2001 Ford Focus ZX3 hard start and stall problem.


Asked by Aug 27, 2013 at 12:26 AM about the 2001 Ford Focus ZX3

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

I seem to be coming across a hard start and stalling problem with my Focus. It is difficult to start, meaning it just won't grab or turn over when I go to start it. When it does, it has a hard time staying on, and just wants to stall. I am guessing it is the Idle Air Control Valve or the PCM. I have replaced my ignition coil and Alternator, Mass Air Flow sensor and battery and still no fix. What do you guys think?

21 Answers

intake air temp or IAT sensor~ combined with 02 readings can make it run iffy~needs to know how hot it is outside temp of the throttle and adjust making it too rich and chokin' the windpipe~ because of the age of the vehicle am going to suggest a new TPS as errant signals can make it run poopy (yes, I said poopy)~

6 out of 6 people think this is helpful.

Do you mean Throttle Position Sensor?

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

Sounds to me like the negative battery cable is full of corrosion at the point that it attaches to the rest of the car...get out a coarse wirebrush and really brush it shiny, both lug and the fender or chassis where it's connected to...this "brown power" has played hell with the performance of your ECU computer and will not behave itself until you get a NEW battery and clean with a wirebrush...as I have recommended~

yes....but scratch that....I hadn't fully realized the decrepitude of the system Ground.~ 'till you stop the connection from issuing varying voltages and varying available amperages, the "Brain Box" will be unstable...what I'm saying is with a NEW battery and sparky-fresh connections the world will start turning in the right direction~

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

TPS...the throttle position sensor is one of the principal devices where man meets machine through an electro-mechanical interface, that while supposed to be an optical device that would theoretically NEVER wear out, in reality crumbles like ALL plastics~


I already put in a new battery, and still no fix?

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.

It seems more like a fuel thing to be honest, but I'm not sure.

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.

yes...chokin' with excessive hydrocarbons...blackening your spark plugs...IAT and temp sensors should fix that, but look at the date of the batteries first charge as noted on the knock off labels on the top of the battery...five years and they will give you trouble~

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

that's because the other end of the black cable cannot make good~

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

you can make it good with a wirebrush on the spot where the lug attaches~

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

Replace your fuel filter then run a fuel pressure and flow test. Have the codes pulled, write them down then post then back here and we will try to help you on where to go with further diagnosis.

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.

the ECU is watching Fox News....and NOT getting the full picture...please enlighten your brain power by providing reliable grounding~


Tennisshoes how do I perform a fuel pressure flow test?

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.

Locate your fuel lines in the engine compartment, there should be a test fitting on the pressure line that a fuel pressure gauge will screw onto. You can purchase a fuel pressure tester unit at most parts stores. If you do buy one get the one that has a flow tester attachment.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

I am having the same issue. There is no valve for fuel pressure testing on my 2001 focus zx3 (zetec engine). I plugged in a scanner to read the fuel pressure. When the engine is cold, fuel pressure is around 45 psi. It drops to about 40 when warmed up. At idle, if I rev it, it drops to about 28 psi. When driving, if I floor it, it drops as low as 6psi. I replaced the filter, but there was no change in fuel pressure. Obviously it hesitates and wants to stall when the pressure drops that low. If the car is cold, it performs better. As it warms up, it gets worse. There is no pressure regulator, either. Based on the research I did, the computer tells the fuel pump how fast to run. It seems that either the computer is giving bad info to the pump, or the pump can't deliver at the speed being called for, especially when the engine is warm. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

3 out of 3 people think this is helpful.

Have had the recall done? There is a fuel sensor that acts like a regulator as it is suppose to vary the fuel pump for pressure demands, there is also a fuel damper on the fuel rail.

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

The fuel pressure regulator that connects to the very left side of the fuel rail is a $100 plus part that Ford doesn't have any of right now( supplier quality issue) I got one out of the junk yard off another Ztec engine. No more hard starts and rough idle or stalls. Tricky R&R , study the attaching clips carefully, have to remove fuel rail and that might be more "O" rings. Cyl pressure should be in the 200lbs range, mine were 195-203.. The eng check light said #2 cyl issue, misleading HUh?

2 out of 2 people think this is helpful.

similiar issue with my 01' Focus wagon. Tech' said it was an "airbox issue" did some adjusting...for free but 2 months later same stalling has occured. Drove 160 miles testerday and it was fine but today...same stalling. Did younsay there is a Ford call back?

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

I am having a similar is issue, I have had the oil cover gasket, plugs, wires, radiator hose, & battery replaced... and my car when I drive it for a certain amount of time go home, park, I go to turn it on it will cut right back off, and I know its not the fuel pump cause I replaced that and the filter less than a year ago, I know its not my alternator cause its not showing signs that it is bad, my mechanic said it was my fuel rail sensor thing, I just want to be for sure so I don't have to worry about getting stuck somewhere anymore, I need help more like opinions lol.


I had a similar problem in June/July of 2015 and the solution was simple however quite a nuisance to remedy. It's a fuel issue, I lowered the fuel tank, removed the fuel pump assembly and inspected the fuel strainer, the first line of defense in keeping foreign objects out of the fuel injectors. If you have run out of gas and used a Jerry Can it's likely how the debris got there in the first place. I found a moderate amount of black goo, sludge, grime, whatever you want to call it, crud. I simply washed the strainer off with "methyl hydrate" and ensured the tank was free of other contaminates. Since then I've haven't had any issues with fuel delivery unto to this point. However I have a new problem, I suspect it's a fuel issues again, this time I suspect it's a plugged fuel filter but I won't know until I replace it and cut the old one open with a hacksaw. For what it's worth I've truly enjoyed my 2000 Focus SE, the power train is a 2.0 Liter DOHC (Zetec) automatic transmission, FWD, no traction control or ABS brakes but it's fun for a small domestic car with reasonable fuel economy and ample trunk space for my audio system.


Hi my names Ana and I have a 2001 xterra and it experiencing hard cold start I live in Texas so not really cold .. It'll eventually start up n when it's warm it starts up no problems .. New fuel pump fuel sending unit fuel filter new fuel pump relay ... Tps is new as well as new water pump timing belt n distributor ... I'm at wits end to what the problem is .. Any help would be awesome .. Only codes are p0420 and knock sensor

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