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Hi there, I got the flu last Monday, and so my 2003 Escape V6 was parked outside my house until I drove down to the Doctor on Wednesday. It was driving perfectly at that time and I got a full tank of gas at a little full service place when I was out. The Doctor suspected I had swine flu so I was back in bed for a full seven day quarantine. On Saturday we had a major rainstorm. So when I went out to the car this morning it was covered in wet leaves and other debris. It started fine as always, & I did not notice any problem until I got on the Highway a few miles from the house. The car struggled to get from 40mph to 60mph. It felt like it was not getting enough gas. Once it did get there it held steady. When I got off the highway I noticed that it was running rough when I stopped at the lights. Almost like the revs were too low. I had an oil change only about two weeks ago, so I brought it back to the Garage. At first they did not want to work on it because I had told them that it had sat idle while I had swine flu, but they accepted it after I explained about how swine flu works etc. Without even looking at the car, they said that from my story it sounds like the coils were gone. They said to park it outside and they would look at it tomorrow. I phoned them about 30 mins later and asked if they planned on looking at it in the a.m or p.m? - they said they had already looked at it and two coils were gone and a third was threatening to go, so they should replace all three on Wednesday and I could have it back on Thursday.. They said I can drive it tomorrow, that it won't cut out or do any engine damage, and the job should cost about $600.. Does all this sound right? $600 is a major expense for me. I was hoping they would say that the spark plugs were water logged or that the gas I got was dirty.

Answers from the Automotive Experts

Amanda J. Pierce, MBA Clare, Symptoms of failing coils are erratic firing of cylinder; If the wire is good, the signs present themselves at the plug with lots of carbon, after some urban driving. Looking at the coil pak might show some small cracks on/near the corners which seem to be the weakest spots. Sometimes you can even see tiny sparks escape the pak if you can find a spot dark enough to observe. All of these problems could worsen in damp/wet driving. Fastest way to troubleshoot the prob is with a scope that can monitor each wire's throughout while the car is running. The paks can cost a lot depending on whether it's a used one($20-$50) or a new one,($100's).If you choose you can request to replace those that they are stating are bad and wait to replace the other until you can save to do so, as it is condusive to your budget.

Barb Petrey, President - DBK Enterprises Inc at Jiffy Lube Coils can go out-especially in damp weather but I would get a second opinion

Judy Curry, Co-Founder and Vice President of Marketing at Currys Auto Service You should find out what is wrong with the coils. If the coils are in fact faulty you should have most likely also had the "Service Engine Soon" lamp illuminated on the instrument cluster and their should be misfire codes stored in the engines computer. I can tell you that it is not uncommon for the ignition coils to go bad on this vehicle. If you had contaminated fuel, I would expect the vehicle to perform poorly all the time not just as you described. So I think you can rule that out for now.

Laurie Sarno, Co-Owner at Super Girls Auto Hello Clare- hope you are feeling better now- but from the description given I would strongly suspect contaminated fuel- draining the tank & replacing the fuel filter maybe a solution to the problem- if indeed the coils are bad, the price that was quoted to you is a reasonable price- as these coils cost about $100 each- hope this helps- thanks Super Girls Auto.

Pat Fleischmann, Director of First Impressions at Community Tire Pros & Auto Repair Sorry about the flu issue! The rain isn't your problem! I don't know where you live, but in my area it could be as annoying as a "pack rat" that found a safe,dry place for over a week and just started making his way thru some of your items. This happened to me... Vacumnn Hose! Have them Check for vacuum leaks. Also if it has over 80,000 miles on the odometer it may be time to replace the spark plugs and plug wires. The other alternative could be an egr valve. This problem may have caused some junk that made it past the fuel filter and gunked up the egr valve. I would first have them check for vacuum leaks, and then the possiblity of replacing the IAC (idle air control),if all checks out, see if they did a compression test. All cylinders will have to be within 10 per cent of each other to have a steady idle. As you can see, this could be many things including the coils, but with the mass varieties of items it could be an elimination process... This is why the diagnois of hooking the vehicle up to a computer is SO IMPORTANT. This is a starting point for your technicians.... Remember, your LOCAL ASKPATTY.COM facility are certified & looking for longtime customers, not a one-time walk-in! They will get the correct answer with your Escape! Hope this gives you enough information to "ask some questions" of your facility! This may be simple or a few $$$..... Pat Fleischmann

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