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Old 03-12-2007, 06:35 PM   #1
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How reliable is the Focus?

I'm looking at a 2003 focus with 50k miles on it. I really need reliability, BAD. Some sites have said the Focus offers great dependability, while others say I might as well be driving a Pinto. So I'm turning to owners for help. Any design flaws or known problems? Thanks!


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Old 03-12-2007, 06:44 PM   #2
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'03 should get you past most of the known problems of the earlier Focus'.
One minor one to be aware of is the ignition switch lock-up problem (do a search, LOTS of threads). It's bad if it locks up on you, but a very easy fix if you take care of it ahead of time. There's a newer style ignition cylinder that I installed as a preventative measure. Mines an '04 2.3 liter, and the only problem I've had was a bad fuel pressure sensor, fixed under warranty. The car's been very good to me.
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Old 03-12-2007, 06:55 PM   #3
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I'm wondering why the Mustang is the most reliable car Ford makes.

To give you guys insight, I used to own a 2002 nissan sentra se-r spec v. Do not ever buy an se-r. Ever. Unless you enjoy the feeling of agony. I've gone through two engines because of a faulty problem with screws and a pre-cat ingestion. Also had a radiator die.

I've heard in some places that the Focus is as reliable as the civic. For the ignition lockup problem, will dealers take care of it? Was there a recall?
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Old 03-12-2007, 07:19 PM   #4
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No recall on the ignition cylinder. Dealer would take care of it under warranty once it developed a problem, but you can PM Mike (B16) on here and get a cylinder built to match your key for $65, and it takes 10 minutes to swap. Rather than wait for a problem that will of course pop up on a rainy weekend night I spent the money, and consider worth it compared to the pain of having one go bad.
BTW, the 2.3 is a Duratec. If you are looking at a 2.0L that's a Zetec, which I can't give any advice on...

I owned a '96 Sentra SER. The engine was awesome, the handling pretty good. The tranny dropped fifth gear at 59k. Put a junkyard tranny in that had 25k on it... and almost to the mile died with 59k on it. Turned out to be a design problem that Nissan wouldn't back up for anyone... tho they should have dragged the engineer out an shot him.
The brakes on the car - especially the back calipers, sucked.
And when the "Fresh-Recirculate" lever on the dash broke and I went to the dealer parts department the guy didn't even look it up... he could tell me to the penny how much change over $600 it was going to cost me. Needless to say I left it broke, but the whole think left me with a really bad feel for Nissan engineering...
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Old 03-12-2007, 07:27 PM   #5
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It got even worse in the 2002 model where a design flaw left over 50% of all sentra SE-Rs with busted engines due to faulty butterfly screws coming loose off the intake and getting ingested into the engine. On top of that, bad engineering lead to the pre-cat igniting unburned fuel and disintergrating the pre-cat, which also got sucked into the engine.

Nissan only did a recall on the 2004 and later models, but it affected the 2002 and 2003 as well. With 5 years of production, they still haven't fixed that problem. I will never buy a Nissan again.
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Old 03-12-2007, 07:28 PM   #6
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take care of it. do all your preventable maintance and she should take care of you. my friends zx3 had alot of problems including catching fire but that wasent fords fault...some shop worked on the car then it had probs since then
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Old 03-12-2007, 07:54 PM   #7
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It's possible that it has the zetec motor in it like StealthGray said. I haven't found or heard of any serious problems with the zetec motors or the MX75 tranny (standard tranny) like you did with the nissan. The only problems I know of is that the earlier foci (may not apply to the '03) had a recall on the fuel pumps. Mine went out on me half way down the local 8th mile drag strip. Just took it in to the nearest ford dealer and they replaced it no questions asked. Also there's something called runaway idle (also may not apply to the '03) where the original TPS sensors had a defect where every now and then the RPMs would start climbing when you push in the clutch. Just replace it with a new TPS sensor. That's all I know about the zetecs as far as reliability and problems. I've got over 112K on mine so far and haven't had any serious problems. Also as stated above contact Mike (b16sir1996) and give him the VIN#. He works for ford and can run it to see what motor it has and whether it's had any recall work done.
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Old 03-12-2007, 08:00 PM   #8
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I duno i've had my focus for the last 15,000 or so km's, its now got around 123,000, and i've had no problems with it at all, and its a 2000 ( supposedly the trouble year because of a few recalls ). I drive this car like a rental ( only 1/2 the time ) and its only treated me well.
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Old 03-12-2007, 08:02 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EvilGenius View Post
Also as stated above contact Mike (b16sir1996) and give him the VIN#. He works for ford and can run it to see what motor it has and whether it's had any recall work done.
+1 - great idea to get it run. thanks so much mike!
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Old 03-12-2007, 08:21 PM   #10
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Aside from routine stuff the only problems I had were a bad alternator at around 40K and a bad shift solenoid in the auto tranny at around 62K. Other that that it's a pretty good car.
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