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Engine "skip" in 03 Ford Focus (bonus question - side mirror broken)

DelzhandDelzhand Hard to miss.Registered User regular
edited March 2010 in Help / Advice Forum
I noticed a while ago that if I'm sitting in my car at a full stop, sometimes I feel... I dunno... a skip? Like the engine misses a beat or something. Sometimes its perceptible while driving, too. The car doesn't stall out or anything, but I destroyed my first car by not paying attention to warning signs. Based on my almost zero knowledge of motor vehicles, I suspect a belt problem, but I thought I'd get some advice so if I take it into a shop I don't sound like a no-nothing sucker.

Also, someone broke off my side mirror. It was hanging by a little wire that I think connects to the adjuster knob. The enclosure is just fine, but there's sort of a plate between the enclosure and the car door that is visibly broken - half of it is attached to the mirror, half to the door. How hard would this be to fix on my own? It looks like I can get a whole mirror for ~$30 online.

Delzhand on

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    dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    I vote Spark Plug.

    dispatch.o on
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    illigillig Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    honestly, you don't sound too car savvy, and any advice we can give you will be pure conjecture

    there can be lots of things causing a misfire... from fouled spark plugs, to wires, to coil, to all other ignition components... it could also be a temporary fuel condition, or a vacuum leak, or lots of other issues....

    the point is, that unless you know what you're doing, you can spend lots of time replacing good parts (and thus wasting money).... so it's well worth it to pay a mechanic for a diagnosis... find a reputable shop, and get them do tell you what exactly is wrong

    as for the mirror, yeah, it should be a 15 minute job to replace... usually you have to remove a plastic trim piece on the inside of the door, undo a plug (if power) or a small knob (if manual) and 3 or so bolts, and the mirror assembly will come out... reverse the steps to install the replacement.

    it's worth buying a junkyard mirror that's already painted the correct color rather than having a new one painted, just FYI

    illig on
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    Zul the ConquerorZul the Conqueror Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    For finding a mechanic, I recommend http://www.cartalk.com/content/mechx/find.html. Search on your zip code, look for a shop with a decent number of ratings/surveys, etc. You're more likely to find a reputable mechanic that way than by just going through the yellow pages.

    Zul the Conqueror on
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    BeltaineBeltaine BOO BOO DOO DE DOORegistered User regular
    edited March 2010
    I would start with replacing spark plugs and wires. If you've never had them replaced, and you have 50k miles or more, it needs to be done anyway.

    The mirror should also be an easy fix. If it looks like it's still intact and just the mounting plate has broken, you should be able to swing by the dealership and pick up the broken part fairly inexpensively. They'll charge you their insane labor rates if you have them put the mirror back on for you though.

    Beltaine on
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    PSN: Beltaine-77 | Steam: beltane77 | Battle.net BadHaggis#1433
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    OliverOliver Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    Third vote for spark plug replacement. Probably a good idea to replace the wires too, as I believe they generally start to get iffy before the plugs do. Its a very easy fix to do, and if you decide to do it you should be able to complete it all for under $70 or so in parts from your local autozone or whatever you have in your area. Even if you don't want to take the job on yourself, its a common enough thing that I'm sure you have a friend or family member who has done it before.

    My fiancee's car was having what sounds like the same trouble (its a 2001 Focus coincidentally), I replaced the plugs and wires and we haven't noticed the engine skip since.

    edit: grammar

    Oliver on
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    AstrocookieAstrocookie __BANNED USERS regular
    edited March 2010
    I would start by not using the shittiest fucking fuel for sale.


    Seriously, you need to use a fuel with a higher octane. What you are experiencing is probably engine knocking, which is attributed to your fuel failing to ignite under compression.

    Use premium gas and see if the problem goes away. If it does, use that forever.

    Astrocookie on
    .
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    BeltaineBeltaine BOO BOO DOO DE DOORegistered User regular
    edited March 2010
    There's no need to use fuel of a higher octane than what is recommended by the manufacturer. It's printed right on the fuel cap of newer cars.

    I really doubt your Focus recommends anything higher than regular grade. Unless you're not in the U.S. and are driving one of the turbocharged versions.

    Beltaine on
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    PSN: Beltaine-77 | Steam: beltane77 | Battle.net BadHaggis#1433
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    Count FunkulaCount Funkula Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    Just throwing in my vote for checking the spark plugs and wires. If it hasn't ever been done, and your car is an '03, it really needs to be done anyway.

