Ford Focus: Problems & Solutions

pocahontaspocahontas Member Posts: 802
edited March 2014 in Ford
Discuss Ford Focus issues here


  • sydney6060sydney6060 Member Posts: 2
    My ignition doesn't lock. The car will start but doesn't stay running unless I have my foot on the gas. Someone said that it could be the fuel pump, or water in the gas. It's a mystery that drives me crazy. The next time it happens I'm just taking it to a local garage, not a dealer.
  • cobiecobie Member Posts: 108
    I've been fortunate that I've not had one mechanical thing go wrong with my zx3 as of yet. No noises, broken pieces, recalls.... nada. The car runs great!
    I do, however, complain often and loud about the crummy gas mileage. Only 18 to 25 mpg and that's really babying it -- no fast starts, no speeding, etc. Oh well, I guess one can't have everything, eh?
  • silver_bulletsilver_bullet Member Posts: 1,339
    My ZX3 is a 2000 model built in Dec. 1999 and purchased in Feb. 2000. I have been hit with all the recalls (fuel pressure sensor, A-pillar replacement pieces, clutch master cylinder and return spring, rear seatback hinge, rear hub retaining nut lock), but have not had any malfunctions per se (knock on wood). Like cobie, my gas mileage isn't the greatest (average 24-26 mpg), but I wasn't expecting much more from a 2 liter engine in a boxy car. My fiancee has the car now and loves it, especially since I still wash and detail it, and change the oil and filter for her :) I do think the Focus suffers from very inconsistent build quality, but if you get a "good" one, it is a tough car to beat for the price.
  • rwgreenbergrwgreenberg Member Posts: 154
    I'm not sure if it makes sense to divide up our discussion of the ZX3 into so many separate little groups. It's not hard to keep track of what's going on in our main group, and it seems to me that it makes it harder to keep track of things if we post too specifically in the sub-groups. What do you girls/guys think?
  • pocahontaspocahontas Member Posts: 802
    Now that the main Ford Focus zx3 discussion has over a 1000 posts..., I think it would be a good idea to have a few different discussions for better focus. (no pun intended) ;-)

    People won't have to scroll through 1000 posts to discuss/resolve their vehicle problems. In addition, the links at the top of each page, should make it easy for everyone to easily access each subject.

    Let's give it a try and see how it goes.... Thanks and talk later. ;-)

    Hatchback Message Board
  • KicKMan1KicKMan1 Member Posts: 45
    This is no secret, but some Focuses attain very poor gas mileage. I've brought this problem to the attention of my dealer (they always claim to have never heard of problems) twice. Each time, they claim to have tested the mileaage with some kind of meter and each time the estimated mileage was alleged to have been between 26 and 32 mpg. But for some strange reason, they're not interested in my spreadsheet of miles driven and gallons of fuel purchased. This real world test yields a rock steady 23 miles per gallon, with 95% highway driving.

    I've written to Ford twice and advised them of the problem. Each response from them was the same: we'll contact the dealer and a Ford rep. and alert them of your concerns. To date, the only actions taken has been a call from the dealer suggesting that the problem is most likely due to the winter fuel used here in Minn. I've been having this problem since last summer ...

    I'm losing my patience. What's more, I've got 12 years of litigation experience and I'm not afraid to use it. Hope you're reading this Ford ...
  • moses5moses5 Member Posts: 61
    The rear suspension on my 2000 Focus has gotten progressively worse over the past year. The drivers side rear makes creaking noises and the car has begun to drive strangely when on the highway.

    It feels like I'm going to loose control. The rear end starts to wiggle around a bit. I believe the springs are the assembly that hold them is causing them to move around. I have heard post from 1 or 2 other people who had the noise but not the driving problem.

    I have had futile attempts at getting the problem fixed with Ford dealerships. Folks this is a safety issue and might be Fords next biggest problem.

