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Old 11-28-2006, 12:15 PM   #1
mkaresh
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Ford Focus reliability

I felt reliability information could be much more useful, so a year ago I started collecting my own data. Differences from existing approaches will include reporting results in absolute, readily comparable numbers--like "times in the shop" and having quarterly rather than yearly updates.

I start collecting data on a model/model year when I have 25. Fords I'm already collecting data on include the Fusion (looks very good) and the Five Hundred / Freestyle (2006 looking much better than 2005).

With the Focus, I'm about halfway to the minimum for 2002, 2003, 2005, and 2006.

I personally recommend the Focus often to people looking at the Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris, and such. I think you get a more powerful, better handling car for less money. But it would be good to have some reliability stats for the car to go with my recommendation.

To encourage participation, people who sign up to help out will receive free access to detailed results.

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Vehicle reliability research

Comments and questions very welcome.


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Old 11-28-2006, 12:46 PM   #2
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why would you EVER recommend a ford over honda or toyota on terms of reliability?!?!?!(speaking from the exprinces i have had from cars)

the focus should be compared to civics, mazda 3s and such which they cant compare to cause ford hates the USA
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Old 11-28-2006, 12:59 PM   #3
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^^ He'd recommend it if collected data suggested a statistical likelyhood of reliability. Your counterpoint amount to the same as "I have a friend who had a Focus stolen off the street. My [Honda/Acura] has never been stolen. Therefor, Fords are stolen more often than [Honda/Acura]."

However, by the same token I'm dubious on hard data as collected from end users... while the machine we got might be fairly close to the same (and even that I doubt) the conditions under which they operate and the routine maintenance they receive could be so wildly different as to hurt the results. I'll check it out when I get home from work.
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Old 11-28-2006, 01:23 PM   #4
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I personally think reliability is to the eye of the beholder. Of course hard evidence is proven with statistical data, but nothing can replace a relationship you form with the vehicle. Obviously how well you maintain your vehicle plays a role, and aside from that statistics can be manipulated. There are obvious defects that plague every year, revision, and individual vehicle. Given that as a variable itself could throw the whole thing off. The reason Honda and Acura are so successful are due to the over-engineering of the power train of the vehicle. Not to mention the versatility of the individual components. Same thing with Volkswagen, engine’s are practically a straight swap with the vehicle aside from the motor mounts in both cases. You can take a MK-II Golf, and change components with an Audi 80, there are so many things that are backwards compatible with those companies in the early generations and still to this day that made it more profitable and gave the ability to put more detail and R&D into a vehicles components. Ford had made the mistake of completely designing vehicles on the whim such as the Contour. They created an entirely new platform, based marginally off the Taurus, and used new drive train components, and redesigned everything within the vehicle. Of course there would be hiccups. As you see Ford in the past decade especially had learned from the errors and is generating vehicles with its subdivisions with cross compatible parts, over engineered components, and cost effective sub component transferability. Originally Honda had this down due to the versatility of the hatchback front clip, all Civics, and early generation Accords. The entire front clip of the vehicles are virtually inter exchangeable. Almost all early Honda generated motors are transplantable, and use the same key components. Therefore keeping cost down, and allowing corrective engineering to play a role in a reliable product. Of course there are revisions and different designs that aren’t, this rule doesn’t mean you can take the car and transfer everything, but you understand the logic behind it. Once Ford’s recently retired COO ironed all the creases out of the processes there has been a better product.

Another thing is he says/ she says. People like to talk, and hype up what they own, you have a reason to be proud, its human nature. There are always amazing products by a company, and there is the lemon rule. There are factors that play into it, and most speculate as to the day a car was built and things like that. The fact is all components cannot be created equal. Things break, get fixed or tossed, it’s all a fact of like. I have been working Aircraft Maintenance for the past 3 years, if you think cars have problems, you should look into the history of an aircraft that’s 60 years old. Its just personal preference in the end, some things factor, but in the end it’s up to the rumors, gossip, and opinions.

My .02 cents.
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Old 11-28-2006, 01:45 PM   #5
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I don't have data on the Focus yet. CR says the Focus has average reliability, which suggests it's not bad. The difference between "average" and "better than average" is smaller than many people think. I'd like clearer information, though, hence my research.

With any model, some cars have problems. I'm currently seeing a repair rate for the 2006 Civic that is about the same as that for the typical domestic car, and over twice what I'm seeing for the 2006 Fusion. Most of the reported problems probably would not be reported on CR's survey because they are relatively small, but they required the inconvenience of a trip to the shop nonetheless.

My approach has a couple of advantages over existing approaches:
1. Continuous participation
2. Only report problems that happen after the decision to participate (except for the very first month)
3. Clear definition of what counts as a reportable problem

While it's not possible to entirely remove subjectivity and bias, I'm doing much more to remove them than others have been. For example, CR asks people to report problems they "considered serious." It's up to every respondent to decide what counts and what doesn't count.