    As far as the premium gas, that would not help. There is no advantage to putting premium gas in a car that does not require it. (Most cars do not.) The 87 octane gas has all of the same detergents and other additives that the premium gas does, and you will just be burning money away by putting in the more expensive gasoline.

    Check this link for more info:

    http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2565/whats-the-difference-between-premium-and-regular-gas

    Count Funkula on
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    Shoe-EaterShoe-Eater Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    Beltaine beat me to it.

    Unless your driving a Sports car or a vehicle with a high performance engine, there will be no improvement from using premium fuel. Modern cars are designed to make efficient use of regular fuel, as a matter of fact using premium fuel in a engine not designed for it can actually do more harm than good.

    Also i second/third the sparkplugs/wires

    Shoe-Eater on
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    LaPuzzaLaPuzza Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    Take it to a service shop - find one by suggestion/experience to not get robbed. More likely than not, though, you've got a plug that's not sparking I'd say. That means that you're not getting ignition occasionally, which is why you think you're missing a beat. That's as opposed to the engine always not producing enough power, which could be a ton of things.

    Look at your manual and your odometer. If its time for new plugs, use the fialure of the first one as an excuse to change em all if that's the problem. I'll defer to more expert opinion, but it could be time for new spark plug wires too.

    Without knowing more, and given that I don't think you're looking to do a ton of DIY work, the only fix-my-engine home remedy I can suggest is some fuel injector cleaner. If you can fill your gas tank you can use that stuff. just read the label and you're good to go.

    LaPuzza on
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    KryptykSolKryptykSol Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    logging in to correct misinformation!

    engine knocking is cause by fuel igniting before the spark plug goes off, and it can be extremely harmful to an engine, the good news is, it really doesnt happen at idle, so its probably not your issue. I would have to agree with previous posters, new spark plugs are in order, if that doesnt fix the problem, I would look at other things that can cause ignition issues (dying coil pack, bad plug wires, etc)

    However, there is a chance that it is just a normal engine vibration, sometimes engines just do that, and Ford isnt known for making super smooth engines in the first place. It could be that coupled with slightly older (and weaker) engine mounts.

    <RANT>

    Also, while running higher octane gasoline wont hurt your car, its still not a very good idea, because it costs more. The octane rating of gasoline is a measurement of how difficult it is to burn, so the higher the number, the more resistant it is to burning (and thus to the aforementioned detonation issue) so it really only should be run in cars where detonation is a issue, turbocharged cars, high performance naturally aspirated engines, etc. You will probably also see less fuel mileage and worse emissions burning higher octane gas, because it is harder to burn, so less of it burns (this will be marginal, its really not worth worrying about).

    Do not believe the people who tell you you get more power or better gas mileage, that is a good example of the placebo effect, people pay more for something and then think that because they payed more, its better. An engine has to be designed and tuned to take advantage of higher octane gas.

    My apologies for the wall of text, but the misinformation the gas companies print to make people buy high octane gas is just shy of lying to you, and it always gets my goat when I see it.

    </RANT>

    KryptykSol on
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    wmelonwmelon Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    Delzhand wrote: »
    Also, someone broke off my side mirror. It was hanging by a little wire that I think connects to the adjuster knob. The enclosure is just fine, but there's sort of a plate between the enclosure and the car door that is visibly broken - half of it is attached to the mirror, half to the door. How hard would this be to fix on my own? It looks like I can get a whole mirror for ~$30 online.

    Since the first part of your question has been adequately answered, I figured I'd chime in on this. If you can handle a screw driver and have a basic set of socket wrenches you can most definitely handle replacing the entire mirror assembly. The most difficult part of it will be taking the interior panels off the door to get to the bolts/nuts that hold the mirror to the door.

    wmelon on
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    DelzhandDelzhand Hard to miss. Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    Cool. I'm taking it in to a place today with some good reviews online.

    For what it's worth, I live in Iowa, where mid-grade is cheaper than low grade on account of ethanol subsidies (or something). The engine isn't "knocking", it's just a barely perceptible hiccup that usually happens when the it's cold/wet and the car has only been running for a few minutes.

    Delzhand on
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    badpoetbadpoet Registered User regular
    edited March 2010
    It's probably either a spark plug or, more likely, a spark plug wire (the cold/we things leads me that direction). A tune-up will probably cure it.

    badpoet on
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