    Anyone out there experience this before.
  • bfallisbfallis Member Posts: 8
    Ouch. I have 70 miles on my ZX3 (70, not 70k) and already this weekend I'm in a very average feeling Escort rental while the ZX3 sits in the shop. D'OH! I was out shopping and tried my second key which was cut the day of purchase. Wouldn't go in. Hmmm. So I decided to mention that to the dealer and put in the other key which had always worked fine. Wouldn't turn. Talked to the service guy who said "it should turn." Oh really? Anyway it wouldn't turn, and the tow truck guy confirmed that.

    They're ordering a new ignition, and won't have the part 'til Monday.

    What was worse is that as a "30-day buyer" I should get a rental right away and be on my way, but noone told me. I waited around three hours for them to even look at my car, and when they still hadn't I went over to rental and said "at what point in the day do they decide to give me a rental?" They were like "if the service guys say it will be here overnight." Ouch. I didn't realize the rental part of my warranty contract only lets me have a rental if it goes overnight. If it's there for say, 7 hours, from 9 am to 4 pm, you don't get a rental?? (I bought a 75k 7 year warranty.) They're definitely not Infiniti. Anyway, when I mentioned I'd just purchased the car 2 days prior, the rental manager suddenly perked up.. "let's get this guy a rental."

    Hello! I'd been waiting for 3 hours to just get an audience with Service to maybe mention I had just bought it... might want to return it... if you catch my drift.

    Anyway, I love the car so far... the way it rides, feels, looks, and handles. Hopefully this starter or ignition failure is a fluke. Kinda makes me nervous though. If it's in the shop after 2 days of ownership... what is there to look forward to?

  • eyefieyefi Member Posts: 5
    Yes, I have had the exact experience with the gas mileage kick man and have concluded its a quality control problem. Some foci get great gas mileage, I talked to a owner who get in the high 30's with auto 4 dr. My stick ZX3 get's about 19-24. what's even more amazing the harder I drive it the better the gas mileage! No kidding if I shift about 5000 rpm I get 20mpg in town. If I use the arrow I get about 19!!!Something tells me the ECU is the problem. Keep us informed of your attempts with Ford.
  • fgaydosfgaydos Member Posts: 319
    Here is a very good article on the recall problem. Ford is not the only company involved:
  • botskibotski Member Posts: 3
    Hey Kickman1,

    I also am geting 23-25 MPG with 90% highway driving. The Ford dealer in Apple Valley said to wait until the breakin period is over and it may improve. It hasn't. Keep me updated about any legal stuff.

  • bfallisbfallis Member Posts: 8
    my car was fixed and all is right with the universe.
  • asadorianasadorian Member Posts: 23
    Re #8: The service manager at my Ford dealer told me that this the biggest problem it has had with the Focus. The key won't turn in the ignition switch, and the switch has to be replaced. I had to wait 24 days to get a new switch that was keyed to work in the car.

    Ford apparently is replacing the switches as they break. With our Focus the key wouldn't turn one day. After wiggling the key for a few minutes, the switch worked fine and continued to work fine for a few weeks until one day it froze again without any warning.

    If any of you have had difficulty turning the ignition key, you may want to see about getting the switch replaced before it breaks at some inconvenient time. Ours broke on Christmas eve, and we had to tow the car to our house and then tow it again to the Ford dealer after Christmas.
  • fdthirdfdthird Member Posts: 352
    What kind of build dates are we talking about with the cars???

  • silver_bulletsilver_bullet Member Posts: 1,339
    In his misguided attempt to drive down costs and increase dividend payouts to Ford shareholders (and thus keep his job and astronomical salary), CEO Jac Nasser has been playing the same game many auto execs have been playing - squeeze the profit out of your suppliers. Sure, some companies will agree to Jac's demands for lower and lower prices on parts, but the suppliers will meet the price by leaving out the quality. Result? Your shiny new car is built from crap parts. Get used to lots more niggling failures like the ignition switch problem...
  • asadorianasadorian Member Posts: 23
    Re #14: I tried to get some information on build dates from the service manager before replying, but he was too busy. I took delivery on my Focus in February 2000. If I find out any additional information, I will post it here.
  • svarney1svarney1 Member Posts: 5
    If you still have the original window sticker, the build date is printed on the bottom of the sheet. If not, there should be some way to find out through the VIN number, though I'm not sure how... anyone out there know how to decode the Ford VIN number?
  • silver_bulletsilver_bullet Member Posts: 1,339
    Build date is also listed on the VIN sticker on the driver's door jamb. I'll need your VIN to tell you what your car is all about, but basically:

