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Need some help with '03...

2985 Views 21 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Rook
I have an '03 four door with the 2.0 split port and have been having a problem with a miss, or "flutter", in 5th gear at highway speeds. It does it worse in the morning when it is cold and it is the first start up of the day. At the first start up of the day it will often miss, or "flutter", through all of the gears getting up to speed. After the engine is shut off and then re-started several hours later it is noticeably better with less of a miss or "flutter".

The check engine light, CEL, came on and I had a buddy check it with his scanner. It threw a code indicating "insufficient exhaust gas recirculation" or something along those lines. After doing some research I found that it is fairly common for the DPFE sensor to go bad. I went to the parts store and picked up a new DPFE sensor and there was no improvement. So, I went back to the parts store and picked up a new EGR valve and EGR tube. I disconnected the battery while replacing the EGR valve and tube which took a couple of hours. I checked all of the vac lines and they all appeared to be in good condition.

After reconnecting the batter and allowing the engine to idle for about three minutes I took it out for a drive. The miss or "flutter" is still there - absolutely NO improvement. I am heading over to my buddy's place later this evening and will have him scan it again to see if there are any more codes...

Does anyone have ANY idea or suggestions? It is really frustrating!!!
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I replaced the coil with a new one and the problem still persists maybe even worse. When the engine was cold upon first starting it after the new coil it ran great. As soon as it was up to operating temp the stumble returned...

Does anyone have ANY suggestions on what to try next?

Thanks for the reply. I am going to stick the scanner on it in the morning. I will post up the codes, if there are any, as soon as I get home.

I drove it tonight and sometimes it runs absolutely great then other times absolutely horrible. For example, I had to run a short errand about 4 miles from home. It ran great and there was only a very small, slight hint of a stumble in 5th gear going up a small grade. I park the car for about 30 minutes and when leaving I shift to second gear at, maybe, 15 - 20 miles per hour and the car falls on its face - I really thought it was going to stall out it was so bad. I gave it a little more gas and it cleared up and was fine the rest of the way home.

Unfortunately, I didn't get the opportunity to pull the codes today. My buddy was unable to make it by with his scanner so I believe we will get to it Saturday afternoon.

I drove the car for about 50 miles today... Some of it was good and some of it bad. It just seems it is hit or miss and no real rhyme or reason why it misses sometimes and other times it doesn't. For example, coming home going up a slight grade in 5th gear at about 45 mph it pulled the grade fine with no hesitation. Then a few miles later up a similar grade at 55 mph it started missing, or "fluttering"... One thing I have noticed is that when I let off the gas I notice the "flutter" when the car is coasting and still in gear.

It has 175,000 miles on it now and I have never changed the fuel filter... It sounds like I should probably look into doing that ASAP.

Thanks again and if you have any further suggestions I would really like to hear them...

One thing I may have failed to mention... When I replaced the EGR, EGR tube and DPFE I unhooked the battery for 30 minutes. After doing so the CEL did not come back on and has not come back on...
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Jimmy... Thanks for all of the help so far, I really appreciate it!!!

Last night the CEL came back on. This morning I had the opportunity to swing by my buddy's place and we hooked up the scanner. The codes I got were as follows: "misfire cylinder #2", "misfire cylinder #3" and "misfire at idle".

I changed the fuel filter while I was there and poured in a can of Sea Foam. The problem is a little bit better but not completely gone. The weather is around 70 today and it has always seemed to run better with nice weather. The thing that really has me stumped is after doing the fuel filter and Sea Foam going up a slight grade in 5th gear I slowed down to ~35 mph and it pulled the grade fine with no miss. I get to between 50 - 55 mph in 5th gear on a flat road and it will miss. Anything below 50 mph or above 55 mph in 5th gear and it is fine... When I let off the throttle, no matter the speed in 5th gear, like approaching a turn I can feel it miss.

Any other ideas or suggestions?
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Thanks again Jimmy. I always seem to have the problems that no one has ever experienced before. LOL!!!

