The tow truck came around the corner of my shop with a 2003 Focus strapped down on the bed. It’s Stacey’s daughter’s car.
Stacey is the office manager at the body shop just down the street from my shop. Her daughter’s little Ford had called it quits at a stop sign for a trip on the back of a tow truck. Now it was up to me to find out what’s going on.
The tow driver brought the keys in to Katie (my daughter and office manager), she had already talked to Stacey and had the work order filled out. Katie asked the tow driver, “Where did you drop it at? Stacey said it won’t start.”
“It started great for me,” the tow driver said, “I put it along the side of the building for ya.”
I found the car right where he left it and I’ll have to admit, it did start up, but I wouldn’t call it great. I made it into the service bay with it bucking, jerking, and coughing like crazy, along with a terrible rotten egg smell coming from each end of the car. The service light was on so I thought I would start with finding out what trouble codes were stored. P0300, P0301, P0302, P0303, P0304, and P0316 - all misfire codes. It’s a good thing it didn’t have any more cylinders because I’d bet it would have added them onto its list of trouble codes too.
Rather than get into looking at the actual data logger section of the IDS, I figured I’ll open the hood and see what’s going on.
The car has the 2.0 liter ZETEC engine under the hood. It’s a fairly easy engine to pull the spark plugs on so I thought I would at least take a look at them. The odometer shows 184,000 miles on the little pavement pounder, so I was thinking the worst, that many miles… hey, anything is possible. As I pulled the first sparkplug boot off, a splash of coolant came out of the cavity. Well, that’s a little different, didn’t quite expect that. I pulled #2, same thing. Then the next one, again more coolant, and only the very tops of the spark plugs was sticking out. There were no signs of any kind of leaks anywhere on the engine, in fact, the reservoir was full and the engine showed no outward signs of overheating. It just didn’t make any sense how all this coolant could end up in there.
I blew all the coolant out, dried all the plug wires off, and re-installed them. After giving the key a turn the little engine came back to life and purred like new. Amazing, simply amazing how well it ran considering how badly it came into the shop. But within 15 minutes or so the engine started to act up again. It coughed and chugged, shucked and stuttered, and then it finally died. Now it won’t restart, what the? What’s going on here? Time to check a little further…