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Old 04-14-2015, 10:40 PM   #1
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Alternator location in MK3 Focus?

Hi,

I've just joined the board, and I'm interested in buying a new MK3 Ford Focus in the US. I'll buy one with a manual transmission. I've heard all the issues with the Powershift ones, I'll pass... I'm currently driving a 2005 Ford Focus ZX3 with stick shift, and I like the way it drives... The reliability is average though, but there is one major issue with my car: it killed 3 alternators! One at 38k miles, another at 76k, and the last at 134k. And after reading a lot of information, I think the culprit is the position of the alternator. It's very close to the exhaust manifold, and it gets baked...eventually leading to failure. And the plastic heat shield in place is not enough to mitigate the problem.

So... My question is: does anybody know if the alternator in the MK3s is "better" placed? How close it to the exhaust manifold/catalytic converter? Is there a plastic heat shield? Is it different than the placement on my old 2005 Duratec 2.0 equipped Focus? I will need to know the answer to these questions, because I will not want to go through alternator hell again! Those things are not cheap to replace. As a matter of fact, my friend's BMW 325's alternator died around the same time, and the replacement price was the same: 570.

Thanks,
Laviniu


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Old 04-15-2015, 09:53 AM   #2
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The alternator is on the front of the engine and the exhaust is on the rear.
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Old 04-15-2015, 11:27 AM   #3
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Awesome! I think the MK3 with a manual transmission should be pretty reliable then... I'm still a bit skeptical about the GDI system, but I may take the bite. One other area of concern is the lack of ground clearance. How much is it? 4.75" ? But I may live with it... Or just get a Mazda 3 :) Not... They are pretty pricy, and I found you need to shift way too often in that car. Pretty much you have to drive with one hand around the town. The other one is on the shifter :) In Focus, you can be lazier...
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Old 04-15-2015, 11:54 AM   #4
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Nothing to be skeptical about when it comes to these GDI engines. Especially when coupled with the ti-vct. Performance and economy in one package.
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Old 04-15-2015, 12:05 PM   #5
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I'm a bit afraid the GDI system may lead to excessive carbon buildup on the back of the valves, because the fuel with the detergent mixture doesn't have the chance to "clean" the valves, since it's injected directly into the cylinder. At least that's my understanding. And this happens if one takes frequent short drives around town (rich initial mixture, no warm engine etc). Once the carbon buildup happens, the "fix" is to do induction cleaning... which is going to be the way to go on these Focus engines. Because there is no danger to damage the turbos during the induction cleaning process. Ecoboost engines... a totally different animal. Of course, to prevent the carbon buildup, the TI VCT and software "smarts" are employed to regulate the engine breathing, so it doesn't lead to carbon buildup on the back of the valves.

I'd better get a new Focus then, until the "man" puts Ecoboost engines in everything... I'll let that technology mature a bit more. That and the DCT... 10 years from now, maybe... :)
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Old 04-15-2015, 01:15 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by laviniut View Post
I'm a bit afraid the GDI system may lead to excessive carbon buildup on the back of the valves, because the fuel with the detergent mixture doesn't have the chance to "clean" the valves, since it's injected directly into the cylinder.

One would think that there would be little to no buildup on the valves since all that is passing through them is air......

When I rebuild the engine in my 69 Cougar back in 1988 or 89 (120-130,000 miles) there was no carbon or anything on any of the valves.
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Old 04-15-2015, 01:28 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sfhess View Post
One would think that there would be little to no buildup on the valves since all that is passing through them is air......

When I rebuild the engine in my 69 Cougar back in 1988 or 89 (120-130,000 miles) there was no carbon or anything on any of the valves.
The carbon buildup in gasoline direct injected engines is a very well known issue. Even the wiki page mentions it:

Gasoline direct injection - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

in the "Drawbacks section". Quoting:

"Although Direct Injection provides more power and efficiency, a carbon build-up occurs in the intake valves that over time reduces the airflow to the cylinders, and therefore reduces power. Fuel contains various detergents and can keep the intakes clean. When fuel is no longer being sprayed in the intake valves, small amounts of dirt from intake air cakes on the intake walls, even with air filters that prevent most of the dirt from entering the cylinder.[67] This build-up can become severe enough that a piece can break off and has been known to burn holes in catalytic converters.[68] It can also cause sporadic ignition failures.[68] These problems have been known for some time and technologies have been improved to reduce the carbon build-up."

Google the term "carbon buildup direct injection engines" and you'll find a ton of hits. The "fix" seems to be software/VCT/VVT... Driving the car hard and for long periods of time seem to not cause those buildups. That's why, Ford puts "show off" events in which they tear down an Ecoboost F-150 engine after having it worked in logging operations, towing etc. No problem there... Do short drives on cold engines around town... Carbon buildup. Cleaning? Induction for non-Ecoboost. For Ecoboost engines, Ford does not approve induction cleaning. It damages the turbo.
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Old 04-15-2015, 09:30 PM   #8
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So far, the valve timing "fix" for the problem Ford patented seems to be working.

At least it's better than other cars with known issues, as many posting on here have surpassed 100k without issue from carbon buildup on the intake valves.
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Old 04-15-2015, 09:46 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailor View Post
So far, the valve timing "fix" for the problem Ford patented seems to be working.

At least it's better than other cars with known issues, as many posting on here have surpassed 100k without issue from carbon buildup on the intake valves.
Yes, that seems to be the case. I won't be very concerned about it.
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Old 04-15-2015, 10:17 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailor View Post
So far, the valve timing "fix" for the problem Ford patented seems to be working.

At least it's better than other cars with known issues, as many posting on here have surpassed 100k without issue from carbon buildup on the intake valves.
Also... I don't want to research this in depth, because I don't really care... But is it Ford's fix, or Borg-Warner's? I'm pretty sure the TI-VCT system Ford employs is licensed from Borg-Warner. And that comes with the software as well. If you guys know more about it, feel free to fill in the details. It'll probably need another thread :)

What's actually interesting is that Ford is using a couple of technologies from Borg-Warner. One is the TI-VCT, and the other one is the turbos themselves in the Ecoboost engines. They are of advanced design, with low inertia, and even the cooling solution is very cleaver. I don't know whose idea was that...

And the other "potential" technology from Borg-Warner, but Ford chose to go with the competition, is the dual clutch transmission... Ford chose Getrag's dry clutch design as opposed to the wet clutch design from Borg-Warner, that is inside VW Golfs and GTIs... Probably due to cost. Or internal company politics? I'm wondering if they regret the decision, with all the money that go into TSBs and servicing of the DCTs. I wish I knew more about this. If somebody is more knowledgeable, feel free to add to the story.
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