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Old 06-13-2013, 12:25 PM   #1
salguod
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2003 Reliability & Common Trouble Spots

Hello. I'm helping a friend buy a used car and she's considering a 2003 Focus sedan with 100K and an automatic for $2K. I don't know anything else about the car yet.

I didn't realize they started selling them in 2000, they must have sold along side the Escort, right? I'm familiar with the reliability of the Escorts, I had an excellent '93 and my daughter has a '98 that's been pretty good. I had heard somewhere that the early Focuses were troublesome, were most of the issues worked out by '03?

What should I look out for in an '03?

Thanks.


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Old 06-13-2013, 03:59 PM   #2
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Most of the bugs were worked out by the time the 02 models came out (The fuel pump problem comes to mind). Although the SOHC SPI motors are still troublesome. I would avoid that motor as its just a matter of time.
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Old 06-13-2013, 09:42 PM   #3
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Thanks, I think my daughter's '98 as a version of that engine. 2.0 SPI? How do I tell which engine it has?

What about the timing belt? Are the available engines clearance engines? I know the Escort 2.0 is.

I did learn that it's a 5 speed and has non-functional AC. We're looking at it tomorrow.
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Old 06-13-2013, 10:04 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by salguod View Post
Hello. I'm helping a friend buy a used car and she's considering a 2003 Focus sedan with 100K and an automatic for $2K. I don't know anything else about the car yet.

I didn't realize they started selling them in 2000, they must have sold along side the Escort, right? I'm familiar with the reliability of the Escorts, I had an excellent '93 and my daughter has a '98 that's been pretty good. I had heard somewhere that the early Focuses were troublesome, were most of the issues worked out by '03?

What should I look out for in an '03?

Thanks.
They actually replaced the escort. I bought (sold) myself an '03 and had I not gone crazy bolting aftermarket parts on it; it would've been trouble free for the better part of a decade.

On the other hand; my Mother bought a '99m.y. in '98, and her car has had to get one or two recall items taken care of; but they were changed because she knew about them... not because they broke. Her car has been VERY reliable the entire time she's had it. I've been detailing it the whole time and it looks great still (regular maintenance & cleaning ANY car are key). Now I'm a tech and help with fixes, but it doesn't have major breaks because she's on top of the maintenance.

The better the records and care the car was given; the better it will be into the future. Just make sure the machine is cared for when parts get old: it'll run forever if you do.
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Old 06-13-2013, 10:16 PM   #5
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The older SPI motors in the Escort did not have the issues the Focus did.
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Old 06-14-2013, 08:34 AM   #6
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The older SPI motors in the Escort did not have the issues the Focus did.
I've read on the Escort forums that a common issue with the Escort 2.0 is a dropped valve seat. I'm crossing my fingers that I don't have that problem with my daughter's. What is the common problem with the Focus SPI engine?

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They actually replaced the escort.
That was my assumption, however I see the Focus started in the 2000 model year and I've seen Escorts for sale as new as the 2002 MY, so they must have been sold side by side for a couple of years.

---

So, digging around here, there's some debate about timing belts, however, it seems the SPI & Zetec engines are clearance (except the SVT Zetec) and the Duratec is not, but has a chain. Is that right? How can I tell what engine it has?

Thanks for the help everyone.
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Old 06-14-2013, 09:29 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by salguod View Post
So, digging around here, there's some debate about timing belts, however, it seems the SPI & Zetec engines are clearance (except the SVT Zetec) and the Duratec is not, but has a chain. Is that right? How can I tell what engine it has?
All correct.

Pop the hood and check against the pictures in this link: Identifying Your Engine - Focus Hacks
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Old 06-14-2013, 10:25 AM   #8
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Excellent, thanks. That SPI looks just like my daughter's '98.

It looks like it could have any of the 3 - SPI, Zetec or Duratec.
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Old 06-14-2013, 10:31 AM   #9
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If it happens to have the 2.3L (quite unlikely), buy it!
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Old 06-14-2013, 01:07 PM   #10
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'99 was the first year the Focus was in dealer lots; '98 must've been the last year for Escorts... I don't believe they overlapped; but then again, I wasn't selling 'em back then.
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