Focus!!! Dash lights come on and off ...

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Tired of this Focus!!! Dash lights come on and off and car jerks like it is losing power. New battery and new alternator fixed it for 2 weeks, but problem is back. Any ideas?
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Ford
Expert:  TechManSteve replied 7 years ago.
Which dash lights, specifically, are going on and off? Is the trouble worse at night with the headlights on? Is the battery going dead?
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Reply to TechManSteve's Post: The battery has never failedd and car is easy to start. Seems to happen mainly after the car has set out in the heat all day, turn on the a/c, and go. AND happens at night with headlights on. Starts happening within 5 minutes after putting it in drive and heading out on the road. Its always the same 2 lights. The ABS and check engine. The car jerks like it has lost all power and then comes back on. Pull over, turn the car off, wait 5 minutes and all is ok for awhile. Then will start all over again for no reason. The problem has come and gone for 1 year now.
Expert:  TechManSteve replied 7 years ago.
I am not familiar with the exact symptom you describes so I'm going to leave your question for another expert that may have come across it. I asked about the headlights because you stated that replacing the alternator temporarily cured the problem, and that would imply a charging system problem. From your responses so far, I do not believe that this is the case.

To avoid delays, post back with the year and engine version in your Focus, so that another expert can respond with accurate information.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Reply to TechManSteve's Post: It is a 2001 Ford Focus, don't know about the engine version, sorry. A mechanic I work with suggested it might be a throttle regulator switch??? Does that sound right ?? Or might be the mass air flow???

Engine is a Zertec??
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Relist: I still need help.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Relist: No answer yet.
Expert:  Brad replied 7 years ago.
helloCustomer. when you restart the vehicle, do the Check engine and ABS lights stay on, or do they turn off?

Thanks!
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Reply to Brad's Post: No, they go off. They only flicker when the problem starts, they never stay on.

Thanks!!
Expert:  Brad replied 7 years ago.
OK.. when you turn the key on the bulbs are designed to come on for a few seconds then go off to do a "bulb test". Being this is happening when the car is acting up, you either have a bad ignition switch (losing power intermittantly to the computer), or a bad power supply going to the computer (or a bad computer itself).

The steering column must be partially disassembled to replace the ignition switch, and many electrical tests must be performed in order to verify which component is bad. Also if the computer needs replacement it will need to be reprogrammed at a Ford dealership. Not to insult anyone's intelligence, but unless you're highly experienced working on cars, I highly recommend you have this repaired professional.. this just simply isn't a job for a do-it-yourselfer.

If you feel you have the tools and the expertise to do these repairs, I'll be more than happy to walk you through the steps of replacing the ignition switch, but I don't want to see you spend good money on a part that may or may not fix your problem, so it's up to you!
Brad, ASE Certified Technician
Category: Ford
Satisfied Customers: 2365
Experience: ASE Certified Master Technician
Brad and 9 other Ford Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
Thanks for the info. The ignition switch makes sense. I just hate to keep pouring money into the car. Have you seen this problem before?
Expert:  Brad replied 7 years ago.
Focuses ARE known for ignition switch problems.. but I've never seen one malfunction in this way (on a focus anyway.. the ignition switches on the late model Chevy Malibus and Impalas are VERY prone to this exact type of failure).


Focus ignition switches typically lock up when they go bad, and it is impossible to remove the key when this happens.. looks like yours may be the oddball.
Brad, ASE Certified Technician
Category: Ford
Satisfied Customers: 2365
Experience: ASE Certified Master Technician
Brad and 9 other Ford Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
I need to ask my husband, but I think we had the ignition switch changed out when we bought the car. The key was hanging up and would not turn back all the way. I remember we had to have new keys made.

What do I need to check to see if it is the power supply going to the computer?
Expert:  Brad replied 7 years ago.
What is the 8th vin digit of your car?
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
1FAFP34P -- SO I guess it is P ???

Do I need to post another $9 ???
Expert:  Brad replied 7 years ago.
OK P it is... (tells me which engine is in your Focus)

In the fuse box under the hood, there is a relay called the "Power Hold Relay".. this is the main relay for the engine computer. It's possible this relay might be going bad, and it can cause the same symptoms. I would try replacing this relay first, as they are usually quite inexpensive. It also may be the same part# XXXXX the high beam relay, so if they both have the same number stamped on top, you can try swapping them with each other for testing purposes.

graphic

I was looking at the wiring diagrams for your engine computer, and completely forgot the possibility of a bad relay!!!

The only other thing you can do is hook a test light up to each power source for the engine computer one at a time, and try to watch the test light while the car acts up.. if it never flickers.. then likely the computer is bad...

But try the relay first.. I think that may just fix it for you!
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
I can't thank you enough. This is my daughters car. She is a college student out of town and I worry about the car breaking down. We will try the relay. And hopefully that will fix it.

Thanks again !!!
Expert:  Brad replied 7 years ago.
Yeah like i said i think it's the same relay part # XXXXX the high beam, low beam, and fuel pump relay. Being the high beams aren't critical... you can swap the two and leave it like that indefinitely.

I hope that does the trick!

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