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jmackenzie3 11-20-2004 12:00 PM

Started car shopping.... very skeptical...
I would like to request that the answer to this question be turned into an announcement or sticky. I realize these questions have been asked and answered 20 times here, but I just don't have time to spend searching 10,000 messages. I'm sure there are a lot of perspective focus buyers who would feel the same way...

I started shopping for a replacement car for my sister. Found a 2001 Focus wagon that looks perfect for her needs. Did a little research on the net. Found a lot of good reviews, but also found a disturbing number of reports about the crappy brake system in this series of cars, and a number of reports about engine fires and general poor quality in the 2000 and 2001 models. Found the web site and read through everything there. Now I'm paranoid...

Here are my questions:

1. Just how prevalent is the engine fire issue?

2. Just how prevalent is the brake wear problem? Does EVERYONE have this issue?

3. Is the problem just with the Ford manufactured components? If she buys this car and replaces the entire brake system with aftermarket parts, will she continue to experience premature brake failure?

4. She's a single mom with handicapped kids, and she DOES NOT have the budget or time to have her car in the shop 4 times a year getting $1000 brake jobs. She also lives in central Canada, where we have winter weather for 6 months a year, and having the car die 10 miles from a service station just will not fly with handicapped kids in the car. Should she just run as fast as possible away from these cars and avoid the heartache?

I realize this sounds like I might be trashing a car that you all probably know and love, but I'm getting conflicting reports here, and the best place I found for OBJECTIVE, no-bull assessments is a car lover's forum like this one.

Thanks in advance for any help you can give me....

Lil PZEV 11-20-2004 12:13 PM

1. I've never heard of engine fires!

2. I haven't experienced terrible brake wear, my car now has just shy of 18k on it.

3. I think if she was to order a new set of rotors and pads off some place like BATinc (nothin fancy, just the nondrilled/slotted ones, look like OEM but better quality) then the brake issues tend to go away... there are plenty of people running BAT systems that could offer their feedback. I plan to go that route whenever the brakes on mine go.

4. The 2000-01's did tend to have more issues than later models, so I'm not sure if she could afford a 2002? But even if not, make sure all the recalls or TSB's that apply have been done to it, there are some people with 2000's that have never had trouble with their Focus, so they're not all bad.

Good luck with your research and to your sister's hunt for a good vehicle for her and the kiddos.

KoRnGtL15 11-20-2004 12:26 PM

If you buy it. Make sure ALL the recall fixes are made. Then go aftermarket for your brake needs. The stockers suck ass. After that. Your good to go.

whiteboyslo 11-20-2004 06:38 PM

just get an 02 or newer model to be absolutely safe. recalls are basically gone by then. i've never heard of the enine fire issue.

replace the stock brake components with some decent aftermarket stuf when it comes time to replace them (nothing fancy. just what you can get at the local parts store ) and you'll be good to go.


CDN-ZX5 11-20-2004 06:48 PM

I live in Canada as well, although on the West Coast so not so much winter here. Anyway, I am on my second Focus and couldn't be happier. I would agree that an '02 or later would be a better bet, but as long as it has been taken care of it should provide long, safe and reliable transportation. To put the brake issue into perspective - I had a 1994 Grand Am prior to my first Focus, a 2000 model. I had to put front brakes on the Grand Am every 6 months without fail. I couldn't understand the complaints about the Focus' brakes as I needed nothing done until I hit 30K and then only minor servicing, I thought it was great, I did need new rotors and pads at 52K, but that was after 3 years of stop and go city driving, and it only cost $500. Now I'm running an '03 ZX5 for more than 2 years and have had to do nothing but oil changes. A friend has an '02 Focus Wagon in Toronto and they love it, get's them up to cottage country and around the city perfectly. A very good car, don't worry, be confident with this car.

Twofocused 11-20-2004 07:25 PM

Brembo replacement rotors and pads run less than $175 in parts for all 4 wheels.

Chick 11-20-2004 07:43 PM

Terrible brake wear, eh? I have over 24K on my stock brakes and they still look new. I have a 03.

I believe most of these problems were on the 00-01. Check to see if the car that you are purchasing has had all the TSB's and recalls done on it before you buy.

pocketlion 11-20-2004 08:46 PM

Since it's introduction.. mainly being 02 and newer... the focus has improved 58% in quality. I have 72,000 miles on a 2000, an it has the original rotors, only being turned once. The brake pads I automatically upgraded when I turned the rotors. My brakes work great, and the car runs and drives like a new one. And I know, I drive new ones all the time.

Garick 11-21-2004 12:13 AM

I agree with everybody else, as long as all recalls and tsb's have been done there's not much to worry about. Of course these years will be up in mileage and you get extra maintenance along with that. I used to own a 2001, It was a fine car, no problems. I was not the original owner but I believe it was on original brakes at 40,000 with no issues when it left me. My current 2003 has also been great, I'm at 16,000 right now, no issues.

mrk874 11-21-2004 01:05 AM

In my opinion, In this situation, she should probably go with a more reliable car. If you absolutely can't have a break down, you need to buy something newer. An 01 Focus Wagon with high miles is asking for trouble, in your situation anyways.

For most other people, it's totally fine. In addition to my Focus, I have a 93 taurus wagon and it's good enough for me (no kids)

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