I have a 2003 Ford Ka, Duratec engine, 34000 miles on the clock.
Set off this morning (with a full tank of petrol). About 25 miles or so, driving along at about 50 mph, I started noticing what I would describe as a very slight "kangaroo petrol" effect - i.e. the car would feel like it was hesitating slightly and then surge forward slightly. And I mean 'slightly'. It was so slight as to make me wonder at first if it was my imagination. It didn't do it constantly, but continued to do it on an off.
About 50 miles later, the Engine Warning Light went on. This has never happened before. The handbook says "If [the Engine Warning Light] illuminates with the engine running, it indicates a malfunction. Have it checked by your dealer as soon as possible."
Obviously I will be taking it to the dealer, but has anyone any idea what the fault might be?
03 1.3 Engine problem (Duratec) -
Andrew Moorey (Tune-Up)
Firstly get the ecu memory checked for DTC (Diagnostic Trouble Codes)I would suggest that you have a lazy O2 (Lambda or HEGO) sensor. At a steady speed the sensor is switching between 'go rich' and 'go lean' slowly enough to be persceptible as the power drops off with the lean mixture then picks up when it 'goes rich'.
These sensors are easily tested with even the most basic of voltmeters or oscilloscope and at a fast idle (2000 rpm) should be switching at a minimum of 60Hz (once per second). These sensors are a consumable item and are affected by oil fumes from infrequent servicing or antifreeze from a failing gasket and recently the supermarket fuel contamination 'killed' literally thousands of these sensors. Fit only a genuine sensor if yours proves to be faulty.
Right, I've had it checked out. Apparently it is a faulty injector. However the Ford dealer in Inverness didn't have any Ka injectors in stock, so I drove the car home, and will bring in back another day. (At moments like this I envy people who only live 20 or 30 miles from a Ford dealer, for whom a trip to get a vehicle repaired isn't an all-day event.) To my great relief, the engine behaved perfectly all the way home - so the fault appears to be somewhat intermittent.
A few questions.
1) Is an injector going wrong at 34,000 mile unusual?
2) What are the factors that might cause an injector to fail prematurely?
3) Are there any particular risks to the engine if I continue to drive around with a suspect injector?
My mum has a StreetKa (1.6 litre version of this engine) and had similar problems. Spent getting on for a grand at a trusted indie who couldn't get to the bottom of it. An hour in a Ford dealer, a new coil pack and catalyst (the latter wrecked by driving around with a faulty former) later, and the car has driven perfectly ever since.
You are doing the right thing staying in the dealer network with this engine. It seems hideously intolerant of pattern parts and unofficial diagnostic tools.
The bad news is that I didn't actually take it to the dealer. I went to an independent who happens to be just down the road from the dealer, and he, having ascertained that the problem was an injector, contacted the dealer.
He's pretty sure that it is an injector because the fault code told him it was the number 4 injector, and he changed over the number 2 and 4 injectors, and the diagnostic told him it was the number 2. I hope he's right. On the positive side, for the last 90 miles the vehicle has been running faultlessly.