My beautiful Focus is back. The dealer called me this afternoon for me to come pick it up. Every time I look at her Blue Candy finish and and black rims with silver trim, any regrets I had about purchasing her fade away.
Yes, it was distressing to be without my new vehicle for 25 days, but Ford did do their best to make the most of a bad situation. The regional customer service rep called me regularly to keep me updated, and she agreed to take care of the $5-a-day rental car tax.
Yes, here in NJ, the state where you can't pump your own gas, we fight the terrorists every time we rent a car, with a $5 Homeland Security Tax that was put in place soon after 9/11.
So Ford ended up replacing the steering gear assembly, and everything works again.
As long as this problem doesn't happen again, I am satisfied. Although, I will probably steer two-handed more often just in case it does go out, and I have to muscle the steering back under control.