    digits 1-3: World Manufacturer ID
    digit 4: Restraint Type
    digit 5: Manufacturers specification
    digits 6-7: Line Series Body Type
    digit 8: Engine
    digit 9: Check Digit
    digit 10: Year
    digit 11: Assembly Plant
    digits 12-17: Production Sequence Number
  • silver_bulletsilver_bullet Member Posts: 1,339
    1FA = Ford passenger vehicle
    F = Active seatbelts and front airbags
    P = Ford North American vehicle
    31 = ZX3
    3 = 2.0 Zetec
    check digit
    Y = 2000; 1 = 2001
    R = Hermosillo
    123456 = your car's sequence number
  • asadorianasadorian Member Posts: 23
    The build date on my car is 11/22/99.

    What I was trying to say in message #16 was that I wanted to get information on the age of the cars that had been repaired at the Ford dealer. The service manager told me that it was the biggest problem the dealer was having with the Focus. Message #8 seems to indicate that the problem is still occurring.

    I still plan to ask the service manager when I see him again, which based on my experience with the car will probably be soon.
  • KicKMan1KicKMan1 Member Posts: 45
    For those with the mileage problem, I was told today by my dealer service rep. that Ford Motor Company is not "recognizing" the low fuel mileage as unless it's accompanied by a check engine light. The service rep's reply to my 25 mpg on the highway was that it's "normal".

    What an idiot I was for believing that I could get 31 mpg.
  • phowell1phowell1 Member Posts: 35
    I was told the same thing Ford must be tellling service managers to say this. I have bought 3 new expeditions and this Focus and a Crown Vic in the last 7 years. This is the last Ford. They offer NO service after the sale. Why would anyone buy a Focus if not for the advertised mileage they are suppose to get. mine will be traded for a Toyota and never another FORD will I drive. Ford Home of the No Service Guaranteed!!!!!!!!!
  • teacher114teacher114 Member Posts: 1
    Wow! I was very close to getting a Focus, and after reading what happened to all of you, I'm running like heck from a Ford dealer!!
  • fdthirdfdthird Member Posts: 352
    Just took a 250 mile trip with our son's 2001 Focus to deliver it to him at college. Car had just over 400 miles on it when we left. Varied speed on the trip out between 50 and 80 following break in procedures. Stopped to fill up car just before we got to his college and did the math. The car got just about 29 MPG. I think that's great considering the low mileage on the car and the speed.
  • phowell1phowell1 Member Posts: 35
    Well I waited like everyone said untill I had more miles on my 2001 Focus and Now it has 5100 and heres the story:

    Mileage is way less than advertised. as much as 10 mpg less

    over 70 mph and the noise comeing from the right rear is terrible

    every time I go over uneven pavement or hit a small bump at over 20 mph the tires rub the body and it bottoms out.

    Road noise at any speed is terrible.

    Spoke to service manager at dealership, he is clueless to begin with states if engine light isn't on he cant do anything, called Ford left numerous complaints and no one responds.

    NEVER buy Ford they could care less about their product and even less about their customers.

    Only good thing about the Focus is the amount of head room. No more Amercvan for me Toyota or Subaru or nothing
  • fdthirdfdthird Member Posts: 352 tell us about your poor mileage but then don't tell us what you are getting?? Do you actually mean you are getting around 20 MPG??

    I'm sorry but I must say that I haven't had your experience with our 2001. Now, we have only had it for 2 weeks or so but I don't find it objectionable noisy nor does the suspension bottom.