I do appreciate you taking the time to try and help out. Like I said, there has been some improvement just not 100%. I will probably try the O2 sensor next...
Jimmy, I thought I had the solution... I pulled the plugs this morning and the electrodes on the #2 and #3 plugs did not look good. I went to parts store and picked up some Autolite 5144's, gapped them at .050 and put them in... I soon as I started it I could immediately tell I was idling smoother. I revved it up a couple of times and there was no miss at all on throttle tip in.

I took it out for a drive and for the first mile to mile and a half it ran great. No missing, just nice and smooth... I got in 5th gear and accelerated up to 50 mph and again it was nice and smooth with no missing. Once it got up to operating temp the 5th gear miss reared its ugly head.

I went to the gas station and filled up due to being low on fuel. On the way home it ran better but still had the miss.
Jimmy, I believe the gap is supposed to be .055 but I went a little tighter to not put any more strain on the ignition system than needed.

It will sometimes do it in other gears but not as bad as in 5th. It does it most of the time when going down hill or letting off the gas pedal. I guess that is why it shows up more when in 5th gear because I am accelerating through the other gears and just cruising along in 5th. The really weird thing about it is I can be going up hill in 5th gear and it will not miss a beat as long as I am giving it more throttle - not "flooring it" or anything - just opening up the throttle more... It is almost like it only does it when the throttle blade is at a certain angle.
I saw the coil and plugs on offending cylinders were replaced but I didn't see wires unless I totally missed that. I had a very similar problem about 4 years ago on my 03 SPI Manual, and it turned out the #3 plug wire had a break in it. Problem solved. Last winter problem came back, changed plugs and wires,fuel filter, problem persisted, turned out to actually be the crap that passes for winter gas from ARCO, switched over to Cheveron and have not had that issue since. Tall gears mid to WOT conditions never at low throttle both times. Hope that helps.
Thanks for the reply ghost... I have yet to try plug wires. I did replace the plug wires about three years ago with Motorcraft wires.

The real perplexing thing about this problem is it does not do it all of the time. For the first few miles the car is driven in the morning it does great. After it warms up a bit the problem gets worse but is still not 100% of the time.

It is most noticeable at 50-55 mph in flat roads with very little throttle input or when I lift off the throttle going down a grade. Going up a grade, no matter what gear I am in, it pulls fine without a miss as long as the throttle is being progressively applied. When I ease off the throttle or go to a steady cruise is when it starts to miss.

I don't believe it is gas as I have filled up at several different stations.

If you have any other suggestions I would really like to hear them... I am sure Jimmy would too. LOL!!!
Hey guys, again I want to say thanks for all of the suggestions...

The little Foci has been through a bunch this week. Monday night coming back from my buddy's place Bambi decided to cross the road right in front of me while I was doing about 50 mph. I saw a flash to my left and the next thing I knew the deer was right in front of me. I didn't have time to hit the brakes until after the impact. Luckily, it hit fairly solid and did not come over the hood and into the windshield. I am happy to report that the Foci does track straight when the brakes are locked up as it could have been really bad with woods on both sides of the road... Both headlight buckets were broken, the grill was broken into about four pieces and the nose of the hood was folded up. Other than that it came out of it pretty good.

I made a trip to the local "pick a part" this morning and scored two headlight buckets, a grill and a hood that didn't even need to be paint matched. $120 out the door for everything and the Foci looks as good as ever...

But the real news... Last night I started the Focus in the driveway and opened the hood. My neighborhood is so dark that you can not even see your hand in front of your face... Anyway, sure enough I could see a bunch of arcing from the #2 and #3 plug wires and the warmer the engine got the worse the arcing became. I put a new set of plug wires on this evening and it now runs like a top!!! No more misfires!!!

Now if I could only cure the radio reception problem...
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Thanks Ron... I believe I am good on injectors for the time being. If the need comes up in the future I will seek the dealer name from you.
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