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John, UK Car Mechanic
Category: UK Car
Satisfied Customers: 191
Experience:  C&G lvl 3, RTITB lvl 3, Ford, Vauxhall & GM-Daewoo/Chevrolet Europe Technician, 19 years exp.
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Hello, I have a ford fiesta 1996 1.25 engine, 40 000 miles

Customer Question

Hello, I have a ford fiesta 1996 1.25 engine, 40 000 miles on it. In the last three weeks it ate 2l of oil. Apart from that, it is often haunting, loosing power, especially on high rpm as well as wobbling. It has nothing to do with cold or hot engine, wet or cold, or whatever weather -- it can happen anytime, randomly, periodically. Although the most problems are on the motorway, when driving fast, on high rpm -- it is wobbling for a while, and that it is fine again. .. I went to service (not ford) twice and they didn't find anything (although between those 3 weeks it lost 2 l of oil). My friend, who used to work for Ford, told me that it is to do with engine calibration and that the software update will solve everything. Meanwhile, when I told that to Ford service, they said it won't fix the problem and offered me to book the car in for diagnostics (which I had twice anyway). Any solutions?
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: UK Car
Expert:  John replied 8 years ago.

Hi and welcome to JA,

there is a re-calibration for the 96 fiesta but it may not cure the fault you have as it was more for low speed manouvering, (parking, turning round etc) the hunting/loosing power could be down to a number of things, hunting in general only occurs at idle, and on this engine 9 times out of 10 is down to the idle speed control valve either sticking or not working, you can try removing this and cleaning it, either with a carb cleaner aerosol, or by soaking it in petrol, DO NOT SCRAPE INSIDE THE VALVE! as it may not seal properly if damaged, it is also worthwhile checking that all vacuum, pipes and hoses are connected properly with no splits or leaks, and that the inlet manifold gasket is in good condition, the loss of power at high RPM could be down to the usual suspects, plugs, leads and coil pack, or possibly loss of fuel pressure due to a weak fuel pressure regulator, or fuel pump, a fuel pressure test and road test together could help determine that,


However, with regard to the oil loss, these engines, especially the early ones were very prone to excessive cylinder bore wear, this could be causing the power loss due to lack of compression, it is also very likely the reason you are losing oil, the oil goes past the pistons in the cylinder and is burnt off, I recommend you have a cylinder compression test and oil pressure test done, if cylinder bore wear is found unfortunately it is unrepairable, the cylinder bores in the zetec-se engine are nickel plated, once this has worn off the block is scrap, overboring is not an option unfortunately, and only a replacement bottom end will cure it,


hope this helps,

John and 5 other UK Car Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Thank you for your answer, I really appreciate that.
Interestingly, I have heard from other users that it is to do with the connecting hose (air getting into the valves(?)). Anyway, I told that to the local service guys, but, after inspecting the car, they said everything is fine there, so nothing to do with loss of vacuum or whatever.
The other point is that it appears to be a common problem for this engine -- haunting, loss of power, etc. I have read about that in many forums. Yet no-one has found the actual symptom. Many people have said they replaced coil, plugs, leads but the problems still occured.
Expert:  John replied 8 years ago.
hunting at idle is nearly always the idle speed control valve, that was a common problem on escorts, fiesta's and mondeo's throughout the 90's, the only 'connecting hose' I can think of on the zetec-se is the one from the PCV (positive crankcase ventilation) valve to the inlet manifold, if this comes adrift it will cause problems but due to the size of the hose you would get a fast idle if it where leaking, the PCV valve itself if faulty could on rare occasions allow oil to be sucked into the inlet and burnt off in the combustion process, it could also cause an erratic idle, it would be worth checking this valve if you can get to it, its located in the top of the crankcase breather separator block on the front of the engine behind the inlet manifold, if you follow the thick black vacuum pipe that runs from the middle area of the inlet manifold you will see it, it can be a proper pain to get to,
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Firstly, the idle valve was cleaned and is fine -- the wobbling still occurs.
Secondly, I actually forgot to tell you that the rpm stays very high when in neutral. For example, if I am driving on 70mph and put to neutral, the rpm will stay at 4000 for a very, very long time.
Two days ago, when I was driving from London, the car couldn't accelerate at all in fifth or fourth gear. Only in third it could accelerate so I accelerated whilst in third and then put to 5th and the speed more or less could stay the same. ...
Expert:  John replied 8 years ago.

the revs are staying up because the vehicle speed sensor is telling the engine ECU that you are still doing 70mph, when you are 'in neutral' do you select neutral and release the clutch? or do you just hold the clutch pedal down? the clutch pedal has a position switch which informs the ECU when you are changing gear, these can cause a problem when faulty, it can also be attributed again to the idle valve not settling straight away,


with regard to not accelerating in 4th or 5th, this may be down to the oil loss problem, if the bores are worn you will have limited power, the engine has to work harder in higher gears to keep the car moving,


as stated in my first answer I really do recommend getting the 3 pressure tests done, if nothing else they will rule out fuel pressure, and any mechanical issue with the engine,



Customer: replied 8 years ago.
It will stay up even if the clutch is released.
But ok, it seems that I really need to get those tests. Thanks.
Expert:  John replied 8 years ago.
as it stays up with the pedal released have a look under the dash at the clutch pedal, make sure the switch is fitted correctly, if its popped out of its bracket the ECU Will think you have the pedal down and may be limiting power, also with a multimeter check the operation of the switch, make sure it goes on and off as the pedal is pressed and released,
Expert:  John replied 8 years ago.
Hi again, I have just had a look through some old technical service bulletins and it appears there is a re-calibration that may cure the high engine speed problem, and possibly the erratic idling, it only physically applies to fiesta's built in 1997 but there is no reason why you can't ask your ford dealer to carry it out, the TSB is No. 131/1997, (quote this to your dealer) apparently it only applies if you have brown fuel injectors fitted, but still may be worth a go even if you don't have them,
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Thank you again.
I am a student on a very tight budget. However, if your suggestions will help (and I hope and believe they will) I will accept another answer and tip you. I have service booked on Monday. I will let you know.
Thus far-- many thanks.
Expert:  John replied 8 years ago.
see how you get on, hope it goes well,