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Butler MacMaster

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  1. #1
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    Default Water in Spark Plug Wells!

    Last Friday morning, I started up my 2000 Focus (SE - Zetec) for my short morning commute and noted that the engine seemed to be running rough. The car had been driven the night before and ran normally. The night was cool and misty and during the night, the temperature dropped to below freezing, so the grass was white and there was a thin layer of frost on the car when I started it. After cleaning off the frost, I took off down the street and noted the engine wasn't running quite right, but I arrived at the office without significant trouble. I guessed that there might have been some moisture that had gotten into something (sensor or ignition module) and figured that maybe in the daytime heating, the problem would clear itself.

    After work, I got back in the car and, to my chagrin, the rough performance persisted.

    The next time I got in the car was to drive to the airport to drop off my daughter. I took the Focus because I thought the longer ride might clear out whatever was causing the problem, or would trigger the computer to record a diagnostic code. Well, about half way to the airport, the condition got significantly worse. Now the engine felt like it was running only on three cylinders. The check engine light started flashing furiously.

    At this point, I was committed to completing the trip, so I pushed on to the airport. When I arrived and parked the car, there was a smell coming from the engine . . . it wasn't oil and it wasn't antifreeze. I popped the hood
    and noticed steam whisping from one of the spark plug boots.

    I pulled out the spark plug boot and, to my surprise, there was water on the head that was deep enough to fill each spark plug well and bridge from cylinder to cylinder!

    I let the car cool for a while and then went about trying to wick out the water with paper towel. I couldn't get the paper towel down into the spark plug wells, so I used the pump from a window cleaner spray bottle to pump out the last of the rusty water. When all of the water was out, I
    reconnected the spark plug boots and the engine started and ran perfectly.

    When I got back from the airport, I once again pulled a spark plug boot and looked inside. I found what I expected to see, a completely dry head. But I also noticed that the spark plug boot was fully covered in rust from the water that had been standing inside.

    Has anyone else experienced a problem like this? I can't imaging where so much water could have come from or how long it could have been there. I would have thought that the head gets hot enough to drive off any moisture that might condense in this area!

  2. #2
    I Now Post Stupid **** Jibberish18's Avatar
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    Default Re: Water in Spark Plug Wells!

    What kind of spark plug wires do you have? I only ask this because some boots don't go all the way down and maybe moisture could've collected in there? But either way that is some scary stuff. how could water collect in there?

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Water in Spark Plug Wells!

    These are the original spark plug wires. The boots, and particularly the seal rings at the top are still in good condition . . . soft and pliable.

    I have, on at least one occasion cleaned (sprayed down) the engine bay, but that was months ago . . . and at the time, I made sure the plug boots were tight and and only lightly sprayed the area of the plug boots. I must confess that at the time, I didn't pull a boot to ensure no water got inside, but given how rusty the water was, it must have been there a while. But then, I would expect water would evaporate quickly from the heat of the head. I'm stumped.

  4. #4
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    Mar 2003
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    Default Re: Water in Spark Plug Wells!

    I had the same problem occur about a month ago. Finally took it to the dealer who charged me almost $300 to suck water out of the spark plug wells & replace wires & plugs.

    About a month before this, I had hosed off the engine after spraying it with Simple Green. This is the only thing I can think of that could have caused this problem. From now on, I'll just have a dirty engine!

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Water in Spark Plug Wells!

    Epilogue (I hope) to the water in the spark plug story.

    After having pumped out the water from the spark plug wells and re-installing the spark plug boots, the car ran well for the most part, but it started intermittently hesitating and missing again in the next two days. Last night, I removed all of the spark plug wires/boots, cleaned the area of excessive rust (yeah, I knowingly poured water back in there), pumped the water and rust back out and then dried the area. I pulled the spark plugs and took the plugs and wires inside for a thorough cleaning.

    Conductive rust had coated both the boots (inside and out) and the exterior of the spark plugs and that was apparently providing an alternate path for the current to flow, instead of jumping the plug gap.