    It is not a quiet as my wife's 2001 Taurus SEL but then it also cost close to $10,000 less! Lets remember to compare apples to apples not oranges. We had a guy a couple of weeks ago who complained that the Focus wasn't as good as a car (a Subaru) that cost about $8000 more than the Focus.
  • silver_bulletsilver_bullet Member Posts: 1,339
    fdthird, that lopsided Subaru comparison was made by phowell1 - and I agree, it gets tiresome when people gripe about the Focus and complain when it doesn't match the power or refinement of another car costing thousands more. I guess Ford should be flattered that folks would think to make such comparisons.

    As with any "economy car", the Focus looks like a dumb buy when you load it to the gills with every option, but if you go easy on the toys, and get the car with a manual tranny, it is an amazingly nice package. No, it isn't trouble-free, nor is it the most fuel efficient compact out there. But IMHO it is the best balanced one, the most practical, and the most fun to drive - for $12K to $13K. I think people need to understand their priorities better before making a purchase decision. If maximum MPG is at the top of the list, a tall car with a 2.0 liter engine isn't a good choice.
  • fdthirdfdthird Member Posts: 352
    Silver Bullet, the Focus may be an entry level economy car but I think Ford has done a good job making it look up scale!

    The dark charchol interior of my son's looks a lot more up scale than the interior or my Mom's 2000 Camry!

  • kwall1kwall1 Member Posts: 2
    Have a 2001 ZX3 has 2500 miles on it now can't beat it ,in fact am going to order the 2002 with the 170HP motor.Went on a trip last weekend driving between 70-80 all the way got 40.1mpg around town I get about 33mpg nothing wrong with that. A friend of mine has a Toyota MR2 I can out perform him all day, he was very impressed.
  • rwgreenbergrwgreenberg Member Posts: 154
    My 2001 has been great too. Except, the gas mileage your getting is incredible compared to mine. I get 26 suburban. Haven't checked it out on the highway for mileage, but I think that 40 would be a very long shot for my baby. My '89 Colt gets 40 on the road with a 1600 cc engine, and it's much lighter than the Z.
  • mostro750mostro750 Member Posts: 9
    just bought a 2001 ZX3 with manual gearbox.

    i've got about 500 miles on it and now i have noticed that at the idle the engine makes a very disconcerting clanking noise - almost like a diesel taxi (i'm originally from london).

    if i touch the gas and rev the engine the noise disappears instantly -

    is this sort of idle noise normal?

    any clues?


  • silver_bulletsilver_bullet Member Posts: 1,339
    Mostro750, that noise certainly isn't unique - several long-time posters have been fighting a battle with Ford over the "tractor" sounds made by their car's engine and transaxle. I'd have your dealer's service manager give it a listen, and at least document the existence of the noise in case a problem crops up later. My fiancee's 2000 ZX3 (now with about 7K miles) is quiet at idle, but exhibits just a trace of this sound while creeping along in second gear at very low road speeds.
  • wromanwroman Member Posts: 1
    Hi I have a 2000 Ford Focus Hatch back. There's been a constant knocking/ticking noise when I have the clutch disengaged and in neutral gear. I was told by Ford Service that others have reported this noise and that Ford is aware of the noise. They say it is not safety related and they do not have a "fix". Today I was told it was a "normal clutch rollover" sound. It is far from a "normal" sound. I was basically told to live with it. Although I really love the car besides the noise, I will not accept a new car with that noise. I would like to hear if you have experienced the same noise and if so, was anything done to correct the problem. Thanks for any help you can provide.
  • midnight_stangmidnight_stang Member Posts: 862
    Give them a few years, and let them work out the bugs on the car before buying. Then you'll enjoy the newest stylings, and less problems.

    Ford cars and Ford Dealership service ARE TWO SEPARATE ENTITIES.

