Running on 3 cyls

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Hi Everyone,
Maybe one of you can help me? I have a 2000 Focus 2litre and over the last 2 weeks or so it's started running like it's only firing on 3 cyls. At first,
it would just do it for a mile or so but for the past week it's doing it constantly. Does anyone have any ideas on what the problem might be and I what I need to do to fix it? Any suggestions appreciated.
Gren
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When's the last time this poor beast had new spark plugs and wires?
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wrote

I think they're probably the original ignition leads and I'm not sure if the plugs were changed during a service. I thought plugs were 'long-life' these days. I guess replacing the plugs would be a good place to start. I forgot to mention that I put the dash into diagnostic mode and got an error code of 9202 displayed. I was wondering if maybe one of the injectors was blocked and could be fixed some fuel injection cleaner additive in the fuel.
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the coil pack is very,very common on the uk focus at this age dunno where your from tho...
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ford_technical_ wrote:

The OP said that it runs on 3 cylinders for a short while after starting, and the problem is getting worse. Would a coil pack give those symptoms? I would have thought that once they failed the fault would be there all the time?
Chris
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If he;s been running around on 3 cylinders for upwards of a week, he'll need a new Cat too! lol.
Tim..
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I'm from Luton, UK...
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Recently my focus felt like it was only firing on two cylinders - the cause was a faulty coil pack . The onset of the problem was sudden and didn't get progressively worse. The car could not accelerate very well. I had the yellow engine warning light coming on but the two codes read from the diagnostic port were completely unrelated to the actual fault. They were probably caused by interference from the faulty coil getting back into the engine management system.
The 'dash diagnostic' code only gives a very limited range of (mainly) dash related problems and is not a substitute for reading the OBDII codes on the diagnostic port with a dedicated reader.
The list at
<http://mustangworld.com/ourpics/fcar/dtcodes.htm
suggests that 9602 = Received Invalid Format of Key - code from Ignition Key transponder. As you can obviously start the car this is a spurious result - possibly caused by the fact you were in the diagnostic mode in the first place (see the advice at the bottom of page on the web link above).
On a previous car (not Ford) I had poor running from a (partially) blocked fuel injector, cured with an application of a jet cleaner to the fuel tank.
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Alan
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wrote

I think you might have mis-read my item about the fault code which said I was getting a code 9202 not 9602. According to the mustangworld url you mentioned, this code refers to "Fuel Sender open Circuit" which leaves me a bit puzzled - but thanks for checking anyway.
Unlike the problem you experienced I'm not seeing any engine management lights on the dash (but I've checked they're working, just in case!). My problem started off just when the engine was cold and went away within 1 or 2 mile of driving hence my thinking that I could have a faulty spark plug lead. I'm not so sure now that the problem is there continuously.
I'm definitely going out to pick up some plugs & leads tomorrow, maybe a coil pack as well.
Thanks for everyone's suggestions so far.
Gren
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Gren wrote:
[...]

I'm willing to bet that there isn't a single Focus anywhere that doesn't display 9202 if no other codes are present!
The design of the fuel gauge sender is poor. (It is a variable resistor operated by a float). It frequently goes open circuit very briefly as the car goes along and the float jumps about.
The ECU looks for an input signal from the sender, and averages the signal to provide a form of damping to stop the gauge jumping about. Often the signal is missing because the wiper is not in contact with the track of the resistor. When this happens the ECU just uses the last value, but the fault is logged. This is where the 9202 code comes from.
If you brim the tank to get the last drop of fuel in, the float will be hard against the stop. If the resistor wiper/track contact is poor here there will be no signal to the ECU for an extended time. When this happens, the ECU puts the gauge to empty and turns the low fuel light on. This is a very common Focus fault. If you ignore it and just keep driving, as the tank level falls and the float is again free to move, the ECU will see a signal and the gauge will resume normal indication.
This can be avoided by stopping on the first "click" of the trigger when you are refuelling.
Chris
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Here in North America this was a precursor to more complete sender failure in early production Foci (it happened to my 2000 wagon). What actually happened in my case at least was that the gauge would subsequently read high, and as a result I ran out of gas. My sender was replaced under warrantee, and has worked fine ever since, including if I fill the tank to the brim. Newer Focus models also seem to work well.
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Dave Gower wrote:

I'm crossing my fingers that it doesn't happen to me. Replacing the whole fuel supply module is expensive!
Chris
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Now that you mention it, I do see this myself from time to time. As you say, once the fuel level drops a bit or if I get out and rock the car from side to side, the fuel gauge does wake up. I don't have a low fuel level warning light to come on but have the trip computer instead. I don't get a low fuel level warning but the fuel range display does seem to get confused until the gauge sorts itself out.
Gren
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Both plugs and wires are tune-up items. You can see the recommended change intervals in the owner's manual. Even if they're not the problem, replacing old ones with new will probably pay for themselves just in fuel costs, to say nothing of better pep, smoothness etc.
A good injector cleaner in the gas is always useful, and the intake plenum should be cleaned. This cleans up the 02 sensor as well as balances the airflow. Also needed are fuel and air filters, and the thermostat function should be checked, since engine temperature is vital to good running in today's cars. In this line, you might see if it's due for a complete cooling system power flush and pressure test. Like the others said, your coil pack could also be at fault.
The cylinders might be getting carbonned up because of the poor running, in which case you may need to drive it for a while to get the full benefit of these procedures. Good luck.
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wrote

As I've mentioned in a separate reply, I'm off to pick up some plugs & leads tomorrow. I'll try to get some injector cleaner as well and hopefully together, they'll sort the problem. I'd previously heard I might have to run the car for while to get the benefit of the cleaner as my son had this done to his Astra by a garage to get it through the MOT test.
Gren
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Gren wrote:

Replace plugs and leads with genuine ones from a Ford dealer. Check the correct gap before fitting as this has been reduced from the original setting.
This is a normal service procedure, and should be carried out at 40K intervals. How many miles are on the car and when was it last serviced?
Failure to do this may cause the coil pack/s to die.
HTH
Chris
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The car currently has just over 73k mile on the odo and the last service was done at around 68k last year. I'm off to the spares shop tomorrow to pick up some plugs & leads so will see what improvement that brings.
Gren
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Gren wrote:

I think the usual advice here is to make sure they are Ford HT cables. This was certainly the case on a mates old Escort - leads from a motor factors hadn't helped but Ford ones solved his problems. Hope you get it working.
D.
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Fitted Motorcraft coil pack, Bosch HT leads (as these were the best I could get today) and new plugs. One of the torx screws for the coil pack was a pain to remove but I got there in the end. Everything running smoothly now. I'm just waiting to use up a bit more fuel in the tank before I add some injector cleaner and refill the tank.
When I removed the HT leads from the coil I noticed that one of the brass contacts on the coil was black and seemed to be badly burned - maybe there was some arcing going on between the contact and the HT lead.
Anyway, the MOT test is next month so I guess I'll find out then if the CAT's been damaged at all.
Thanks to everyone for their suggestions.
Gren
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==This may not help But!!! In 1980 I had a 400 Cubic inch Ford. (about 6,5 litre) I live in Canada. I had problems with a mechanic repeatadly doing a short test on each bank (V8) The result was a blocked cat that refused to work correctly. I was told to run the car for for 60 Miles on the Highway at 75 MPH. (Not legal..) I did that and it cleared the cat out perfectly. Geoff.
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