    I removed the rust, dried everything, installed the plugs, put silicone on the boots and installed them, and then drove off for about a half-hour. The engine ran as smooth as can be.

    Now if I can only figure out where that water came from . . .

  6. #6
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    Feb 2004
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    Default Re: Water in Spark Plug Wells!

    It is possiable that the freeze plug down inside the head may be leaking, ive seen this in a few other zetecs before. if you look to the left of the spark plug in the pic you see the plug im talking about. its either this or water getting in from rain or so other source.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Water in Spark Plug Wells!

    If the source is from the plug, the water should have a definite green coolant tint to it. I have seen water in my plug wells a few times, always right after washing the engine bay. Seems that the tops of the boots don't really seal at the valve cover at all...

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Water in Spark Plug Wells!

    I recently picked up my Focus, I was down my friends house and we were checking it out and I pulled one of my plug wires. There wasnt any water, but there was rust just like you said was in yours. Im guessing the dealer must have steam cleaned the engine (because it is squeaky clean). I guess I am gonna have to work on cleanin mine out too.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Water in Spark Plug Wells!

    This scares the bajeebus out of me.

    I was my engine frequently.

    I'm running out to check mine right now.


    Is there anything we can create that would prevent this from occouring?

  10. #10
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    Dec 2005
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    Default Re: Water in Spark Plug Wells!

    Sorry for bringing back an old post but i had this same thing happen to me last winter. I cleaned it all out and has worked just fine until to night. I was goin to get somethig to eat and made it about 1/2 mile up the road from my house. Went to make a turn and a loud pop and instantanly no power and checked engine like flashing crazy. Turned it around just barely make it to the garage pop the hood and it blew off two spark plugwires and one of the plugs came out. It doesnt look like it took the treads out of the head. Has this happened to anyone before?

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Water in Spark Plug Wells!

    The only cause I've ever seen for water in the plug wells is from washing the engine.

    Otherwise you'd have to submerge the car in a lake to get water in there.
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  12. #12
    I Now Post Stupid **** Jibberish18's Avatar
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    Default Re: Water in Spark Plug Wells!

    e only cause I've ever seen for water in the plug wells is from washing the engine.

    Otherwise you'd have to submerge the car in a lake to get water in there.
    __________________
    Yeah. Almost every case I've hear on this forum, someone has mentioned they power washed their engine.
    "If You Never Had The Bad Times, How Would You Know You Had The Good Times?" -DEATH


  13. #13
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    Default Re: Water in Spark Plug Wells!

    Hi, my first time here. Just reading about problems with water in spark plug wells, and I know of 2 people with the same problem on the 2005 model focus, and 1 with the same thing on a 2006 fiesta. The engines were not washed in any way, and I was wondering, is the water coming from the cooling system? Also, I noted that the water is not always there. Does anybody out there know what exactly is going on here? The water was very deep on 1 of the focus's, but funny enough, did not affect the performance. ?????????????? How??

  14. #14
    Super Moderators GapBoyPCS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Water in Spark Plug Wells!

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr.Bont
    Hi, my first time here. Just reading about problems with water in spark plug wells, and I know of 2 people with the same problem on the 2005 model focus, and 1 with the same thing on a 2006 fiesta. The engines were not washed in any way, and I was wondering, is the water coming from the cooling system? Also, I noted that the water is not always there. Does anybody out there know what exactly is going on here? The water was very deep on 1 of the focus's, but funny enough, did not affect the performance. ?????????????? How??
    It's hard to say.

    That being said, if you know of someone with an 06 Fiesta with that problem, why isn't that person going back to their Ford dealership for a warranty claim (provided they are still under warranty coverage)?
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  15. #15
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    Default Re: Water in Spark Plug Wells!

    I had a similar thing happen. The passenger side of the plastic coolant crossover pipe thing split open and puked about a gallon or gallon and a half of coolant all over the engine bay. Lots of it found its way down where the plugs were. I dried it out with paper towels and re-greased the inside of the boots and its been fine, though I do want to change plugs and wires.


 
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