In response to the "statistics can be manipulated," I hope to make the process as transparent as possible. If someone has a question about the work behind the numbers, I'll answer as best I can. I've asked questions on the CR forum; they rarely if ever provide thorough responses to questions about their methods.

As for different driving styles and driving conditions, these should only affect a small portion of the things that go wrong on a car. For example, many problems these days are electrical, which shouldn't be affected by driving style or conditions.

To get more specific, here are the last ten problems reported:
--TSB for transmission hesitation; large improvement from reflash
--paint peeling on panel above back tire, common issue with this model
--transmission failure
--rear window would go down but not back up
--squeaky driver's seat
--screws that hold high-mounted brake light missing, never installed
--mass airflow sensor replaced
--A/C switch malfunctioning
--HVAC air distribution servo motors hunting for position with car turned off
--blocked vent line in gas tank

Of these, only the one for the transmission failure might be due to how the car was driven.

For those areas that can be affected by driving style and conditions, a large sample is important. I'm going to have to start with smaller sample sizes than I expect to eventually have.
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Old 11-28-2006, 01:55 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SVT Robzor View Post
^^ He'd recommend it if collected data suggested a statistical likelyhood of reliability. Your counterpoint amount to the same as "I have a friend who had a Focus stolen off the street. My [Honda/Acura] has never been stolen. Therefor, Fords are stolen more often than [Honda/Acura]."

However, by the same token I'm dubious on hard data as collected from end users... while the machine we got might be fairly close to the same (and even that I doubt) the conditions under which they operate and the routine maintenance they receive could be so wildly different as to hurt the results. I'll check it out when I get home from work.

:P never had a car stolen to be honest. but i own(ed) both ford and honda. worked on both and i can tell you which *I* have seen and had more problems from my own personal date.


i do want to help yoru site and have joined it :)
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Old 11-28-2006, 02:29 PM   #7
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Thanks.

I've also had personal experiences. The Mazda I currently drive has been reliable, the only repair so far an ABS sensor. The PT Cruiser my wife drives just required a new torque converter and transmission pump at 52,000 miles.

But the weakest part of my research is that I'm starting out with small sample sizes of a couple dozen cars. This is a borderline number. As an individual, you can only own one or two examples of a model, and you might hear about 5-10 others. So can I reach any valid conclusions about repair rates from my personal experience?

Clearly, every PT Cruiser doesn't have the torque converter fail early. But how many do? I have no idea.

I think many people are less interested in average repair rates--none of which are especially scary--than in the odds of getting a lemon. It will require especially large sample sizes to report these odds, but I intend to do it when I can.
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Old 11-28-2006, 03:42 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KillaLude View Post
why would you EVER recommend a ford over honda or toyota on terms of reliability?!?!?!(speaking from the exprinces i have had from cars)

the focus should be compared to civics, mazda 3s and such which they cant compare to cause ford hates the USA
He's not saying it is more reliable, but Ford is better than you think.

What he is saying is that you get good reliablility, great handling, and an unbeatable price.

With Honda and Toyota you get great reliability, good to great handling, but for A LOT more money.

The Honda fit starts at about 15k. For that amount you could get in a LOADED ses (leather, power everything, SAP) or a well-optioned ST. My well-optioned SES (CD changer, auto, air, heated seats and mirrors) went out the door at 12,263. A corolla or civic with similar options would cost around 7 grand more.

So his point is that you could get a reliable car (though not as reliable as honda or toyota) for 50% less.

And ford doesn't hate the US, they just haven't turned a profit on a compact car since the pinto (and we know how that ended!). That's why you see them focus on pickup truck sales (they make money on them). If they really thought they could sell the euro focus here for 21k (base model) they would bring it here in a heartbeat. Their marketing tells them otherwise.
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Old 11-28-2006, 03:46 PM   #9
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Sundaydriver, couldn't have said it better myself.

I'd personally love to have a Ford S-Max. (I've got three small kids.) But would I pay as much for it as they charge in Europe?

Ford will bring its European models here, but restyled and rebadged as Volvos.

I previously owned a 1996 Ford Contour SE V6, which was before they started decontenting the car. Amazing car for the price, much more solidly constructed than the Mazda I now drive. Not hard to see how they lost so much money on it.

Still waiting to see how GM will profitably sell Opels here as Saturns.
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Old 11-29-2006, 11:02 AM   #10
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Quote:
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Sundaydriver, couldn't have said it better myself.

I'd personally love to have a Ford S-Max. (I've got three small kids.) But would I pay as much for it as they charge in Europe?

Ford will bring its European models here, but restyled and rebadged as Volvos.

I previously owned a 1996 Ford Contour SE V6, which was before they started decontenting the car. Amazing car for the price, much more solidly constructed than the Mazda I now drive. Not hard to see how they lost so much money on it.

Still waiting to see how GM will profitably sell Opels here as Saturns.
I agree! S-max is an awesome vehicle. I like the 3 across seating in the middle row. You can fold the rear seats down for enhanced cargo and still have room for the 3 kids. Much cooler than a minivan.
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