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Old 05-28-2004, 12:59 PM   #1
infinitime
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Question Need Advice on whether to buy a Focus.

I am thinking of purchasing a 2004 Focus LX with the 4 speed automatic as the only option. I have looked at what seems to be every car in this price range (think Civic, Corolla, Sentra, Lancer, Elantra, Mazda3, Optra, Cavalier, Spectra)... and the Focus seems to be a great deal (with automatic for about Canadian$14,000, before taxes)... the automatic will be the only option on this base car, as I intend to use it just for basic transportation.

Now, I did have a few questions, which I hope the members on this forum would be able to answer.

1) I have read the reliability reports for all the above-noted models, the Focus seems to be slightly below average in reliability, I would like input as to the type of things that have gone wrong and how serious it was (i.e. I would tolerate the occasional trim piece coming loose, but probably would be reluctant to a car that had a bad powertrain);

2) related to the first question, what is the reliability of the 2.0L SPI engine? is this the same 2L that was in the Escort? Was this originally a Mazda design? I know that its only got 8 valves, but what about the other specs? i.e. timing chain or belt? balance shafts? general reliability? I've heard/read some sorry tales about this unit stalling in idle? does anyone have further particulars;

3) What type of automatic transmission is it? Does anyone know the exact model number? is this unit manufactured inhouse by ford, or is it another Mazda part from the protégé./Escort era? I've had experiences with Mazda transmissions in the past, and am generally not overly impressed iwth them, they then to give out at about 100,000kms,

4) Where is the car manufactured? where is the powertrain manufactured? I've heard some say Mexico, and others tell me that its manufactured in the US?

5) Silly question, are the doors plastic? or are they made of metal (aluminum or steel alloy?)

6) Any notable problems iwth the electrical system on these cars?

Anyhow, thanks in advance for your patience in reading this, and in any helpful input you may be able to offer! Looking forward to becoming a regular on this forum!


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Old 05-28-2004, 01:08 PM   #2
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wow.. thats a lot of questions, just research it..
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Old 05-28-2004, 01:12 PM   #3
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1. After 2002, they are pretty reliable.
2. I don't know, I have the Zetec, which is a much better engine.
3. Don't know.
4. Some in Mexico, some in U.S.
5. Metal.
6. Not that I know of.
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Old 05-28-2004, 02:00 PM   #4
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the care you are looking at is fine your warenty will cover any problems that you could aquire. I qould sujest going to the dealership nearest you and testdriving the car. No stalling problems that I have heard of with this engine. If you maintain the car it will be good to you.
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Old 05-28-2004, 02:57 PM   #5
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The car you are looking at would be good basic tranportation that will give you many miles of trouble free driving maybe. I say maybe because all cars have problems from time to time. Japanese cars too. Sometimes it is the luck of the draw.
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Old 05-28-2004, 03:04 PM   #6
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1. There have been no recalls on either the 2003-2004 models, after full production years (since the 05s are out)...
2. Therefore I would say it's a pretty reliable engine. I don't believe the SOHC 2.0 is a Mazda collaboration, but I could be wrong. I've never heard any horror stories of the SPI, at least not since 2000-2001.
3. Don't know which ATX it is. I ahve a 2003 zx3 with the auto, I could check if you really needed to know, I don't know where else that info would be listed other than in the manual.
4. Since you're thinking of an LX, it must be the sedan, and as far as I know all those were manufactured in the USA. Some hatchbacks (like mine) were assembled in Hermosillo, MX but those haven't shown a disproportionate or significant number of problems, so I think either way you're fine.
5. The doors are metal, though I don't know which materials- I would guess steel, I think the fenders are steel.
6. Electrical system seems to be bug-free, or at least not enough cars have had an issue that I remember anyone here asking about it... Check this site (search for TSBs or recalls by vehicle) or the Focus Technical Chat forum here and scroll through to see if anything sounds suspicious.

Overall, I'd say go with the Focus, it has shown to be very reliable after its introdcution and it will make you happy as a daily driver, even with the auto transmission it gets good gas mileage and is just plain fun. If you can though, I'd try to get my hands on a DOHC 2.0 = the Zetec, just a bit more pep with the 16 valves.
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Old 05-28-2004, 03:32 PM   #7
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I had a long reply, but it got confusing.

Buy any car you want and take care of it the way the manufacturer wants you to, and you will have a reliable vehicle.

In the end they are made by a mix of humans and machines and sometimes something goes wrong, but that is never what anyone wants which is why there is a warranty.

With today's technology, there isn't a single car maker that can't offer you a quality reliable product.
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Old 05-28-2004, 03:35 PM   #8
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Whatever you were planning to write eggyolk, it sounds like you got it down well in that concise little post. I agree, really any car made with today's technology will run well if you take care of it, barring the occasional lemon, but those can never be predicted. Hope you get a Focus or that you enjoy whichever car you choose.
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Old 05-28-2004, 03:39 PM   #9
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i have e focus se (zetec) and it's been wonderful since i've bought it.

1.It is a reliable car.
2.I saw on car and driver that this car was similar to not the mazda3 but the mazda6.
3.Don't know
4.I've been to the mexican factory in Hermosillo and was told they don't do lx models.
5.Doors are metal.
6.Never had any electrical problesms with mine or heard of any.


The only thing I would advise you to look out for is breaks they tend to make noise on some models.But if you take care of your care,you shouldn't have any problems.
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Old 05-28-2004, 05:52 PM   #10
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1) very reliable
2) the SPI is a version of the escort engine directly from 1997 up. The zetec is not "a much better engine" The zetec has 20 more hp. That is it's only advantage. My personal experiance is the SPI is quieter. It has no balance shaft. It is a Ford engine not mazda. It's a desendant from the CHV engines in the original escort, but it is different in a lot of ways. (no head cracks)
3) no idea... to boring for me
4) sedans made in Wayne Michigan. Hatches made in Mexico. In 2005 ALL focus will be made in Michigan
5) all body panels are steel
6) no known electrical problems
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