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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
At the beginning of the year, I bought a 2007 SES Wagon. I wanted a silver one, but found a black one in great shape (one owner, a lil old lady) and low miles (40K) and totally stock. Because it's black I figured I go with it and black out everything (not excessive, just no chrome and maybe a light coat of niteshade on the corners and kinda dark tint, to blend everything together (I'm curious about the durability of the plastic-cote stuff on rims and other parts-hot sun, road salt, debris, etc?)

I'd love to turn it into a rocket, but this is my only car and need something reliable...so here's my question: I camp, mountain bike, occasionally pick up pretty heavy home improvement stuff (need full rear suspension travel) and drive where a lowered suspension would cause me to bottom out. Every 2 weeks, I drive 400miles, round-trip at mostly 55-75 mph (last time I drove home, I had to straddle (most of) a deer carcass, and I cleared it (barely). I like low profile tires but am thinking about putting some 'LT' (light truck) tires on it instead; I'm thinking the extra cords in the tire and thicker sidewalls will give me improved performance (even though they will be a bit heavier).

Has anyone gone against what most people upgrade their tires to (low profile), and gone with a bigger sidewall? I don't like the stock rim and tire look, there's too much space between the tire and fender. Does anyone have tire recommendations or advice for me doing this (either for or against)?

I need a reliable car, no scraping or rubbing and I don't want to put too much weight/force somewhere Ford never intended it (heavier tires=more mass=more stress on brakes and suspension=broken stuff=more$$$=not my goal).

Efficiency is key for me: I want the car to last as long as possible, while consuming as little money (in parts and fuel) as possible (I'm mostly a light-foot, but like a good handling car in the corners, gotta keep the momentum up!). As long as I keep my momentum through corners and use gravity to my advantage, I don't need to accelerate hard (I wish others knew this, or at least got out of my way! lol). I'm totally down with the "Do it right, or Don't do it!". If I need new suspension (which I think I do need, to get rid of the rear end wiggle) I want to get better quality than stock parts (FRPP I've read is probably best upgrade for the money/result?).

I'll get new rims if it helps me accomplish my performance goals, but would rather spend money doing other things like tint, suspension repair/upgrades, or road trips thru some twisty mountain 2 lane roads. I think the RS Rally 11 spoke rims look good to me right now, ask me again in a month and it'll change. How about turning my Wagon into a rally-type car?!?

I'm also wondering if I can get a tunable ECU (?); one setting for economy (cruising at 55-75mph), one for power (0-55mph) and one for stock? I'll ask more about that later, in a more appropriate forum location.

So is this too much to expect for out of a Focus Wagon? Please no comments about 'I should have bought a different car' I love my Focus! (just not the stock wagon look) If I had more money, I'd retire and get a RS but I need a working mans' car (for now).lol

Sorry this is so long, just trying to be thorough so, hopefully, you don't need to ask a bunch of questions and can point me in the right direction.

Thanks!
 

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I don't like the idea of using truck tires. They will not improve handling and will add considerably to rotating mass (poorer acceleration and longer stopping distances) and unsprung weight (poor ride and handling quality).

To deal with the tire gap correctly you need to use lowering springs. Trying to reduce the gap with tires rarely works and requires a huge tire. Remember as you reduce the gap you increase ground clearnce as well (kind of counter-productive if aesthetics is an issue). Example, to reduce the gap say one inch will require using a tire 2 inches bigger in diameter. That can result in all kinds of problems including fender lip and liner rubbing and the unsprung weight and rotating mass issues previously mentioned.

There's no serious downside of using taller sidewalls if you don't like low profile tires. 50 and 55 work fine on 16" wheels and 55 or 60 on 15" wheels. You didn't mention what size tire and wheel you have and whether you dislike their current performance or not. There's lots of good tires available even with slightly taller sidewalls. Tires are and always will be the number one performance upgrade you can do.

There's a number of members who have some pretty sweet wagons and I'm sure they will clime in.

Bat inc is one of the few parts suppliers that provides aftermarket suspension pieces for the wagon. You might want to take a look at their web site.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the input. I've got the stock 15" wheels, and I believe 195/60's (probably stock/original for 2007?). I really like the look of 17's but am afraid potholes may damage them; I live in Detroit area (with bad roads) and work about an hour south of Cleveland,OH (I've got an apt there), so realistically I might have to stick with the 15's for a while.
The overall handling is...well...like a typical small car. I get a little bit of tire spin while accelerating out of the driveway to a 40mph road, without too much pedal into it (might be off camber a bit and dusty) so I think wider tires would help. Also, my speedo is off a few mph at 70 (did my '07 originally come with 16's? and the dealer swapped them out?), so I figure I could go a bit bigger in diameter and correct the speedo? I've heard a tire shop can reprogram the speedo for any size tire I put on, really I'm not too worried about it, I have a GPS (and other traffic) for accurate speed.
I wouldn't mind extra clearance so road debris doesn't damage anything; two track is usually what leads to campgrounds and mountain bike trails, not to mention the heavy snow we get (last winter I found my Focus isn't great in snow). I agree better tires are important, I'll check into 205/60 or 65's or something along those lines.
Aesthetics are important, but I don't really want what everyone else has, but it's good to hear how what others have works. 17" and 35 series do look great on a road car, but mine is a working car, hauling dogs, dirt (I load as if they are passengers to not overload the rear susp-3 40lb bags per seat, and a few in the back-12 total, per trip, with no bottoming out).
Thanks again for the reply, keep 'em coming!
 
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