Ford focus UK 2001 not starting first time (+ solution)

Ford Focus Mk1 2001 1.6 Petrol UK model
My car usually starts on the first turn of the key but just before Christmas I found that when left in the cold (freezing weather) for more
than 4 hours on the first turn of the key the car would not start. It would take 3 to 6 on/off sequences and even then the engine would sometimes behave if was short of fuel and attempt to stall if the foot wasn't pressed firmly on the accelerator pedal.
The car would always start first time afterwards even if it had been running for less than a minute before. When the weather became a milder again it would start reliably on the first turn of the key, albeit very slightly hesitantly.
The solution was related to the engine head temperature sensor. The head temperature sensor is located between the two centre spark plugs and sits down a 'hole' in the engine head. When removing the rubber cover and the spark plug leads there was water in the hole.
The connector for the temperature sensor can be seen here:
http://www.admac.myzen.co.uk/focus_sensor/
The brown outer coating is wet rust (from the engine head). The clip holding the connector to its mating half wasn't particularly positive and there was wetness between the two connectors.
Once dry and cleaned up the car now starts first time every time even when sat overnight in temperatures below 0C. I assume that previously the ECU wasn't detecting that the engine was cold and not adjusting throttle and/or fuel to compensate. At no time did the temperature gauge which uses the same sensor show any abnormal behaviour.
I'm unsure how the water got in the hole but it could have been related to driving in heavy rain with deep surface water some time during the latter part of last year. The cover for the temperature sensor isn't 100% water tight. I don't believe that the coolant from the engine is the cause as a dozen or so checks since the fix shows no wetness.
I would have thought that the engine gets hot enough to boil the water away but apparently not with the spark plug and sensor covers in place. I resorted to making up a smaller nozzle for my vacuum cleaner to suck the water and any crud out, running the engine up to temperature, then removing the spark plug and sensor covers to let the residual steam out.
BTW, the metal part of the hose for a Henry vacuum cleaner fits nicely in the spark plug holes to clean out any crud before removing spark plugs.
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alan_m wrote:

Very common fault on the Mk1 Focus; usual cause is leaking screenwash where the pipe fits to the jets.

I would strongly advise *not* using a Henry to suck up any fluid! The air path goes through the filters, then directly over the motor windings. It's the second most common cause of failure with the Henry family.
You were lucky to get away with it - the amount of water must have been minimal.
Chris
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On 15/01/2017 21:14, Chris Whelan wrote:
>Very common fault on the Mk1 Focus; usual cause is leaking screenwash >where >the pipe fits to the jets.
I checked multiple times for any trace of water since the fix and none has been seen. My screen wash is currently very blue in colour and I been using the jets extensively over the past week. I don't believe there is a leak from ten jet connections.

> You were lucky to get away with it - the amount of water must have > > been minimal.
The water was equivalent to perhaps half a tea cup and I used a half full of dust Hepto filter bag which acted like sponge to soak up the water in the Henry. I chucked the bag after use. 3 of the spark plug wells had dry 'crud' around the in-situ plugs which the Henry cleaned up nicely
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alan_m wrote:

Other possibility is the screenwash jets not being sealed to the bonnet properly, allowing water past them to drip downwards, This is a known issue on Mk2 cars, but it's not unreasonable to think it might happen to yours. Solution in that case is to replace the sealing washers under the jets.
I very much doubt it is water travelling up from the road; if that happened enough to flood the plug recesses I think your problems would have been bigger than they were.

OK. As you are posting in a public arena I wanted to make sure that others were aware that Henry cleaners are not suitable for cleaning up liquids.
Chris
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