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$1500 repair or can someone give me another solution to this Ford Focus engine problem

skewleyskewley Posts: 3
edited September 2014 in Ford
My 2001 Focus with 2.0 liter engine is not doing well. It's been well maintained an just had it's 100,000 mile tuneup recently. It has about 102,000 miles on it.

Lately when I start the ignition with a warm engine (like going into a store and coming out), cylinder 1 misfires for about 30 seconds which really stinks in a 4 cylinder. Then it's fine. It only happened once when I wasn't starting my car with a warm engine and that's when I was stopped on a hill and really had to rev and ride the clutch to get the car moving.

I have a whiz bang mechanic who I really trust. We replaced spark plug, spark plug wire, coil, and fuel injector on cylinder 1. No change. The mechanic said "only 1 thing left to do, pull of the head and see what's wrong with the valve and get it fixed." I said "How much?" He said "$1200 to $2000 I would guess around $1500." I've been with this mechanic for over 10 years and the highest expense has been like $200! He's guessing valve damage but he's guessing. He can't get a compression test because the problem doesn't last long so we're stuck.

At this point I don't think it makes sense to spend this money... I really, really like focus. Any ideas?


  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    How does the rest of the car run (AC, accessories, etc.)? What would you drive instead?

    $1,500 is a lot of money but it's still only 3 or 4 car payments.
  • Rest of the car is fine. No AC though but hey - live in Colorado don't need it too often. Alternative is to upgrade and drive the new upgrade til it's dead - hopefully do better than this 2.0 liter focus.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    edited September 2014
    Well, your Focus is old but really doesn't have all that many miles on it. And you love it. And you have a whiz-bang mechanic. I think I'd ask the mechanic for advice - maybe he knows of another car that's for sale that would meet your needs perfectly if tearing into the engine doesn't pan out.

    Disclaimer - I'm cheap and tend to let stuff get run into the ground. New(er) cars can be a whole lot of fun so don't discount that factor in your equation.
  • I just may get it fixed - I'm super cheap too. I bought the Focus for $4000 6 years ago and it's worth about $3000 now. Good deal! The only thing that worries me is that the mechanic can't guarantee it will fix the problem. But $1500 is only about 4 car payments. We'll see. Ugh!
  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    edited September 2014
    When I appraise a "clean" Focus with those miles down here in NM, I come up with $1,643 as the trade-in number. A retail price would be $2,696 and maybe you could get $3k selling it yourself. (Probably no way without AC down here though. :) ).

    It's always the trade-off - you can dump some money into an old car and the value won't increase any. But if you can drive it for another six months, then it may be worth it.
  • steverstever Posts: 52,462
    edited September 2014
    Just happened to notice this new Edmunds Answer with a Focus problem that reminded me a bit of yours.

    I guess my question is how much other research have you (or your mechanic) done to try to pin down the issue a bit before tearing into the head?
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    I think your "whiz bang" mechanic is guessing and guessing can get expensive.

    I would seek out a second opinion from a recommended shop that has the right experience and equipment to figure it out.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Yes, ditto. I don't think this guy is so whiz-bang. More of a good guesser, not a diagnostician.

    " We replaced spark plug, spark plug wire, coil, and fuel injector on cylinder 1. "

    That's called "shotgunning" and it might have worked, but it's rather amateur--what one might expect more from a clever backyard mechanic than a trained professional.

    Was the spark plug in question examined for fouling?

    Has anyone done a cylinder leakdown test to see if the valve guides or valve stem seals are leaking?

    I would definitely NOT let him remove the cylinder head without some rational testing beforehand.
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