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Old 02-16-2013, 06:26 PM   #1
b2tamer
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Spi question

So I've been reading around about the spi and about the problems, so here's my question. I have a great running engine right now and I would rather not swap engines, I want to just try to make mine so it doesn't have the valve seat problem. I heard there is a head out there that I can buy that fixes this problem? So if I did this would I just have to replace the head or what? As much information about this as I can get would be greatly appreciated!

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Old 02-20-2013, 02:19 PM   #2
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SPI Question

I have a similar question to b2tamer. My wife and I just purchased a 2000 Ford Focus with 113K miles on it. It obviously has the 2.0L SPI head on it, and is running well. Previous owner didn't know of any major work that has been done to it. I did notice a Gates timing belt replacement sticker on the timing belt cover, but I don't know if they only replaced the timing belt, or if head work was done as well. I am aware of the remanufactured heads on EBay, and thought about going that route, or possibly pulling the head and having a shop do the repair while everything still runs well.
I have done some research on the topic, and I have a couple of questions:
1. I called a local machine shop that is AERA certified (thanks to a different posting on this forum for the link), and he said that not all heads drop the valves. He also said that the ones that he has seen in his shop don't usually cause damage to the cylinder walls or piston. Is this true? I was under the impression that it was an inherent design flaw and that all of the heads were going to have this issue at one time or another?
2. Is there any way to determine whether or not the valve seat job had been done to the head, prior to me owning the vehicle, without removing the head? Can I take the valve cover off and determine that the 'fix' had been performed by comparing the intake seats to the exhaust seats possibly?
3. Aside from the head issues, are there any other common issues with these engines that I can correct now to avoid the problem down the road?

Sorry for the long post, and thanks to everyone on here, its a great forum!
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Old 02-20-2013, 02:29 PM   #3
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I am also wondering about changing the timing belt, when should I do that? My car has just about 117k on it now and as far as I know it has never been changed. Any input on these questions would be great. Thank you in advance.

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Old 02-20-2013, 04:01 PM   #4
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I am not the most knowledgable person on this forum, but I can give my answers for now...

Quote:
Originally Posted by b2tamer
So I've been reading around about the spi and about the problems, so here's my question. I have a great running engine right now and I would rather not swap engines, I want to just try to make mine so it doesn't have the valve seat problem. I heard there is a head out there that I can buy that fixes this problem? So if I did this would I just have to replace the head or what? As much information about this as I can get would be greatly appreciated!
replacing the head with a new head prevents the dropped valve seat, if you choose to do so. there is a lot of people who have done this who would be much more knowledgable than me, so search for their info....

I personally have decided not to replace the head. for me, it does not make sense to tear apart a strong running motor to prevent a problem that may or may not happen while I own it. Of course, I have the advantage of being the only owner of my car and knowing it has always been well taken care of, so I hope that will get me a little farther down the road, but only time will tell for sure.


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Originally Posted by 2000FordFocusAZ View Post
1. I called a local machine shop that is AERA certified (thanks to a different posting on this forum for the link), and he said that not all heads drop the valves. He also said that the ones that he has seen in his shop don't usually cause damage to the cylinder walls or piston. Is this true? I was under the impression that it was an inherent design flaw and that all of the heads were going to have this issue at one time or another?
The valve seat is a very common fault. There are not some years or models that have the problem and some that do not. But some seem to drop the seat earlier, and some much later. I would dare to say that the actual percentage of SPI's that drop the valve seat appears inflated on the forum simply because people with problems are more likely to post than people without problems. Many intelligent and well informed people will disagree with this statement, but there seems to be no hard proof either direction.

As for damage to the cylinder walls or pistons, that seems to be hit or miss. Some people have had to do full engine swaps, some have gotten away with just new head, pistons, rods, etc.

Quote:
2. Is there any way to determine whether or not the valve seat job had been done to the head, prior to me owning the vehicle, without removing the head? Can I take the valve cover off and determine that the 'fix' had been performed by comparing the intake seats to the exhaust seats possibly?
you can pull off the valve cover and look to see if the head seems 13 years old or not. but I don't know if you can tell for sure without removing the head.

