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Eric
Eric, Automotive Repair Shop Manager
Category: Ford
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Experience:  Automotive Repair Shop Manager, Technician
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Ford Focus SE Help! I am desperate to figure to out whats

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Help! I am desperate to figure to out what's going on with my car. I have a 2001 Ford Focus wagon that has been losing power while driving. Just shuts down completely. Sometimes I can get it started again after waiting awhile, other times it has to be jump-started or towed. The problem seems to be intermittent, but increasing in frequency. In the past month, I have replaced the battery and the alternator at a cost of over $700.. In both instances, it drives fine for awhile and then the problems start up again. I don't feel safe going anywhere right now. Two different mechanics have run diagnostics but can't identify the problem. I just replaced the alternator about 4 or 5 days ago and then yesterday wouldn't start after shopping for groceries. It had been running fine until then.

Similar problems have happened in the past but it ran fine for long periods of time after repairs. However, it seems to have gone through a lot of batteries over the years. More than would be expected - at least 5 or 6. About 3 years ago on a cross-country trip, I experienced recurring loss of power which, after a lot of guessing by mechanics, turned out to be a faulty fuel pump. It was covered under a recall and I haven't had any further problems until the past month or so. Could it be the fuel pump again? After researching online, it seems a lot of people have similar complaints but I haven't found anyone that has actually identified the cause or offered any solutions. Please help. I don't know what to do at this point. I don't feel safe and I can't keep spending hundreds of dollars on guesses. Thanks so much. Tracy
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Ford
Expert:  Eric replied 3 years ago.
Hi,

yes, it could be a failing fuel pump. what we need to do is to determine what is missing when this happens -fuel or spark.

You can do this easily yourself. You will just need to keep a can of starting fluid with you. the next time it occurs, spray some starting fluid into the throttle body and try to start it. If it starts and runs for a few seconds, then the fuel pump is failing again.

If no difference, then it is not getting spark and likely a fualty ignition coil or possible ignition control module
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
I think I need a little more info.

My car completely shuts down WHILE driving, as in catastrophic failure. No power, no power steering, no lights, nothing. because it happens while driving, both mechanics i have talked to have ruled out ignition

Three years does not seem long enough to for a new fuel pump to go bad, but I suppose it's possible. If so, is it likely there another problem with the car that is causing the fuel pump to wear out so quickly? I am not a mechanic and do not know where to spray fluid or where the throttle body is. could you offer any other diagnostic advice? I will have my mechanic check the fuel pump but would welcome any other ideas you might have, just in case that's not the problem.
Expert:  Eric replied 3 years ago.
Hi,

ok, first understand that your mechanic will only be able to check it when the car dies and wont restart immediately, otherwise it will test ok. to understand why fuel pumps fail, we have to understand how they work. They are located in the fuel tank and the fuel that pumps thru it also cools the fuel pump motor as well as keeps it lubricated. Low fuel often enough can cause the fuel pump to overheat and the start shutting down after a while on its own as it gets hot from running. This isnt a design flaw or Ford problem, as it happens in all makes of vehicles. and if an aftermarket fuel pump was installed instead of a genuine Ford one, then 3yrs is actually about a 1 1/2 longer than most aftermarket fuel pumps last. Due to the shortness of their lifespan, I wont install aftermarket fuel pumps anymore.

below is a photo of your engine. I have labeled the throttle body, as well as air intake tube and a clamp. to spray starter fluid into the throttle body, use a phillips head screwdriver to loosen the clamp I labeled. Then pull up on intake tube to release it from the air cleaner box it is attached to. Spray the starter fluid into the air intake tube, re-attach it and then try to start. takes maybe 5 minutes total time:

graphic



If no difference, then a voltmeter is required to test the coils, as well as other ignition system parts. the coiil and ingition control module are tested for receiving 12v and then for supplying 12v to the spark plugs so that spark is achieved to ignitie the fuel in the cylinders.

Expert:  Eric replied 3 years ago.

ok, first understand that your mechanic will only be able to check it when the car dies and wont restart immediately, otherwise it will test ok. to understand why fuel pumps fail, we have to understand how they work. They are located in the fuel tank and the fuel that pumps thru it also cools the fuel pump motor as well as keeps it lubricated. Low fuel often enough can cause the fuel pump to overheat and the start shutting down after a while on its own as it gets hot from running. This isnt a design flaw or Ford problem, as it happens in all makes of vehicles. and if an aftermarket fuel pump was installed instead of a genuine Ford one, then 3yrs is actually about a 1 1/2 longer than most aftermarket fuel pumps last. Due to the shortness of their lifespan, I wont install aftermarket fuel pumps anymore.

below is a photo of your engine. I have labeled the throttle body, as well as air intake tube and a clamp. to spray starter fluid into the throttle body, use a phillips head screwdriver to loosen the clamp I labeled. Then pull up on intake tube to release it from the air cleaner box it is attached to. Spray the starter fluid into the air intake tube, re-attach it and then try to start. takes maybe 5 minutes total time:

graphic
View Full Image




If no difference, then a voltmeter is required to test the coils, as well as other ignition system parts. the coiil and ingition control module are tested for receiving 12v and then for supplying 12v to the spark plugs so that spark is achieved to ignitie the fuel in the cylinders.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Ok - makes sense. This is really helpful and I will print it up and take it to my mechanic. The problem does seem to have similarities to the road trip that lead to the first replacement of the fuel pump so hopefully this is the problem. I do have just one more question though - maybe you have an idea or not - but the first time this happened, as in this case, the problem was preceded by a dead battery. Is there something with a failing fuel pump that causes the battery to drain? That's what seems to throw everyone off as to what the real problem is. Thanks so much for your help.
Expert:  Eric replied 3 years ago.
Hi,

It is possible that the fuel pump circuit is staying on, burning up the pump and draining the battery when the key is out of the ignition.

Have your mechanic do a parastic battery drain test on the fuel pump circuit. This is hooking a voltmeter between the battery cable and the battery and checking it for voltage drain. He watches the voltage as he pulls the fuse to the fuel pump. If voltage goes to zero when this happens, then the fuel pump is draining the battery when the key is off. He will need to then check for an open in the wiring harness to the fuel pump causing it.

Edited by Eric on 1/12/2011 at 8:21 PM EST
Eric, Automotive Repair Shop Manager
Category: Ford
Satisfied Customers: 24739
Experience: Automotive Repair Shop Manager, Technician
Eric and 4 other Ford Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Great - thanks again. Best, Tracy
Expert:  Eric replied 3 years ago.
Hi,

you are very welcome. have a wonderful upcoming weekend and please dont forget to click the accept so i am credited for my time and services
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Hi Eric:

I tried to print up the full size version of the photo and it won't print. It must a protected file or something. The small photo is too small to be of any help out on the road the next time this happens. Can you email me a version that I can print? Thx. TR
Expert:  Eric replied 3 years ago.
Hi,

ok, I did the photo as a pdf file(adobe reader). click on highlighted word below to open and download the pdf file and then print out.

PHOTO


let me know if this one wont print out better

Edited by Eric on 1/13/2011 at 3:12 PM EST
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
great - thanks so much

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Eric
Eric
Ford Mechanic
24739 Satisfied Customers
Automotive Repair Shop Manager, Technician