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Old 11-19-2014, 08:07 AM
 
Location: Las Vegas, NV
2,761 posts, read 2,265,310 times
Reputation: 4794

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Hello C-D car experts... hoping maybe some out there can maybe figure out what just happened this morning to my car! I'm in "worst-case scenario mode".

It's a 2003 Ford Focus and it's got roughly 120,000 miles on it so she's weathered. I notice too that she seems to do rather poorly with cold weather the last few years and with the arctic blast we've been receiving it seems no different (not sure if this could be any cause or just coincidence).

With that said, I started my car this morning and when the engine turned over it was really loud... just didn't start normally. Seconds later I smelled smoke and then noticed white smoke starting to come out of the sides. I immediately turned the car off...

Upon opening hood and quickly inspecting I can definitely see it was smoking but couldn't pin-point from where and couldn't really notice anything... luckily no actual fires!

I waited 5 minutes and figured I'd try again just to see what happened and when it started it all of a sudden was making this horrible screeching/squealing noise. It almost sounded as if it could be belt trouble?

So.. at the moment I'm SOL until the dealership opens that takes car of our cars and from there arranging for a tow, so thought maybe I could seek if anyone may know what it could possibly be? A. so I can sound like I know what I'm talking about when asked what's happening, and B. to figure out if this is possibly a costly fix or even a fix worth doing on an older car on it's last legs.

Thanks all!
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Old 11-19-2014, 08:35 AM
 
Location: Connecticut
470 posts, read 1,205,292 times
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1. Don't take it to the dealership. Find an independent shop with good reviews in your area. You will save a ton of money that way.

2. Squealing is most likely the belt. I would guess something has seized causing the belt to not spin that pulley. The common component to seize is the AC compressor. Is your AC switched on by any chance? If it is, turn it off. On a 2003 focus it will also automatically turn on with defrost setting on the HVAC. Switch that to Off.

120,000 miles on a 2003 focus is not a lot of mile. If it has been taken care of you have quite a bit of life left in it.
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Old 11-19-2014, 08:48 AM
 
Location: Las Vegas, NV
2,761 posts, read 2,265,310 times
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Thanks for the reply jaydez...

1. We are actually taking it to independent shop instead, tow truck will be around by lunchtime to pick it up.

2. The squealing definitely made me think belt... and the AC is definitely not on... actually the heat is all the way up and it was in defrost mode. Speaking of heat... that hasn't even been working so it's been killing me with the cold.


I'd like to think we've been taking care of the car just fine... no major issues have come up during it's life so we're probably hitting that point where things are starting to go on it. So... hopefully this isn't such a bad repair and there's no other underlying issues.
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Old 11-19-2014, 09:19 AM
 
Location: East of Seattle since 1992, originally from SF Bay Area
28,549 posts, read 50,991,611 times
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Was it actually smoke, or perhaps steam from burning coolant, which would be white with a sweet smoke smell. If the latter, it could be that the coolant was beyond it's life and the extreme cold caused a cracked block or head. Squeaky belts are common in extreme cold but that noise could also be from coolant getting into the belt or pulleys. Good luck, hopefully something more minor, and please post when you have an explanation/estimate.
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Old 11-19-2014, 09:23 AM
 
13,628 posts, read 16,192,249 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by psurangers11 View Post

The squealing definitely made me think belt... and the AC is definitely not on... actually the heat is all the way up and it was in defrost mode. Speaking of heat... that hasn't even been working so it's been killing me with the cold.

I agree that it is very likely to be the serpentine belt, and that the likely cause is that something seized. If you are lucky, it is just one of the idler pulleys. If you're not lucky, it might be the A/C compressor.

As jaydez correctly noted, your A/C compressor IS activated when you turn the HVAC system to the defrost setting.

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Old 11-19-2014, 09:29 AM
 
4,762 posts, read 10,312,558 times
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Was it below freezing?

Do you have anti-freeze in the radiator or just water?
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Old 11-19-2014, 10:19 AM
 
Location: Las Vegas, NV
2,761 posts, read 2,265,310 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Billy_J View Post
Was it below freezing?

Do you have anti-freeze in the radiator or just water?
Well below freezing.. admittedly it's just water. I noticed my engine running hot last week and I never made it to the store to buy coolant, I didn't even think about that being an issue and cause of problem.

I feel like a dunce now for being lazy and neglectful... and now it could potentially be costly. I need to have the repair shop put coolant in ASAP.
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Old 11-19-2014, 10:21 AM
 
Location: Las Vegas, NV
2,761 posts, read 2,265,310 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hemlock140 View Post
Was it actually smoke, or perhaps steam from burning coolant, which would be white with a sweet smoke smell. If the latter, it could be that the coolant was beyond it's life and the extreme cold caused a cracked block or head. Squeaky belts are common in extreme cold but that noise could also be from coolant getting into the belt or pulleys. Good luck, hopefully something more minor, and please post when you have an explanation/estimate.
It was definitely "just" white... and the smoke smell was definitely pungent. As noted in other message I actually had water instead of coolant because my car was running hot recently... and like a dummy I never took care of the issue right away and bought coolant... So the issue is self inflicted... and whatever the problem how big or small is probably my fault. bah...
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Old 11-19-2014, 10:23 AM
 
Location: Las Vegas, NV
2,761 posts, read 2,265,310 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Retriever View Post
I agree that it is very likely to be the serpentine belt, and that the likely cause is that something seized. If you are lucky, it is just one of the idler pulleys. If you're not lucky, it might be the A/C compressor.

As jaydez correctly noted, your A/C compressor IS activated when you turn the HVAC system to the defrost setting.

on is ON whether I have A/C button pushed or not... duh... thanks for correcting. I'll take his advice and to turn it to OFF before the truck arrives.
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Old 11-19-2014, 10:23 AM
 
Location: UpstateNY
8,613 posts, read 7,856,341 times
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white smoke=coolant

(black/blue smoke=oil)

squealing could be any of the pulleys in the belt system, including belt tensioners.

Please, folks, never leave your heat or a/c on when you shut your car down. Always shut the fan off. This is a much needed break on older cars.

OP keep us posted, it sounds like it might be engine time :-(
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