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Old 05-13-2014, 05:33 PM   #1
mellybear
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Valve Seat - preemptive fix?

Hi all!

I'm pretty new to the forums, and the fairly new owner of a 2004 Focus SE - I just bought the car last year from a local Ford dealership. My Focus only has about 62500 miles (102500 kilometers) on it and when I was doing some research to find out the recommended mileage for a timing belt replacement (so I can budget for it beforehand) I stumbled upon the threads discussing the common problem of the valve seat dropping on SPI engines.

I am hoping to have this car for a good long while, my previous car was an Escort with over 200,000 miles and I'm hoping to hold on to this new Focus for almost as long.

I know that the valve seat issue is pretty much a "when" not "if" it will happen, so I'm wondering if you all would recommend a preemptive strike, so to speak, before the valve seat has a chance to drop and potentially ruin the engine. And, as far as I can tell from all the threads, the only 2 options to fix this potential problem is to either replace the entire cylinder head with one that doesn't have the valve seat defect or swap-in a zetec engine. I don't think the engine swap is a viable option, so I'm looking into what my options are for replacing the cylinder head.

I spoke to a machine shop and their machinist actually knew about the issue since they had it happen with their delivery vehicle (which happens to be a Focus). They told me I'd be looking at about $500 for the cylinder head and then another $400-500 to have it installed.

What would you guys recommend?


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Old 05-13-2014, 06:12 PM   #2
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What you have read is correct. either a new head or new engine. But the price you were quoted seems a bit high.

A remanufactured head should run about $300 in parts or so from ebay. headsonly has been very popular, but you can search for other options. A valve seat drop will cost you about $800 in parts, if one seat drops, which is most common. Zetec swap in parts will be roughly equivalent in cost with a good donor car, but it is obviously much more involved.

Some have chosen to take the $500 gamble and not swap the head. I am one of them.
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Old 05-13-2014, 08:13 PM   #3
mellybear
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The high quote for the parts may be due to the fact that I live in Canada and EVERYTHING is more expensive up here. I tried calling the Ford dealership I bought the car from and they denied there was even an issue with the SPI engine and the valve seats dropping; I was basically told if there was a major issue there would've been a recall for the affected cars and I would've received a notice in the mail.

If I did decide to replace the cylinder head, where would I go to get a replacement (either new or remade)? I know there are a lot of places online to purchase them, but living in Canada I can't even begin to imagine how much I would be charged for shipping not to mention the taxes/duties when it crosses the border.

I'm kind of hesitant to take the gamble and wait & see if it breaks because of the risk that it may damage the engine to the point it would have to be rebuilt, replaced, or just scraped. I kind of wish I had some friends who were mechanically inclined to help save the cost of the labor involved to have a shop replace it the cylinder head for me.
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Old 05-14-2014, 10:56 AM   #4
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These guys say they ship worldwide, you would have to contact them about cost: http://www.ebay.com/itm/NEW-FORD-FOC...db057#shpCntId

The other head sources I have heard good things about do not ship to Canada. Just make sure you don't get a Ford head, since they do not acknowledge there is a problem, I believe they have not corrected their heads.
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Old 05-15-2014, 10:04 AM   #5
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http://www.shop.headsonly.com/FORD-F...ALVES-ONLY.htm

this one is fairly cheap ($225) and it's a reputable source. ship to a US address and drive there to pick it up, then pay a shop for the labour. valvetrain components (cam, rocker arms, etc.) should be swapped over.

when I buy stuff from the US, I ship to a mailbox service called Detroit Mailbox, but only because I'm often in the Windsor area. I guess the Niagara Falls/Fort Erie/Buffalo area would be closer for you, but I don't know if there are any similar mailbox services on the US side in that area. you do have to pay duties upon crossing the border back into Canada, but you definitely save on shipping costs.
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Old 05-20-2014, 10:48 PM   #6
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Thanks for all of the information! I actually have family who live in the States since I'm actually from there originally so if I do decide to purchase a cylinder head with the defect fixed I would probably have it sent to them and either have them bring it up or pick it up from them when I next visit.
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Old 05-21-2014, 01:42 AM   #7
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Did your Escort have the same type engine, SPI, they suffered from the valveseat issue too. Or did it have the ZETEC. Congrats to having it for 200k miles and avoiding the issue if it was an SPI.
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Old 05-21-2014, 10:45 AM   #8
mellybear
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I'm pretty sure it was a SPI engine, so I guess I was extremely lucky :)

It was a really good little car, I hated trading it in.
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