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Old 02-27-2019, 10:13 AM   #1
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What to look for when buying a used Focus?

Did a few searches to try and find a topic, but nothing came up.
I'm in the market for a new vehicle. Lots of first gen Focus wagons around me for under $2000.

What should I look at\check for\be aware of when looking at these? Some are higher miles (175,000-290,000) and some have things like a salvage or rebuilt title. I'm used to high mile vehicles (Wife's van has 220K, my old 94 Taurus just recently died at 345K, and my old beater died at 290K) but I'm looking for things that would either need attention or records on a higher mileage vehicle.

Thanks!


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Old 02-27-2019, 11:21 AM   #2
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Standard stuff really, not anything specific goes "bad".

Check the Thermostat housing that it is not leaking around there, sign of a soon to fail plastic thermostat housing.

When was timind belt done? Not as important as the SVT which is an interference engine and the Regular Zetec is not. Should be replaced around 125k miles along with water pump and other belts and pulleys.

Check for rust these cars are 15+ years old.

Suspension likely needs a refresh but there are good options that are low priced.

Salvage sometimes does things with insurance so ask your insurance provider if it matters if the vehicle has a rebuilt title or not.

If its leaking around the valve cover you may want to get it fixed.

The Thermostat low speed fans relay / resistor burns out due to rust and corrosion so if the low speed fans dont work that is the likely culprit.
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Old 02-27-2019, 11:32 AM   #3
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Thanks for the quick reply.

I'm looking at a 2000 Focus SE wagon with the SPI engine, and a 2005 Focus ZXW wagon that has a salvage title (My insurance doesn't really care. It wouldn't be getting full coverage, just liability at 4x state minimums like all my vehicles).

I'm in Minnesota so rust is inevitable. Are there certain areas that are "car is unsafe" areas vs the typical rockers and wheel arches that seem to eat away on anything here?

I've also got a line on one that a friend's coworker owns. It's an 01 wagon (not sure on trim) that lost reverse and leaks at the valve cover. It sounds like more than I want to tackle but it's also under $500 so it's tempting.

How hard is it to do a timing belt on the SPI engine? it seems like my most solid lead and it's at around 170K, but it's at a Jeep dealer so I doubt it has records.

Thanks for all the help! Our local pick-n-pull yards are full of first gen Foci so I'm thinking it's a good vehicle just in terms of parts availability and reliability. Plus wagon so more storage than the dead Jeep Liberty it's replacing.
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Old 02-27-2019, 12:50 PM   #4
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SPI the valves are known to drop, I would watch out for that Engine...

For rust I have seen the front and rear crossmembers (the bits that all the suspension and wheels bolt to which then bolts to the body) be rusted and rotted enought to flex. and be unsafe.

SPI has a chain IIRC and is not needed. but has the droped valve issues.
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Old 02-27-2019, 02:09 PM   #5
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Stay away from the SPIs I’ve had 2 2.0 duratecs abd both have had hung open thermostats and valve covers leaking into the plug wells. But both run awesome and don’t need much/any upkeep. Duratecs also suffer tumble flap slow failures.

In your area I’d look for the newest car possible within budget just because it means less years on salty roads.
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Old 02-27-2019, 03:13 PM   #6
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Thanks for the help!

I'll avoid the SPI engines. Don't need to switch from a Jeep that tossed a rocker to a Ford that dropped a valve.

Is there a cheat sheet for years\trims that have the SPI? I can decode VINs but not everyone lists it on their listings.
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Old 02-27-2019, 04:38 PM   #7
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https://www.etis.ford.com/vehicleReg...0BE3.eccvas504

The 8th number in your VIN is the engine size.

"5" is a SVT Zetec
"3" is a Zetec
"P" is a SPI
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Old 02-27-2019, 06:54 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pizzaboy192 View Post
Did a few searches to try and find a topic, but nothing came up.

I'm in the market for a new vehicle. Lots of first gen Focus wagons around me for under $2000.



What should I look at\check for\be aware of when looking at these? Some are higher miles (175,000-290,000) and some have things like a salvage or rebuilt title. I'm used to high mile vehicles (Wife's van has 220K, my old 94 Taurus just recently died at 345K, and my old beater died at 290K) but I'm looking for things that would either need attention or records on a higher mileage vehicle.



Thanks!
Put a decent OBD scanner on it. Look for any codes , or recently cleared codes.
Seller needs to get it smoged
Make sure wheel bearings are not going out...same with CV joints.
Tires for even wear and that it drives straight.
Look at the Scotty Kilmer YouTube video on what to check on a used car.
Compression check all 4 cylinders.
Don't buy if AIRBAG light is on or if CEL is on.
Drive it up hills to see if engine overheats.
Put it on a rack and look for ANY kind of leaks.
Try to get a Z code 2.3 like mine.
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Last edited by joeblo1999; 02-27-2019 at 06:59 PM.
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