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Old 09-23-2011, 11:00 AM   #1
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Focus vs Camry

I have been maintaining a 2001 Camry for a relative for about the same number of years and miles as I've been maintaining a 2001 Focus ZETEC for another daughter.

The Focus has required MUCH more work, but not so much that we think it's a bad car. It has had the standard recalls, endless replacements of sway bar links, two sets of rear brakes, replacement of crappy ign. cylinder, valve cover gaskets, thermostat housings, engine mounts, some engine cooling fan parts, a few more things.

The Camry ate a EGR valve solenoid. That's it, otherwise just oil changes. The Camry is at 100K and on the ORIGINAL set of rear brakes, that work fine.

The Focus is STILL more fun to drive. The Camry is rock solid dependable, but well, it is a Camry.


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Old 09-23-2011, 12:12 PM   #2
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Also, it was only the second year for the '01 focus while the Camry had been in that model since '96.

My parents still have their 01 Camry and haven't really had much go wrong with it, mostly scheduled maintenance. So its proven to be a solid car. Wouldn't really compare the two different cars though.
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Old 09-23-2011, 12:13 PM   #3
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So, the Toyota was more reliable and the Focus was more fun.

Sounds about right.
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Old 09-23-2011, 12:29 PM   #4
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My 01 ZX3 was rock solid reliable. Had the fuel pump drop out at about 6000km, but after that only one DPFE sensor and that's it. Oh and it did eat through 2 sets of swaybar links before I got smart. Bought the greasable ones from NAPA and filled them full of synthetic grease. Never had an issue after that. I retired it last summer with 160,000km on it and it was still running strong. I miss my old ZX3. As much as I love the titanium, it just seems more refined. The ZX3 was just such an engaging drive in comparison, even though I know my 2012 would spank it anytime anywhere.
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Old 09-23-2011, 01:16 PM   #5
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also remember that the focus is an economy car, where the camry is a family sedan. Now the camrys produced in the early 2000's imo are the best ones they made, but your comparing a $15,000 focus, to a about $20,000 Camry. Now thinking dollar figures at it doesn't really mean much, but typically (especially back then) a more expensive car lasted a lot longer.
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Old 09-23-2011, 05:07 PM   #6
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I wasn't trying to say the cars were comparable. They are clearly not. It was really just a general observation about RELIABILITY and durability, not features, price class, segment, or anything else. I am not a big fan of Toyota but the difference in this case was significant.
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Old 09-23-2011, 05:31 PM   #7
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Old 09-23-2011, 10:29 PM   #8
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Interesting observation rkjjeep. No doubt the best conclusion that can be drawn about reliability is from a long term relationship with the car.

My Mom had a '93 and a '98 Camry. Both were reasonably reliable. The one notable issue with the '93 was a head gasket leak and the '98 had a problem with the rear shock mounts that made the car sound terrible. The '98 was recently traded for a new Elantra Touring.

My own experience with Toyotas (I currently own 2) is; the '05 Tundra 4x4 has had no issues, now at 126,000, but the Sienna has been plagued with numerous issues (door failure, rack, airbags, rear windows).

I have only owned the Focus for six months, so opinions about reliability will have to wait a while.
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Old 09-23-2011, 10:48 PM   #9
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Older toyotas ive found to be incredibly reliable, take a look at the truck that Top Gear Abused, and its still running.

I have however noticed that lately, the quality on Toyota's has droped quite drastically, and id be curious to see if 10 years down the line we are still saying the same thing about them.

The focus is not a reliable car, family has had honda civics, mazda 323s, etc that all have done well over 300k miles with little more than tires, and oil changes. Ive yet to see a focus that can do 25k without breaking something.

But, ill say this, toyota camrys have about as much soul as a turnip, where as the focus just oozes personality. Thats why i like it so much.
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Old 09-24-2011, 12:31 PM   #10
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4 cyl Camry I assume. That 2.4L SOHC engine has been around since 1982 or so in one form or another. Somewhere in there you'll find out it's a 22R- something. That is the million mile Toyota motor. In every single car that has ever claimed to go 500k- that engine is the one in it. It was in the Cressidas, the base pickups, and the Camry although it's now converted to transverse use in the Camrys. That being said, the Corolla engine is a good one that has been around for a long time also. I think the 1.8 DOHC engine first started appearing as an optional engine in the late 80's. Since then it's been slightly revised, and if I had to pick a car to use simply to get back and forth to work it would be any Corolla with an MT that has the starter mounted on the front side of the engine compartment with the intake manifold. Those are easy to work on, and a solid reliable design. No style at all though, but I could care less about that while I drive to work.

It's not worth shelving the wagon and purchasing a new DD though. My 05 Focus has 130k miles and I have had NO mechanical problems outside of standard maintenance issues and the stupid sway bar end links that plague this car. I have become lazy because there is literally nothing to do on this car. I swapped the brakes for an SVT set-up at 60k after waiting for the factory pads and shoes to wear out. I still have the old pads, and there is plenty of friction material. The same goes for the drums. Your problem might be something else.

As far as pads on the front go- the early Foci had horribly small rotors, and that causes reduced pad life as well as weak braking. Conversion kits are available to increase to the 11" size of the 05+ models but those are expensive because the knuckle is different. My factory 05 brakes were good, but the SVT kit made braking ridiculously good so that I have to pay attention as to what sort of vehicle is following me if I want to slam on the brakes. I have no ABS, but the wheels tend to stop at the same time as the car as long as I keep AA traction tires on it.

Have you ever inspected the Camry drums? There might be a reason other than Toyota is awesome as to why the shoes haven't worn out. It wouldn't be the first time I saw seized adjusters on domestic or foreign vehicles. Rear brakes do very little to stop the vehicle anyway. I have purposefully turned adjusters in all the way with old shoes and have never been able to tell a difference other than a slight shudder from the rear as the shoes barely touched the drum. I wouldn't use this as a consideration for reliability of any manufacturer, and I've worked on a lot of cars new and old. I do like the Denso hold down spring design- if the Yota uses that one. You can replace it with the common coil spring in rear brake hardware kits, but I don't. You'll know what I mean if that's what you have.
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