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Old 05-20-2014, 10:58 PM   #1
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Problem with screws/bolts on the Air Filter Housing

I've had my 2004 Focus for about a year now and I decided to try to check the air filter to see if it needed to be replaced. Unfortunately it looks like the circular bolts on 2 of the screws have detached from the air filter housing so instead of loosening the screws just spin freely.

I need help figuring out how to get these screws out so I can check (and replace) the air filter! Why the heck did Ford use a circular bolt!?!? I would prefer to NOT have to replace the entire housing since from what I've been able to find you can only get the part through Ford and they charge an arm & a leg for it.

Any suggestions?

I've already tried to use a pair of pliers to grip the bolt, but I wasn't able to get a good grip on it so it kept spinning.

Assuming I'm able to get the cover off, I plan on replacing the bolts with hexagonal ones so that they'll be easier to grip in the future. But, as I said, I have no idea how to actually get the screws out!

Please help.


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Old 05-21-2014, 01:35 AM   #2
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It maybe possibly that the previous owner could have replace them for whatever reason -lost or misplaced-.

Can you get a flat head screw driver under the bolts head and lift it up some to get a better grip on the head? Maybe I'm not quite seeing the dilemma. All four of mine have a hex/regular screw driver combo head.
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Old 05-21-2014, 06:36 AM   #3
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The head of the screw/bolt isn't the provlem, the bottom is. There is a piece that is syuposd to be attached to the plastic of the housing...a circular but...that has become detached. As a result when you try to turn the screw it just keeps spinning in place and doesn't loosen, making it impossible to open the housing cover to access the filter.

So I'm trying to get suggestions on how to work around this issue.
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Old 05-21-2014, 10:50 AM   #4
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I had my car in for an oil change yesterday, so I stopped by Meineke on my way into work this morning. Apparently the mechanic who did the oil change did notice that the 2 screws were broken and they just forgot to mention it to me when I paid.

I was told to bring it back to them after I'm done with work today and the guy I talked to said they'll probably cut the screws and just replace them with new ones. I'll have to mention to them that they'll need to replace the bolt down the bottom as well so the screws will actually stay in place.

This was a very poor design on Ford's part. Why make something that can break so easily which then makes it impossible to access the filter!
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Old 05-21-2014, 02:23 PM   #5
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It sounds like you're talking about nuts molded into the filter case.

That's a very common way to make a filter case & cover, reduces the parts that can be dropped when servicing the filter (one hand for the screwdriver, one for the screw).

It's not a problem in normal use, but if someone uses the wrong screws/cross threads it/leaves it untouched for years it can be an issue.
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Old 05-21-2014, 05:39 PM   #6
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Yes, those were what I was talking about. I can completely understand how molding them into the filter case reduces the possibility of dropping them when servicing the air filter. However, at least from what I can tell, them breaking off of the plastic is a fairly common issue - especially if they get rusted.

It would make much more sense, if they are going to mold them into the filter casing, to mold in the traditional hexagonal nuts. That way if/when they do break off you can at least have something which is easy to grip so you are still able to open the cover to access the filter. With the way it's designed if they break off you're left with only a few options (all of which require removing the filter assembly):

a) hope that you can manage to get a good enough grip on the nut with a pair of pliers so that you're able to remove the screw

b) find a way to physically cut through the screw & then push the remaining part out of the hole

c) replace the entire air filter housing assembly and hope the problem doesn't happen again


Of course there are 2 other options that are less than ideal - 1) you can just decide to never replace the air filter or 2) you can break the plastic around the broken screws/nuts & hope the remaining screws will keep the cover closed properly.


Lucky for me one of the mechanics at the shop I took it to was able to remove the broken screws....although it did take him the better part of an hour to get them loose. Right now the cover is just being held in place by the 2 good screws, and if anything happens to them I'll probably have to check out the scrap yards to see if I can salvage an assembly so it can be replaced entirely.
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Old 05-21-2014, 11:59 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailor View Post
......It sounds like you're talking about nuts molded into the filter case.......
Ahhhh - ok. 180k miles and a dozen or more air filters I can honestly say I've yet to see the hardware on the bottom of the air filter housing.

Nuts and bolts, it's all nut or bolts. Lol. I have wondered over time if the bolts were just threaded into the plastic housing. Always careful!
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Old 05-23-2014, 09:33 PM   #8
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It's my understanding the air filters on these models are non-serviceable, meaning you need to take it back to ford to have them swap the air filter.

My buddy at work and I have been considering converting to a cold air intake and just removing the air filter housing altogether
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Old 03-11-2015, 10:38 AM   #9
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You can secure the cover with tie-wraps through the holes left once bolt and nut is removed
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Old 03-12-2015, 12:59 AM   #10
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Making a mountain out of a molehill...................the bottom inserts simply pressed in and come loose very easy, someone already told OP what to do but he kept right on b-tching (like me!). You hold up on bolt or push insert from the bottom to keep it in the hole for friction and the bolt comes right out, yeah, not the best setup but certainly no big problem there. If the hole is wallowed out to then slip the insert, well bad on you.

One may play fits getting a narrow enough replacement insert that when tightened does not load the box edge so as to break it, better to have patience and simply reuse the old crap parts and bulletproof for years. Mine came loose years ago and all 4 and no trouble at all once you quit grousing and work it out. Not like that cover comes off every five minutes.....................you gotta work with what you got.

Get the insert off the bolt and then glue it up inside the hole..................I don't even bother as it is not a problem.

Tip of the iceberg there, just wait till OP finds out what other cheap things are done on the cars to bring down parts to have to buy more. Practically every plastic fastener that holds major body parts on is one time use stuff, they will go back in if one does not destroy them but the parts are always looser afterward. Both bumper covers, all plastic trim all over the cars. 90% of the car is assembled using no tools whatsoever, only a gloved hand.
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