    If you goto a McDonalds, and they food tastes like they wiped their butt on it, would you then avoid all mcdonalds? Actually most people are so paranoid they would, but they are missing out if you think about it. (Besides You probably already ingest such bad things on a regular basis and don't know it)
  • mostro750mostro750 Member Posts: 9
    I can only hear the noise that I originally mentioned when the car is idling and I am outside the car. If I am sat at a stoplight I can't hear it. The more I think about it the more I realize that I don't want it to put me off other aspects of what I think is a great car. let's face it most American cars handle like a sack of scanners, with controls so ridiculously overservoed that driving is about as involving as posting letters. what i'm trying to say is that focus is a driver's car for a bargain price surrounded by a sea of dull alternatives. also my level of expectations for any dealer service especially on something as complicated as replacing major engine or transmission parts approaches zero. i just about trust them to change oil and filters. i have determined that i will live with the noise and mention it to ford just to see what they say. as a disclaimer, i ride a ducati motorcycle which also produces a strange range of mechanical noises so i have to say that i probably have a fairly high tolerance for it.
  • silver_bulletsilver_bullet Member Posts: 1,339
    Great bike - desmodromic valve actuation does produce some interesting sounds. The MTX 75 gearbox in the ZX3 has a rather unusual clutch slave/release bearing design, which may be at least partially responsible for the sounds noted. I agree - at least on your car and mine, the level of mechanical noise isn't worth getting all stressed out about. Have your dealer give it a listen, and see if they dismiss it as normal clutch noise. I switched to Redline synthetic gearlube - the noise level went down ever so slightly, but shift action was much improved.
  • jmeijmei Member Posts: 2
    My Contour had the same noise usually when it's cold. I used to rev up a bit too just to get rid of it. The dealer nearby told me it's a broken timing belt cover.
  • kerrigat2kerrigat2 Member Posts: 7
    My ex bought a Civic last summer and the salesman gave us a big lecture on how to break in the engine and the brakes. I later found out that the engine is broken in at the factory, and everything he told us about it was BS, and has been BS for a long, long time. I wonder why they do this? Anyway, I don't know if Ford also breaks in their engines but it wouldn't surprise me, so the "wait until it's broken in" excuse sounds pretty lame to me.

  • silver_bulletsilver_bullet Member Posts: 1,339
    It is true that engines are usually briefly run (and often "dry fired" at that) at the factory to test basic performance and function, but I certainly wouldn't consider that sort of test run as a proper break-in. Break-in consists of a gradual period of cycling the engine through several cold start/warm-up sequences, and running it at a variety of speeds under light to medium load until the many moving parts have a chance to "get used to" each other. There is generally a fair amount of junk circulating around inside a new engine, which is why an early first oil and filter change isn't a bad idea either. As an amateur engine builder, I have a pretty good feel for the break-in process, and always follow recommendations when buying a new car, or putting a reman engine in an older one.
  • kerrigat2kerrigat2 Member Posts: 7
    How do you know that the sort of break-in process that you describe isn't performed at the factory? If you rebuild an engine, that's obviously another story, but it doesn't seem like it would be much trouble for the factory to do a thorough, automated, computerized break-in of new engines. It makes sense to me, if it potentially cuts down the number of major warranty claims.

  • silver_bulletsilver_bullet Member Posts: 1,339
    ... a thorough break-in at the factory. Porsche comes to mind - they run every engine on the dynomometer for a set period of time at varied loads, and make a series of final adjustments before installing an engine into a car. Other high-end makers have similar procedures. I've never had a chance to tour an automated engine plant like the one Ford operates in Hermosillo, but my guess is that it would be prohibitively expensive to fuss over a "lowly" production engine like the Zetec in this manner. Warranty claims or not, I don't think Ford can take the time to do this sort of fine tuning - the profit margins are way too slim. I do believe that Ford DOES fine tune every SVT Cobra engine, since they got slapped with a class action suit involving inflated power claims... if you can find out the details describing Ford Zetec production techniques, I'd be very interested to hear about them!
  • kerrigat2kerrigat2 Member Posts: 7
    You obviously know much more about engines than I do, and I personally don't know a thing about what gets done to them at a factory. But the people I know who know a lot about cars agree that conventional break-in wisdom is BS these days. I don't see why it would be a big deal to do the break-in at the factory. I'm not talking about the fine-tuning that Porsche does; just running the engine at different speeds under different loads (there must be some cheap, automated way to do this) so all the parts get situated/lubed right...

