Speedometer falls to zero, 2001 Focus

I've had the speedometer fall to zero and stay there for a few minutes on my 2001 Focus (SPI, 5spd). The trip odometer stops with the current count, but the gas and temperature gages remain working properly.
This time-out for the speedometer has happened twice, a month or so apart. In addition, my engine stumbles when upshifting when you are a bit low in RPM. With the old carburetted cars, I would call it "lugging". My mileage is 35MPH or better (not bad for 76K miles).
Is there some sort of electrical connector that's suspect here?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Louis Ohland wrote:

Use Google groups to search alt.autos.ford.focus for "VSS" or "vehicle speed sensor". It's a sensor fitted in the transmission to tell the ECU the vehicle speed. Failure is *very* common!
I'm guessing you are in the US, so prices may not mean much. In the UK however, the sensor costs about 25UKP. A dealer would charge about 100UKP to replace it.
If you decide to do it yourself, read the information I and others have posted carefully. It's a bit awkward to do, and you really don't want to break the sensor off in the housing! It should only take about 45 minutes to do however.
Let us know how you get on.
Chris
--
Remove prejudice to reply.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Chris Whelan wrote:

I asked the dealer to fix it while it was under warranty. They didn't. I don't intend to darken their garage again. Surfing for location : "Back of the gearbox, directly intop of the driveshafts- i.e. where the diff is. 3 wire connection. Just about reachable from ontop. "

I had a 93 F150 with the straight six. I needed to replace the rotor cap in the distributor and managed to shear off one of the mounting screws (don't believe 100K mile service intervals for assemblies that use screws - they corrode).
Surprising what nylon wire ties can do...
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Louis Ohland wrote:

"Hopefully you got a new pin when you got the VSS? If not I would advise getting one before you start as the chances are you will destroy the old pin during removal.
Using a pair of pliers, bend the flat clip out of the way. (It does not go in to the hole; it just presses on the casting.) It will probably detach itself when you do this. Grip the pin with a pair of side-cutters close to the transmission housing and then use the side-cutters to lever the pin out. You will have to keep repositioning the side-cutters along the length of the pin as it gradually moves.
Others have suggested clamping mole grips on the pin, then tapping the mole grips with a hammer. I tried that, but it didn't work for me. YMMV.
Once the pin is removed the VSS is still a bit hard to get out. It has two O-rings on it that make it a tight fit in the housing. DO NOT be tempted to try to knock it upwards with a drift and hammer. This might result in the sensor breaking, leaving half of it in the hole!
In the limited space available wrap a piece of rag around the sensor and rock it GENTLY from side to side and twist it as you pull upwards. Take your time and it will eventually come out.
I agonised for ages before tackling mine, but once I took the plunge I did it in less than 20 minutes.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Louis Ohland wrote:

Yep, you've found it!
One other suggestion I've read but not tried is to remove the transmission oil filler plug. This allegedly makes it easier to pull the sensor out by preventing the vacuum effect holding it in place. No idea if it helps, but it's free to try!
Chris
--
Remove prejudice to reply.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I went to a local garage with MECHANICS (Ford uses TECHNICIANS) and both knew what I needed and where it was. Also they knew it was a bit difficult to get out...
I have no intention of trying it myself, since I've no lift. Difficult access plus difficult removal = snapped-off part. Now we're talking a tow plus removal of the stub, plus the parts we were going to replace.
Ford makes interesting products, but they don't know how to maintain them. Build a million units, see where they fail, then come up with a part that works...
Chris Whelan wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Louis Ohland wrote:

I did mine in a public car park using a trolley jack and a pair of axle stands. I'm not a mechanic, or a technician. It took me about 20 minutes. Oh, I'm also 60 years old, and suffer with a chronic back injury.

It doesn't *have* to mean that...

Why would you need a tow? You've been driving it with a failing sensor. Why couldn't you drive it with a broken one?

Tell me, which other manufacturer does things differently?
I know that the US Focus is quite different from a quality perspective, but the European one has been discovered to be the most reliable amongst three year old cars by a well-respected German standards agency. It was up against MB, BMW, and all the well-known Japanese makes.
With regard to your particular car, it's the bottom of the range in the US and it's six years old. If the most trouble you have with it is intermittent failure of a part that costs 25UKP, and doesn't prevent you driving it, I'd say that's quite a result.
Chris
--
Remove prejudice to reply.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Chris Whelan wrote:

From my experience with Fords (69 Fairlane, 78 Granada, 78 E150, 93 F150, 95 Escort) "it doesn't have to" equals wishful thinking. Better safe than sorry.

