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Diagnose my dirty diesel starting issue (Ford Focus content)

majormantramajormantra Posts: 2,094
edited November 2014 in The cake stop
To save humiliation on the car forums (where my ignorance would be embarrassing), I thought I'd try here...

My Focus estate (2003 1.8 Duratorq TDCi) is hesitant for the first start of every day. The engine turns over ~5 times before it starts, sometimes catching once but failing to start. It still always starts on the first or second try though.

It doesn't seem to be temperature dependent, and even stopping the engine after 2 minutes, the second start is much smoother and more immediate, as are subsequent starts that day.

After the bad start, there's some white smoke which I take it is unburnt fuel. I was wondering if perhaps there's an air leak somewhere that's building up as the car is parked?

I've done the dash diagnostic trick and there are no fault codes, and the car runs perfectly otherwise.

Posts

  • davisdavis Posts: 2,505
    Does it sound a bit "funny" when first starting? A kind of sharp clatter?

    Dual Mass Flywheel failure would be my guess. It's how mine behaved.
    Sometimes parts break. Sometimes you crash. Sometimes it’s your fault.
  • me-109me-109 Posts: 1,427
    Dirty Mass Airflow Meter? Particularly if the filament/hot wire type. Gives a poor air inlet temp so the injectors give the wrong amount of fuel. Typically occurs in a cold engine but works fine when warm.

    Could also look at dirty injectors.

    Last one - fuel returns to tank overnight. When you first start do you wait for fuel lines to pressurise from the pump or just try to start immediately? Could be that there is insufficient fuel behind the injectors to allow an immediate start-up.
  • majormantramajormantra Posts: 2,094
    davis wrote:
    Does it sound a bit "funny" when first starting? A kind of sharp clatter?

    Dual Mass Flywheel failure would be my guess. It's how mine behaved.

    Not really. Apart from not starting on the first turn of the key any more, it sounds entirely normal to me. No clatters, bangs, or anything untoward.
  • majormantramajormantra Posts: 2,094
    Me-109 wrote:
    Dirty Mass Airflow Meter? Particularly if the filament/hot wire type. Gives a poor air inlet temp so the injectors give the wrong amount of fuel. Typically occurs in a cold engine but works fine when warm.

    Could also look at dirty injectors.

    Last one - fuel returns to tank overnight. When you first start do you wait for fuel lines to pressurise from the pump or just try to start immediately? Could be that there is insufficient fuel behind the injectors to allow an immediate start-up.

    Mass airflow meter? Isn't that on petrol models only? (I'm learning this as I go along...)

    Does turning the key to the II position pressurise the lines? I think I tried waiting, but can experiment more.
  • nicklousenicklouse Posts: 81,520 Lives Here
    glow plugs.

    check for current.

    check condition.
    "Do not follow where the path may lead, Go instead where there is no path, and Leave a Trail."
    Parktools :?:SheldonBrown
  • majormantramajormantra Posts: 2,094
    I'll check them, but I don't see how that fits with the pattern of poor starts. It starts from cold fine if it's been run that day.
  • davisdavis Posts: 2,505
    davis wrote:
    Does it sound a bit "funny" when first starting? A kind of sharp clatter?

    Dual Mass Flywheel failure would be my guess. It's how mine behaved.

    Not really. Apart from not starting on the first turn of the key any more, it sounds entirely normal to me. No clatters, bangs, or anything untoward.

    I'd bet a whole pound on that being the issue anyway. Watch out for your clutch going next.
    Sometimes parts break. Sometimes you crash. Sometimes it’s your fault.
  • majormantramajormantra Posts: 2,094
    Oh joy.
  • davis may be correct. I had a similar problem with a Focus of the same age and engine. The starting problem was fixed by replacing the starter motor. However a bit of research told me that the first signs of the dual mass flywheel going wrong are that it deposits iron filings which get into the starter motor causing that to fail. Hence your starting problem could be indications of something much more serious. I didn't wait to find out with mine, I traded it in after I had the initial repair of the starter motor.
  • majormantramajormantra Posts: 2,094
    I've read about that. Fingers crossed it isn't. I'm still clinging to the fact that it doesn't quite fit the pattern.
  • davisdavis Posts: 2,505
    Hmmm actually my 2003 Focus TerriblyDesignedCarImpression killed its DMF and clutch at 120k miles. It cost just under 700 quid to get a new single-piece aftermarket flywheel and clutch in.

    Good luck.
    Sometimes parts break. Sometimes you crash. Sometimes it’s your fault.
  • I've read about that. Fingers crossed it isn't. I'm still clinging to the fact that it doesn't quite fit the pattern.

    I meant to add a bit about that, I agree about it not sounding exactly the same pattern, I don't recall mine being better after the first start but it was a long time ago. Hope it's not as serious for you.
  • majormantramajormantra Posts: 2,094
    I hope so too!

    I think I'll probably need professional help to diagnose this, but I'm reluctant to throw cash at it since a)the car is perfectly usable as is and b)without a clearer idea of what's wrong, I can see a garage changing loads of parts without achieving anything.
  • VTechVTech Posts: 4,736
    Its hard to guess over the net but the flywheel is an option.
    The fact it always starts second time could also point to the air max meter as mentioned above or the EGR.
    A diagnosis shouldn't cost more than £40 and could save you a fortune on buying un-needed parts.
    Living MY dream.
  • orraloonorraloon Posts: 8,978
    nicklouse wrote:
    glow plugs.

    check for current.

    check condition.

    ^^ 2nd this. Had similar symptoms on my (non Ford) diesel and turned out 2 of the 4 glow plugs were not working.
  • VTechVTech Posts: 4,736
    orraloon wrote:
    nicklouse wrote:
    glow plugs.

    check for current.

    check condition.

    ^^ 2nd this. Had similar symptoms on my (non Ford) diesel and turned out 2 of the 4 glow plugs were not working.


    This is easy to self diagnose.

    Turn ignition on too full (sign on but not engine running)
    Hold there for 20 seconds and then turn fully to start engine.

    If engine now starts on the first turn it stands a good chance that the plugs need replacing.
    Living MY dream.
  • pinnopinno Posts: 42,752
    When a diesel engine is warm, it is always easier to start.

    A silly but not insignificant thing - Injector cleaner. 'Forte' is an excellent brand. Put it in the tank and drive it for a couple of hundred miles. Debris can cause sticky injectors and all sorts of problems. It's cheap and if it doesn't work, then nothing ventured, nothing gained.

    Maybe there is a problem with the return valve from the diesel pump and it takes a few turns of the engine to pressurise.
    The glow plug suggestion is probably top of the list.
    seanoconn - gruagach craic!
  • I had the same on a Jeep, turned out to be an air leak in the fuel system, crack in fuel filter body. System was having to prime itself on first start of the day.
  • majormantramajormantra Posts: 2,094
    Cheers for all the responses. I'm going to try a few things this weekend, will see how it goes...
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