  • silver_bulletsilver_bullet Member Posts: 1,339
    There may be a cost effective way to do this, but the best "computer" to monitor engine break-in is a skilled person, not a machine, and skilled people cost money. I'd guess Ford (and most other large manufacturers) do statistical sampling - they pull an engine randomly from the line and scrutinize it for defects. If it passes the tests, they assume all the other non-tested engines are likely within spec. You'd hope.

    It is interesting that with all the sophisticated CNC machines available today, virtually all of the most powerful and expensive engines are final assembled by hand - racing engines, and high dollar production engines included. There are some things that people do better than machines - given enough time and skill.
  • kerrigat2kerrigat2 Member Posts: 7
    How many new Ford owners do you think are skilled at monitoring engine break-in? Sure, maybe at the factory, employees are better than machines at monitoring this stuff, but that's not the discussion we're having.

  • silver_bulletsilver_bullet Member Posts: 1,339
    Tom, I'm sure very few Ford owners know enough or care enough about engine break-in to monitor it - that's why the manual gives a few basic guidelines and leaves it at that. Following Ford's break-in recommendations isn't very difficult, and doesn't cost anything, so why not do it? If you choose to ignore the guidelines, that's your choice - it's your engine, after all. There are entire topics in this Town Hall dedicated to engine break-in; check them out for more on the subject than you'll ever want to know.

    We often tend to follow those who taught us. In my case, I learned engine assembly from skilled race mechanics and machinists, not "close enough for government work" assembly line builders, so I stick with what I know works. Enjoy your car :)
  • njbongonjbongo Member Posts: 66
    There's a simple way to solve this. OK, let's assume that you actually CARE about your car and want it to perform as is is intended to. Look in your Focus Owners Manual (I have a 2001 ZX3) states to vary your engine speed and go easy on the brakes for the first 500 miles. This is very reasonalbe and EASY to do.

    Follow these break-in procedures AS OUTLINED IN WRITING BY FORD !!!!! If you have any problems with the car, you have more to your defense on drive-train warranty issues because you followed the break in procedures. Also, this is NOT STATED IN THE OWNERS MANUAL BY FORD, but it is a good idea to do your first oil change VERY EARLY ! (I'm doing mine at 1500 miles).

    As far as "factory" break in.....whatever! Unless the car is fully assembled and someone is driving your new car in the real world for the first 500 miles IT IS NOT BROKEN IN. I don't care what Porsche, Mercedes or even Ferrari do to their engines in pre-preduction....ITS NOT BREAK IN. Do you honestly trust "factory" tests to duplicate the real thing...I DON'T !

    Think of it this way....when you first get a new pair of shoes, SOME OF THEM can be a little uncomfortable and also cause some "friction" on the bottom of your feet at first. You have to WALK in them for a bit to break them in...same goes for engines. Engine breakin is NOT BS !!!!!

    thank you,


    PS - Now stop fighting about this and enjoy your cars.
  • erichu2erichu2 Member Posts: 1
    Hi, I'm seriously considering buying an '01 ZX3 very soon and was wondering if the idle/diesel noises are limited to the manual trannys? Or does the auto suffer this annoyance as well? Any info would be greatly appreciated, thanks.
  • njbongonjbongo Member Posts: 66
    I can only vouch for mine....2001, Zx3, 5 problems or noises at all so far.........only 1300 miles and about 5 weeks so far............I wouldn't think twice about buying one....
  • petedopetedo Member Posts: 27
    Buy the car dude. Mine's a 2001 yellow 5 spd. I have no problems so far at 700 miles. As for the decision between auto or 5 spd, I'd get the manual for the better performance. I'd never buy a slosh box even if the 5 speed had a loud idle.
  • silver_bulletsilver_bullet Member Posts: 1,339
    From what I've read on other forums, Foci seem to be rather susceptible to warping their brake rotors. My fiancee's ZX3 is pulsing away merrily at 9K miles... I'm going to install EBC grooved rotors and junk the el cheapo OEM Ford parts. Anyone else notice a pulsation in the steering wheel and/or brake pedal while braking from highway speeds?
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