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2003 Ford Escape Question: Ford Escape runs poorly after it rains

 

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Roosky30, 3.0L V6, Cedar Rapids, IA, August 31, 2010, 14:46
 Rookie

My Escape runs poorly sometimes after it rains. I've taken the car to 3 mechanics now and have had the exhaust system replaced from the front catalytic converters all the way to the tailpipe. It doesn't happen every time. It idles rough and has no power. The engine light comes on sometimes but no codes show up on diagnostic. First time, I replaced the catalytic converter under passenger seat-worked fine for 6 months. Second time replaced both front converters-worked fine 5 months. Third time had muffler replaced and all other exhaust parts not brand new-went 3 months without a problem. Now today it rains heavily and back to square one. Every other time it's happened after a heavy rain and there is water coming from the tailpipe immediately after starting it up. Any ideas?

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  • Answer #1

    August 31, 2010, 15:45
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     Master

    not sure what any exhaust repairs had to do with your issue. it would be all the time, rain or shine. anyway, there are several tsb available on coil and ecm problems with this model for poor running in wet weather. you need a better shop that can help you.

    Roy

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    Visitor, September 01, 2010, 08:52

    The first time it happened, I drilled a hole into the pipe directly in front of the rear catalytic converter. Although loud, it did allow the car to be driven to the shop. One of the shops was the local Ford dealer/service center and the other two were independents. I park on a bit of a slope and it doesn't happen every time it rains, just seems to be heavy rains and if the car was sitting for a day or two in the rain. I see many other issues similar to this online, most ranging from coils, faulty PCM/ECM. I've already spent about $2000 on the issue and it's still there. Can't imagine what new coils, plugs, wires and a PCM/ECM would cost.

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    Visitor, May 03, 2011, 06:48

    I'm having the same issue with my 2003 ford escape....did you find out the problem?

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    Visitor, May 03, 2011, 07:51

    Yes I think I finally did. Knock on wood but the problem has not returned. I ended up having all of the ignition coils replaced, my mechanic discovered the faulty coils by spraying them with a little water while the engine. There were cracks in the coils themselves and when wet it was causing arcing. Hope this helps. I should mention that all catalytic converters were replaced too.

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    Peaches2, May 03, 2011, 09:16
     Rookie

    Great! Thank you very much..converters are expensive :(

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    Baldfatguy, May 22, 2011, 10:16
     Enthusiast

    I have had this problem many many times after rain and the vehicle not being run for that day. I have replaced 3 ignition coils so far (at various intervals) and that seems to solve the problem for a time. I have never replaced any exhaust components.

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  • Answer #2

    Visitor, June 03, 2011, 05:04

    Did u have all your coil packages checked?

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    edvicheck, September 23, 2012, 12:46
     Rookie

    I had the same problem. I took it to my friends shop for inspection and the cat coming out of manifold was bad so I had to take it to the ford dealer and they put it on their diagnostics machine and it showed the packs were bad so they changed them along with the cat. ran well for a week and the first heavy rain caused the same problem. Still runs like crap and the emissions light wont go off. I have to start the car 15 minutes before I want to drive it. I will never buy another Ford until they improve their product.
    Oh by the way, it took almost 4 months to get the cat because Ford didn't have any, and had to get an aftermarket made. Go figure.

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  • Answer #3

    March 04, 2012, 08:25
     Rookie

    my car act like it not getting enough gas once it start it runs fine until i stop at a light i had the idle air control valve change

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  • Medium-star Best Answer
    February 02, 2013, 15:14
     Rookie

    2001 Ford Escape, 3.0 V6, AWD/4x4
    262,000 miles
    Original motor and transmission
    Yeah, I know. These high miles impress me.

    I had the same problem and fixed it. Engine was running absolutely horrible after washing the car. I poured a bucket of water over the windshield with the hood open. The water ran down into the engine. I lightly splashed some water in the front engine area to rinse. Next day after doing this, I started the engine. The check engine light was flashing, and it had a horrible miss, shuddering and making a strange noise from the intake. It sounded like an old 4 cyl John Deere tractor with 2 pistons not firing, and one with a hole in it. Was horrible.

    What I did to fix it:
    Removed the intake plenum, removed all 6 coil packs, rubber boots, and connecting springs.
    What I found:
    4 out of 6 spark plug tubes were full of water.

    The design behind these engines is good but, not good for water shedding. Water can easily collect on top of the engine heads which have a cover that allows water to collect and run right into the spark plug tubes. I also noticed that fancy cover that is over the front of the engine will actually help collect water. The cooling fans, since they are pullers, will actually pull rain or water that enters the front of the car, and push it RIGHT into the motor and the plastic cover will deflect it down directly where the spark plugs are!
    Depending on how much rain you get, and how fast you drive, more water/air will be forced RIGHT INTO that area!! It would be better to take that cosmetic thing off so at least it won't act like a hood scoop, forcing air/rain water right into where the spark plugs are, where water cannot run away. If your engine is warm enough, I suppose it could dry off before being sucked back into the motor but, if it's a cold rainy day, or blowing snow which collects in the motor, I can see water collecting in those spark plugs tubes every time.

    Once you have water in these areas, the water gets sucked back down into those spark plug tubes as the engine cools off. The water won't leave those tubes because of the rubber boot. It's like a minnow trap. I discovered the spring connectors corroded/rusted and oxidized. The aluminum cylinder heads which house the spark plugs, I call tubes were also corroded. I cleaned off the springs, scraped off the rust and corrosion, used pressurized air to dry the tubes out further and let them set for a bit to make sure.
    I reassembled everything, started it back up and it was like a whole different car. Not a single issue whatsoever. No engine light, no shuddering, no strange sounds. Smooth as silk.