Quote:
3. Aside from the head issues, are there any other common issues with these engines that I can correct now to avoid the problem down the road?
Other than the valve seat, this is a very strong and reliable motor. There seems to be only one common flaw, unfortunately, it is a very major (very expensive) flaw.
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Old 02-20-2013, 04:08 PM   #5
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I am also wondering about changing the timing belt, when should I do that? My car has just about 117k on it now and as far as I know it has never been changed. Any input on these questions would be great. Thank you in advance.
Check your maintenance schedule, but this looks like it recommends replacement of the camshaft belt (timing belt) at 120k miles

http://www.focusplanet.com/downloads...ance_guide.pdf
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Old 02-21-2013, 06:00 AM   #6
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Thanks crazy_urn, I'm kinda under the same impression. If its not broke don't fix it. I think I will continue to be super diligent on my routine maintenance and pay attention to any signs of a possible valve problem, and try to correct it early if it does start to happen.
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Old 02-21-2013, 06:24 AM   #7
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I would change the belt at least.

As mentioned, you won't be able to tell if the seats were changed unless you pulled the head... and even then, unless you have the documentation, I would assume it hasn't been done.

And yes it does depend on the damage. it will destroy a single piston at least. I actually drove mine into the shop to pull the engine. Later, I pulled it apart and was shocked to see only about an inch in height of the piston left. Others have had a rod through the block. The other pistons might get some dings in them, but as long as the top ring still moves freely, it can be reused. The ring was smashed (compressed) into place on the damaged piston.

Mileage? that depends. greatly.
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Old 02-21-2013, 09:45 AM   #8
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If it has not happened to you IT WILL eventually, show me a KNOWN 200K+ mile SPI that has not had the head fixed, you wont find one. The SPI's are well capable of 200+k miles, just not with the orig head, it has seen 1000's of hot/cold cycles by then. Mine made it to 173k miles before it dropped and my last focus did it at 98k miles.
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Old 02-21-2013, 10:22 AM   #9
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If it has not happened to you IT WILL eventually, show me a KNOWN 200K+ mile SPI that has not had the head fixed, you wont find one. The SPI's are well capable of 200+k miles, just not with the orig head, it has seen 1000's of hot/cold cycles by then. Mine made it to 173k miles before it dropped and my last focus did it at 98k miles.
Just out of curiosity I searched auto trader for 2000-2004 foci with over 200K miles anywhere in the country. I know it is not a scientific survey, but I found the results interesting.

There were 14 foci for sale with over 200k miles. Here is the breakdown by model:
zx3 - 1
zx5 - 0
zts - 2
se sedan - 7
se wagon - 2
lx sedan - 2

Of course, the adds did not list motor types on the SE foci, and did not mention whether the engine had been changed or not.

I found it interesting that 2 out of 14 definitely had the SPI, 3/14 definitely did not have the SPI, and 9/14 may or may not have had the SPI.

Of course I cannot prove it, but I would bet that at least one of them has the original motor.

when you consider that a 2000 focus would have to average 16,667 miles per year to be at 200k, and a 2004 would have to average 28,571/year it does not surprise me that we do not see a lot of 200K+ SPIs. BTW - the average milage driven by americans is 13,476. (I am at about 13k/year)

I know this is a major issue, but I do not think we can prove that every single SPI will drop a valve seat.
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Old 02-21-2013, 01:20 PM   #10
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Of course, the adds did not list motor types on the SE foci, and did not mention whether the engine had been changed or not.
Exactly, im willing to bet that somewhere down the line they were fixed, there are 2 local pull a part junk yards near me with EASILY 60 escorts and Focus (less of the Focus's of course) in there, 9 out of 10 have the valve seat drop issue, the other 1 out of 10 were in wrecks (and thus the motors are gone, mainly by me), pretty sad cause most only have 110k miles on them and are in nice shape.
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