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Old 03-31-2011, 10:23 PM   #1
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Buying first car for daughter

Daughter will be getting her drivers license in a few months. I am thinking a used Focus would be a good car. My thoughts are easy on gas, easy to work on (dad's job) not too fast (I hope), relatively safe. I would like to spend 5-6K.
Please give me a course in what I should look for. I see many listings with various Suffixes ZX,LE etc, what does that mean?. I am hoping for 60-80K miles. This looks like the best site on the web for these cars so I am hoping your combined knowledge will shorten my learning curve. Thanks in advance


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Old 03-31-2011, 10:31 PM   #2
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Got some experience with that. My 2 daughters are 21 and 22 now. Daughter #1 has her 2nd car now, which is a Focus. If I had to do it all again, I would have spent more on their first cars instead of just buying some beaters.

If you're looking at Foci, you want to get as low mileage / latest model that you can get generally. Your target of 60-80k is high. 60k should be your max.
Personally, I would avoid a 'basic' model. Get one that's got some equipment on it so that at least he'll want to take care of it and be comfortable in it.

Model suffixes for Foci changed a bit over the years, but here's a basic run-down:
ZX3 = 3 door hatch
ZX5 = 5-door hatch
ZTW = wagon (after '04 the wagon was Z...something else - can't rememeber)
ZTS = sportier, more equipped sedan, up through '04
LX = mid-range sedan, up through '04
S = base model, or maybe one notch up (but not much...)
SEL = Luxury version
SES = Luxury version
SVT = racy / sport model, available in ZX3 / ZX5 versions up through '04. Only available with a 6-speed man trans.

Here's 3 for you, courtesy of Auto Trader:
http://www.autotrader.com/fyc/vdp.js...standard=false
http://www.autotrader.com/fyc/vdp.js...standard=false

http://www.autotrader.com/fyc/vdp.js...standard=false
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Old 03-31-2011, 10:32 PM   #3
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zx could either be zx3 which means its a 2 door plus hatch, zx5 is 4 door plus hatch, and zx4 is 4 sedan. if you look at 2000-2004 models you should look more for the zetec motor instead of the SPI (split port injection) as i have heard they aren't as reliable as the zetec. if your looking at 05-07 they have the duratec which is also a great engine. im sure more people will jump in and give you more useful knowledge. good luck with your purchase!
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Old 03-31-2011, 10:41 PM   #4
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The good thing about the Zetec is that it is a non-interference motor, Also Working on them is pretty easy. Now if you find a focus with the SVT Zetec in it I would stay away, that Zetec motor is hitting 170HP, the normal Zetec is around 110 at wheel.

As far as the SPI motor, I would stay away, they have a problem with dropping valve #4.

Now as far as the Duratecs, they have the 2.0l which would be a good car for her, not too much power, but if you come to find a 2.3l they are about 130HP at wheel, but the Duratecs are interference motors and they are a chain rather then a belt like the Zetec. Identifying that it is a Duratec is pretty easy, if the cover says nothing on it, then it is a Duratec, Zetecs say Zetec on them, so do SPI's.
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Old 04-01-2011, 12:14 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by karguy427 View Post
Got some experience with that. My 2 daughters are 21 and 22 now. Daughter #1 has her 2nd car now, which is a Focus. If I had to do it all again, I would have spent more on their first cars instead of just buying some beaters.

If you're looking at Foci, you want to get as low mileage / latest model that you can get generally. Your target of 60-80k is high. 60k should be your max.
Personally, I would avoid a 'basic' model. Get one that's got some equipment on it so that at least he'll want to take care of it and be comfortable in it.

Model suffixes for Foci changed a bit over the years, but here's a basic run-down:
ZX3 = 3 door hatch
ZX5 = 5-door hatch
ZTW = wagon (after '04 the wagon was Z...something else - can't rememeber)
ZTS = sportier, more equipped sedan, up through '04
LX = mid-range sedan, up through '04
S = base model, or maybe one notch up (but not much...)
SEL = Luxury version
SES = Luxury version
SVT = racy / sport model, available in ZX3 / ZX5 versions up through '04. Only available with a 6-speed man trans.

Here's 3 for you, courtesy of Auto Trader:
http://www.autotrader.com/fyc/vdp.js...standard=false
http://www.autotrader.com/fyc/vdp.js...standard=false

http://www.autotrader.com/fyc/vdp.js...standard=false
You forgot about the ST!

But I would definitely suggest either an ST (if you can find one) or a Zetec ZX3/ZX5.

EDIT

Oh hey, I see you're from Milwaukee! Post in here ..

Wisconsin People

..and we can help you find something!
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Old 04-01-2011, 01:05 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WiscoZx3 View Post
You forgot about the ST!
Was gonna say the same thing! But for a first car might be a little torquey. Unless ur daughter can handle the animal within!
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Old 04-01-2011, 01:37 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WiscoZx3 View Post
You forgot about the ST!

But I would definitely suggest either an ST (if you can find one) or a Zetec ZX3/ZX5.

EDIT

Oh hey, I see you're from Milwaukee! Post in here ..

Wisconsin People

..and we can help you find something!
Probably not going to be able to find an ST in that price range.
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Old 04-01-2011, 01:52 AM   #8
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True.
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Old 04-01-2011, 01:54 AM   #9
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Well, here's an ST in your area, but it's a bit out of your price range.
http://milwaukee.craigslist.org/ctd/2297543447.html

A little background here....
The ST has a larger 2.3 Duratec engine. Has quite a bit more hp and torque than the 2.0. When I looked for my Focus and my daughter's, I refused to look at anything unless it had the 2.3. I didn't think the 2.0 had enough power. From '05 on, you could only get the 2.3 in the ST, and it was manual trans only. The 2.3 was available in all the non-SVT Foci in '03-'04, but they were somewhat rare in some states. As a quick check, look for 'Z' for the 8th digit of the VIN.
-----------------------------------
Movin' on, here's some more......

http://milwaukee.craigslist.org/ctd/2296021639.html
- '05 ZX5, nicely equipped

http://milwaukee.craigslist.org/ctd/2290767726.html
- Red '07 SES sedan - nice
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Old 04-01-2011, 01:57 AM   #10
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find a nice zetec car. they are little workhorses. 5 speed or auto (most likely auto), unless you want to teach her how to drive stick (and show up all the boys at her school,lol) it takes a lot to break one.
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