    So, water got into those 4 spark plug tubes, shorted the spark plugs, made it run rich, which you could smell. The intake plenum and manifold were both inside coated with fuel.

    If I had not poured water over the motor I would have been ok. If I had this happen again, after a rain storm, it would be fairly easy to just take the 3 spark plug coil packs/rubber inserts/springs out and dry it out. It won't happen again though, pouring water over the motor. Thought spraying water was a bad idea because of the forcing of water into areas. But, in this case, only pouring water onto a Ford Escape, or Mercury Mariner, or Mazda Tribute engine will cause this. Probably only the V6 too, because of the turned motor.

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    sagman1, May 02, 2014, 11:18
     Rookie

    Hi, I know this post is pretty old, but taking a chance you're still around. I'm having that same problem with a 2002 Mazda Tribute failing after it rains. However, I don't want to have to take the engine cover off and dry out sparkplug tubes everytime it rains. Any other suggestions on how to prevent this problem? Thanks

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    Roosky30, May 02, 2014, 11:29
     Rookie

    You might try having the spark plug tubes replaced, otherwise have someone look at the coils. Neither are terribly expensive repairs.

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    nodakgaragedoor, May 03, 2014, 21:43
     Rookie

    My suggestion would be to take the plastic cover off that would seem to funnel air/moisture into those spark plug tubes. Also, creating some kind of deflecting cover to block the electric fan air path into that area. That was going to be part of the solution for my car but, I sold mine before getting to that. One other thought I had was to actually make a hole in the area of the boot that seals off the spark plug tube so that moisture can escape/evaporate from engine heat during and after.

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  • Answer #5

    February 07, 2013, 14:27
     Rookie

    Try changing the ignition coils. We had the same problem with ours and that is what we did and it has been working fine ever since.

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    nodakgaragedoor, February 07, 2013, 19:33
     Rookie

    This is for a wet condition. If a mechanic replaces the coils, they will possibly find water in the spark plug tubes, clean them out, and probably not say anything except that yep, the coils were bad. It runs great now. Coils don't go bad often enough to cause these issues. The coils on my Escape have been on the engine for 262,000 miles, and 12+ years.

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  • Answer #6

    April 12, 2013, 17:00
     Rookie

    I have a 2001 escaspe with 170,000 I have been dealing with this issue for over 2 years now (on and off) I have changed 3 of 6 coils AND the cat converter. (Not all at the same time) Just picked my car up last week after changing 2 coils and it down poured this morning check engine light on and flashing, going out to break at work after the rain stopped and it runs completly fine and no lights on. The shop said bring it back in its most likely another coil ...

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    nodakgaragedoor, April 12, 2013, 18:56
     Rookie

    Don't have them replace the coils. It isn't the coils if this happens after a rain. Think about what I wrote above. You have water collecting in the spark plug tubes. These coil packs don't go bad like this. This escape I have, has 262,000 miles, same coil packs. Apparently they aren't telling you about the water in the spark plug tubes. :-/

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    Schmeg, April 12, 2013, 19:13
     Rookie

    Yea I should have googled sooner, I didn't think anyone else was having an issue like this, just thought it was my luck, thanks for the help I'm def taking it elsewhere from here on out :)

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  • Answer #7

    June 03, 2014, 12:12
     Rookie

    Evidently the moisture problems go on I bought my 2004 escape with169000 miles on it in may it runs great accept when moisture is introduced. Before I could leave the dealer the first day it had been raining for 3 days in a row. Started it up and it shuddered and engine light comes on.dealer said they put 1 coil and 1 plug in it and I was off.until it rained for 2 days and same problem all over again.seems pretty obvious reading all the previous comments that poor design is to blame. However I want to know how to remedy it, sounds like an air hole for venting wood help a lot but mine acts up without being driven just parked. No water has to be forced in just in the air to affect it. I would also like to know how to turn off engine light now that moisture is gone and it's running normal

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    nodakgaragedoor, June 03, 2014, 15:27
     Rookie

    The best remedy would probably be to seal off those spark plug tubes on the front. I bet they replaced a spark plug and coil on the front. Easy money job. Probably blew out the water and sent it along. The other solution could be to put a hole in the top of the boot so moisture can escape. To get rid of the engine light, the cheapest way is to disconnect the battery terminal for a few hours to let the computer and codes reset on their own. Good luck!

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    Complap, June 05, 2014, 22:11
     Rookie

    I fixed the same problem recently on my own Ford Escape and did it myself. Instead of replacing coils one by one over the course of many months, it is much easier to replace them all at once, along with the spark plugs if they are also old (not necessarily related to this issue, but not a bad idea to replace). Many would not agree with this tactic, but it saves you paying many times more than you otherwise would on labor and many more trips to a repair shop. I picked up all six coils for a little over $400, and the labor only took a few hours. It seems that over time, as this only seems to happen to Escapes with some miles behind them, the ignition coils just wear down and become less resistant to invasive substances like water. Therefore, I fully endorse footing the bill and replacing all six at once, and doing it yourself if you have any technical know-how. The hardest part is removing the intake manifold, but a guide for that can be found here at www.justanswer.com/uploads/molurch/2008-07-09_153625_escape.pdf

    My rough engine running was caused by heavy amounts of rain, and solved by replacing the ignition coils and the very old spark plugs. My evidence for ignition coils simply going bad over time is due to another Ford I owned with the same coil ignition system, when I had to replace a single coil about once per month for a few months, which became beyond annoying. I eventually replaced all remaining old coils, and the problem ceased to exist. I respect nodakgaragedoor's insight, but I believe many of his claims about the ignition coils not being the problem could possibly be incorrect, specifically because the water entering the spark plug cylinders could be caused by the ignition coils being old, not only poor engine design (which surely plays into it). Good luck to anyone else headed down this road! I hope I travel it rarely in the future.

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