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Chris_HT 06-02-2011 11:26 PM

just bought SPI powered 2001 LX
I have a problem - I bought Focus and I like it.

....thing is that it needs some care and I don't know much about cars, I usually just use it to get from point A to point B, and I used to look under the hood only when it was time to refill windshield cleaning liquid.

Since we (me and wifey) have just used all our money to buy her a Nissan Sentra (which is a neat little thing), I had a very tight budget and only 2 days time to get some car that would take me to work.

And that's it, take me to work and back, surviving a few months till I can afford something better.

Now, the only thing that fit into budget was this poor old Focus from 2001, and as I found out soon enough, you can't drive focus and not damn enjoy it.... so problem is that I like this car, and I would like to keep it for longer time, but it has some things I will need to fix.

I don't expect Focus Fanatic forums to replace a professional mechanic, but I would like to at least know what i'm talking about when I go to see one, and maybe even fix some of those things on my own.

I bought it from mechanic who also runs a small dealership, and what I was told about this car, is that it was crashed, front bumper and radiator messed up, airbags also went off, but previous owner didn't care about the engine so in the end it went 'tits up' and that's where the mechanic took it in, he has replaced front bumper, radiator, put in new alternator, and replaced engine with another SPI that supposedly is a bit over 90k.

What's left there to fix....

Interior Noise there is a low frequency noise inside the car that can really give one a headache after driving it for a while, what puzzles me is that from outside, and under the hood, it sounds OK, quiet enough, and only inside it gets so bad that I can't hear bass from the sound system because it gets suppressed by the noise.
-> It's worst when I first start car in the morning, and gets a little better as I drive it through the day.
-> the most noise I hear is at 1500-2000 rpm, which i'm guessing because I don't have the RPM gauge, at idle and on the freeway it's much better than in between.

Steering Steering in Focus is just awesome, it's so easy to handle and fun to drive, I can make a full U turn in places where much smaller cars need to to back up. But there is a problem with car going a little to the right if I let the steering wheel free.
-> drag to the right seems to be the same while driving as when braking.

Interior Wear On photo it actually looks much better than it really is.

It looks like it had no care for a long time, and was left exposed to sun, which left it with very dull colors, and just to make it worse, someone decided to use strong industrial cleaner to clean it out before selling, so he managed to wipe out most of the markings letters/numbers from the boards/buttons.
-> also, the leather-like bag cover of the e-brake is in very bad shape, with a big hole, and wanna know where I can get a replacement if i can't find one on junkyard (in Autozone I was told i need to go to dealership).

Air Bags well... there is no airbags, what can be done about it? Can I just install new airbags and replace airbag control module? If not then at least i'll try to get a new cover of where the passenger airbag was before, because the current ne is damaged and looks awful.

Misc there is many missing screws, some light bulbs, and a few places where rust started to eat through metal.

02fordsvt 06-03-2011 06:52 AM

How much are you willing to do yourself because it sounds like things could get expensive if you have to hire someone else to do a lot of the work. I would almost advise you if you like Foci so much to look for another car in better shape without the SPI engine. I have never owned one but a lot of people have had the engine try to destroy themselves. If you are willing to give the car the love and attention it needs though, all I can advise you on is the missing things (I'm not very mechanical either). Like you've said, a salvage yard will be the best place to find things without costing you much at all. Just take an inventory of what you want and start stripping. Good luck.

jmcrides03 06-03-2011 07:10 AM

your gonna get alot of owners of zetec foci who will tell you the spi is junk. the spi does have an issue with the valve seats dropping which will kill the motor. mine is just under 90000 miles and sees heavy abuse on a daily basis and she still runs great. most people who dont have a spi and never did but read all the threads automatically assume its a piece of junk, but alot of us who have or have had spis are pretty fond of them

02fordsvt 06-03-2011 07:22 AM


Originally Posted by jmcrides03 (Post 3693500)
most people who dont have a spi and never did but read all the threads automatically assume its a piece of junk, but alot of us who have or have had spis are pretty fond of them

I am a case in point I admit. It's one to those things where you here all the bad but rarely any good. Furthermore, almost any engine will run good and last if it is taken care of properly. The only thing is that you have no idea how well you engine was maintained and it already has 90 thousand on it. But I should stop trying to scare you because you do have a good chance that the engine can last for years.