FAIK, if the radio does not have the input from the VSS, then the car won't run at all. Ford decided to prove the Chaos Principle, where ever more complex systems interact in unforeseen ways.

The only thing that stopped me cold was when the ignition cylinder refused to turn at all. I must say it's been a little trooper, burning through the mountains in Pennsylvania at 80MPH, averaging 32MPG. Out in flatter land like Ohio, I was back up to 35MPG. And faster yet...
Motor mount (took the Ford Technicians three times to fix it) Left rear door lock (corrosion) Antenna (snapped off at bolt) Belt tensioner (never failed totally)
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Louis Ohland wrote:

If you regularly snap off parts when working on a variety of cars, perhaps you are not ideally suited for such tasks?
Also, if you have such a low opinion of Ford, why do you keep buying their products?

the VSS signal? In fact, what would stop the car from running if the *radio* was missing?
I ran my Focus for about 12 months with the VSS slowly failing. Eventually, it was not giving an output for about 10% of the time. At no time was it likely that it was going to leave me stranded!

If you have had the vehicle for any significant amount of time, that's still a very low failure rate.
Chris
--
Remove prejudice to reply.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Chris Whelan wrote:

After 30 years, one has memories.

I've wondered about that, and can only think it's genetic.

After nine months of "technicians" trying to figure out why my HEGO was showing an error on my F-150, they finally welded a baffle into the exhaust to keep the backpressure high enough so the charge wasn't pulled out too fast. They were lucky my 93 had the "flight recorder" capabilities, so they were able to get a good shot of the signal from the HEGO going straight up. Unfortunately, it didn't help them fix it faster. It tended to buck at 45MPH in fourth gear...
If the Ford engineers took that long to work something out, I'd say that my "feeling" that there could be unforeseen dependencies has some merit. Besides, it's a good "laughter through tears" cheerfulness. Lighten up.

My largest aggravation with Ford has been their clueless (or rapacious?) service personnel. Reminds me that one service rep told me I needed to get the front rotors turned on my Focus to eliminate the brake pulsing, but less than six months later, after the brake pulsing returned, another service rep said that Focus rotors should not be turned.
It's been rare for a Ford to pack it up totally (both brakes on my F-150, cylinder lock on my Focus). They usually get you back. Reminds me of when the slave cylinder went out on my F-150. Shifted a bit touchy, but it ran.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Louis Ohland wrote: || I went to a local garage with MECHANICS (Ford uses TECHNICIANS) || and both knew what I needed and where it was. Also they knew it was || a bit difficult to get out... || || I have no intention of trying it myself, since I've no lift. || Difficult access plus difficult removal = snapped-off part. Now we're || talking a tow plus removal of the stub, plus the parts we were going || to replace. || || Ford makes interesting products, but they don't know how to maintain || them. Build a million units, see where they fail, then come up with a || part that works... ||
Which is why a the Japanese are still the world's number one when it comes down to a reputation, with the same attitude reflected in their electronics industry.
When the rest of the world were making colour TV's which required a couple of service visits a year, the Japanese started selling receivers which worked without fail for 10 or 15 years and have never looked back (i.e.where are the one time big-name US and European manufacturers now?) .. although when it comes to rest of the worlds cheap mass produced car manufacturers, IMO Ford could be considered the best of a bad bunch.
|| Chris Whelan wrote: |||||| It's a sensor fitted in the transmission to tell the ECU the |||||| vehicle speed. Failure is *very* common!
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Sad to think they took up what Deming had to say and went to town with it.
Ivan wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Louis Ohland wrote:

Unless US verions are *very* different from UK ones. I'd be amazed if it was reachable from above.
With the front of the vehicle safely raised and supported, slide under from the front. Look up at the gap between the bulkhead (firewall?) and the differential housing. The sensor is on top of the housing.

One thing you would be unable to do with a cable tie is remove the broken bits of a VSS...
Good luck!
Chris
--
Remove prejudice to reply.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Check the speed sensor on the gearbox. this will cause the mentioned problems most time.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

Motorsforum.com is a website by car enthusiasts for car enthusiasts. It is not affiliated with any of the car or spare part manufacturers or car dealers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.