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Old 05-11-2013, 11:51 PM   #1
daenerys
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Question First Car for Teen to get to work

Oh Wise Focus Fans: I am an aspiring Focus owner hoping for advice. My teen needs a first car to get to work, and for vacations from college.

Choice 1: 2006 ZX5 SE - which may or may not have ABS and Side Air Bags. I've tried to get the original window sticker but it doesnt come up and the VIN analysis is not clear. 150,000 miles! and $5000 all in (dealer)

Choice 2: 2007 ZX3 S - Got original sticker from website and it seems to have ABS and Side airbags. 80,000 miles. $6900 all in (private) Interior a bit more trashed out. Alternator just replaced.

1. How long will a Focus last? The 150000 miles seems a bit high.
2. Two kids in college so dont want to spend money I dont have to but if more money upfront is worth it then ....

Thanks!


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Old 05-12-2013, 12:03 AM   #2
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Choice 2, lower starting mileage is always better, or keep shopping around for a better deal. Plus an interior is easier to clean/fix than some other parts on a car with almost double the mileage. Also, check carfax's on both cars.
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Old 05-12-2013, 01:01 AM   #3
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choice 2 def, i checked autotrader here for similar cars theres 5grand for 150,000 miles is way too much. theres some around here with 70,000 miles loaded minus leather/sunroof for like $7-8000.
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Old 05-12-2013, 02:00 AM   #4
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number 2, buying higher miles just means having to replace sooner.
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Old 05-12-2013, 03:12 AM   #5
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Another thing to keep in mind. The zx5 is a 4 door hatch back, zx3 is a 2 door hatch. They will both have the same wheel base and interior room so it won't matter which unless they don't want to get out of the car to let people in and out of the backseat.

From 05 and up they all had the 2.0 duratec engine standard except the ZX4 ST which came with the 2.3 a bit more power. The duratec is the most reliable of the focus engines. If you keep up good maintenance the car will last a long time.
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Old 05-12-2013, 06:11 AM   #6
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Great Advice

Thanks you guys are great.... and very consistent. Lets hope I can get the 2 door at the right price and that the mechanic says its in good shape. Anything I should be watching out for on the 07 Manual Hatchback ZX3? Was there some kind of recommended service at the 80K mark?
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Old 05-12-2013, 08:18 AM   #7
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Nothing too major, check the fluids, brakes, if the serpentine belt has been done, check the spark plugs, basically just service/maintenance stuff.
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Old 05-12-2013, 10:14 AM   #8
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I'm leery of the alternator replacement, but I'd take the one with lower mileage also. Replacing the alternator with the wrong alternator will cause you more problems in several months. We've had more than one FF who bought a "lifetime" alternator from a parts store, then had to replace it every 3 months. We recommend new Motorcraft, or locally rebuilt alternators only.

Things to look for:

1) If you hear a noise from an 05+ Focus that sounds like valves, it is not valves. You can correctly diagnose this issue using a mechanic's stethoscope, and you will find out that the valve cover is quiet. The noise comes from the intake manifold. To repair that noise, the intake manifold must be replaced. However, I have been driving around for about 70k miles with the noise, and there hasn't been any damage. Basically it's a flap inside each runner that opens and closes to mitigate velocity of the air through the plenum. Over time the flaps wear out and contact the sides of the intake making the noise. Intake manifolds can be ordered from our Ford parts vendor Village Ford, or found in our BST section where I got one for $100. I'd expect about $300 for a new manifold.

2) These cars don't have spark plug wires, but there are coil boots. Under the individual coils there is a boot that connects the spark plug to the coil. These do wear out. I changed mine at 80k. Cost is $5-8 per boot. I also recommend replacing 100k mile platinum spark plugs at 80k.

3) Check the air cleaner. The factory air cleaner from 05-07 was a "lifetime" filter. It may have been replaced by the previous owner with either an aftermarket CAI, SRI, or simply a cone filter on the end of the MAF tube.

4) Manual transmission vehicles will have a knocking sound with the clutch pedal up and the transmission in neutral. The sound will go away when the clutch pedal is pushed down. This is normal, and no damage or repair is required. It is simply the release bearing rattling between the pressure plate and the slave cylinder. No damage will occur, I have over 100k miles with mine making that noise. Some cars won't make the noise, but what you have in there is a metal release bearing glued to a plastic slave cylinder. Sometimes the glue holds forever, most of the time it doesn't. Slave cylinder replacement is required with each clutch change as with any hydraulic clutch.

5) Sway bar end links. These make a rattling sound over bumps at parking lot speeds. At higher speeds the sound is muffled. Ford uses a ball joint and rod end link instead of bushings and rods. When the links are old, they make that rattling noise. New end links are $20-40 ea, and easy to change. The good thing about these is that even when the link is rattling, it is still doing it's job unlike the bushing/rod style where when you hear the rattle the link is not performing it's function.

6) Rear brake squeal and squeak. The drum brakes tend to make a lot of noise in these cars. Brake parts grease must be applied to the backing plate at the 4 contact points to alleviate this noise. It won't last forever. To disassemble the drum brakes for replacement, the best method to remove the drum is to unbolt the hub from the backing plate. There are 4 bolts on the back side of the plate that hold the hub in place. These are torqued to 35 ft-lbs. The hub will come off with the drum, and this will not affect the bearings. To remove the hub nut requires 192 ft-lbs. This puts a lot of strain on the suspension parts because there is no good way to put a jack under the suspension in the back.
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Old 05-12-2013, 04:00 PM   #9
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Or you can get a MK1 (00-04) for cheaper, even with lower mileage. Even in NYC's silly overpriced market, I paid 6K for a nearly loaded 03 ZX3 last year.
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Old 05-12-2013, 10:50 PM   #10
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I have 131,000 miles on mine no issues still runs and drives great.
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