Chris_HT 06-03-2011 12:39 PM

I've already read a bit about Focus on this forums, so I know about this SPIs 'timebomb', so I already look around checking prices of zetec at salvage yards.

For now the problems I listed are the ones i'm focusing on while motor last, with the interior noise being an issue number one, I really want to make it work... quietly :)

Trying to make interior look a little newer and fresh, I took out plastic interior vent covers, and the gearshift/e-brake cover, painted em, turned out good, and was able to assemble them without problem, tho the next day i noticed cracks on vent covers that i'm sure appeared overnight, after assembling em back.

I've also painted mirror caps following instructions i found here on FF forums, turned out good enough, but the surface is rough, and now I'm wondering how can i polish it without using sand paper (since work is already finished and clear coat applied and dry).

02fordsvt 06-03-2011 03:25 PM

Sounds like you are doing a good job recovering the car.

To smooth the surface of the mirrors, you can take fine wet sandpaper such as 1000 grit and lightly sand the surface of the clear coat being careful not to get down to the paint. For best results, you can sand and clear coat multiple times to get a nice reflective surface. You can tell how smooth its getting by looking at it in the sun or light: the dull surface being the smooth parts and the darker portions being the holes in the clear coat that hasn't been reached yet. It will look kind of like the surface of an orange until it is truly smooth. Lastly, you can use wax or polish to get a nice shine.

Top-Ace 06-07-2011 05:35 PM

You need to replace the head with a new or remanufactured ebay head $(250-400) that has the valve seat problem fixed. My current focus dropped the #4 valve seat at only 85,000 miles and destroyed the engine. Piston broke off the rod, and the rod beat a nice hole into the cylinder wall.

You could do a zetec swap, but I found a spi motor at a local junk yard that just wanted $350. We then pulled the head and had the old intake seats cut out with new oversized hardened ones pressed in. The exaust seats were also peened just in case.

Get that replaced before all your money gets thrown away.

Red01Focus 06-10-2011 12:28 PM

not sure about the interior noise as far as your steering sounds like you need to get the alignment done,as far as the airbags go, if you need to buy both let me know as i have spares from a car i parted out also have that ebrake boot,can you post pics of the rest spots? hope you get everything fixed, the focus is a great car

Chris_HT 10-06-2011 07:53 PM

Today I managed to lock the only car key that I have inside my Focus, so in process of searching for a way to open it without a key I came across FF forums, and after successfully stealing my own car with help of 2 credit cards and a hanger, decided to post a small update.

First, i found reason of the 'boeing 747 flying 10ft over me" noise and vibrations.... a nice pretty potato size hole in exhaust manifold + completely used out and useless motor/transmission supports that barely kept engine up not even dreaming of suppressing vibrations :D

cost me 460$ work +parts, but it came back perfect from mechanic, now I don't even want to sell it anymore... :P

I also painted mirror caps and interior elements like air vent borders and central column in nice silver color which made the car look much younger.

Now, there is another disturbing sound, at 40+ mph there is a punching sound and a vibration in steering, feels kinda like unbalanced wheel, but all of em are balanced so i suspect front left wheel bearing (i replaced right one some time ago cause it caused problems too).

FocusFreak09 10-06-2011 10:45 PM

Hey man, i noticed u live in houston. We have a big focus scene going on here in houston and we do alot of meets and hang out and work on cars. U should head over to the texas forum on this great site and maybe we can get a meet up and check out your car. I drive an spi to but i would have to sit in ur car and hear whatever ur talking about. Let us know if u need help/

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