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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I'll start with saying I'm a n00b to the Focus in general, but not a n00b to cars. It's an '04 2.3L ZX3 with around 95k miles. FWIW, I don't intend for this to be the quickest car straight line and I'm probably just about done with "go fast" mods, but I wouldn't mind it handling and looking slightly better. I'll start with the mods that the previous owner left me with:

  • FS Werks 2-piece CAI
  • CFM TB
  • Header
  • HKS Hi Power Catback
  • Massive Speed Lower Engine Mount Bushings
  • Massive Speed Front and Rear Strut Bars
  • Progress Rear Sway Bar (22mm I believe)
  • Ford Racing Lowering Springs (1.5" drop)


Now a few questions...

1. My car has much less low-end torque than it does in the mid range or higher RPMs. I want to blame this on a lack of backpressure from the fart-can like exhaust. I was blaming it on the piping of the exhaust, but it's only 60mm (2.36") from what I can find online, but it may be because of the muffler that kit has as well. Regardless, I plan on changing this catback soon because it's too loud for my tastes. Do you think I can rekindle that low-end torque with 2.25" piping? Or will 2.5" piping be okay with a real (likely Borla) muffler?

2. I've got those Ford Racing Lowering springs and the ride is really bouncy. I haven't done a strut/shock bounce test, but I don't think they're blown. What kind of struts/shocks should I replace the OEMs with? I was thinking that maybe some SVT shocks may work since they're made for shorter springs than the ZX3, but I'd rather ask you guys than just make that assumption.

3. My car is difficult to get into gear at times (mostly 1st / Reverse). I did research and it says to check the fluid level and adjust the linkage. I'll do all that, but I wouldn't be shocked if it was because my clutch components are on their way out due to these symptoms and the mileage. I'm looking at clutches right now (Stage 1... I don't have huge aspirations with this car other than being a reliable, somewhat efficient, somewhat sporty daily driver)... any opinions?


Thanks in advance.
 

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br/o/stang
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1. 2.5" is the way to go on a 2.3L. the HKS style exhaust probably isnt to blame for "loss of low end torque"

2. the ford racing kit comes with SVT shocks for the 1.5" drop basic kit. those would be a nice upgrade over blown stock units. there may be better shocks out there though

3.unsure
 

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Busy Monkey
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^^1 and 2 agreed.

3. I got the Exedy stage 1 clutch and lightweight flywheel and I love it. Much firmer pedal and the clutch grabs great
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the quick responses!

1. Seeing as though I have never driven this car before the mods were put on, I don't know how the torque curve should feel. Do these cars not have much low-end torque from the get go? Where else could I look to add a little bit of torque here without changing gears or going internal?

2. Is it safe to assume that if I go to NAPA and ask for SVT shocks, they'll make my car handle a lot better than the stockers I've got on there now?

3. I was actually looking at the ClutchMasters FX100. I've had some issues with a couple SPEC clutches in the past, so I don't want to go that route, and I also would like to not spend much money on a new unit. Any experience with this kit?
 

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The car with the 2.3 is known to be very torq-y so I would say that it is not due to the exhaust. Not sure as to what the issue would be
 

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zetec 2 duratec swap
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The list of mods you put up won't change your torque curve very much. You may be confusing the sensation of torque versus horsepower. These motors aren't designed to have torque up top just bottom end and midrange and from there to redline is all horsepower. If you look at a dyno sheet of a 2.3 car you will see what I'm talking about.
 

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^^agreed. the 2.3 does have good torque, and from what I've heard the hks exhaust is pretty good. maybe you're just used to something else? or maybe something's wrong? you didn't list a header but I'm wondering if you have one because you will lose low end torque and it will be loud as you described.

might I recommended kyb agx shock/struts. they can handle the drop, are adjustable for your desired stiffness and more inexpensive than the competition.

no idea about the clutch. hope I helped though!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Hmm.. not sure how I forgot the header. Yes, the car does have a header on it... I know this is partially where the loudness comes from, but I can take care of that. What I'm looking for is a way to fix that loss of low-end torque and, as I said, I wouldn't be shocked if I could do that by adding some backpressure...
 

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If you have a header, exhaust and cai, I could see you feeling a small loss in low-end torque... do you know what header? or size of the primarys? Either way, your only hope of adding more low end torque, when you already have those mods, is going to be (tune/lightweight fly/BSD) in that order you will feel the most difference. I have to say that, especially with the headers, you will love a tune. and if your already doing your clutch, then spring for the fly aswell! BSD is a piece of cake, so Id do all 3 and you wont regret it. As for the suspension, I would go with SVT parts, and someone (me) has some front control-arm bushing for sale in the for sale section here. gratz on the 2.3 zx3 stick. not many out there!
 

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Lets not forget:
Many who have had the same mods have reported a loss in torque and did not gain it back until the Car was properly tuned by Tom.
SCT tune (if not all ready done so) should be Your NEXT mod to tie everything together and make the mods your running safe so your not running lean.
Your a lucky Focus owner,I would love to have a 2.3 hatch and if You check the drag racing thread there is a member running 12s on stock internals with not much more done than what You have (75 shot of nitrous and Cosworth manifold and 100 pound weight reduction)
Look in the Tuning thread for info on Tom.
He's the best!

Here's the member video when He was still in the 13s.

http://youtu.be/NrCcxh9Y2Zk
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Gahh I forgot that I have a BSD kit installed as well. I'm likely not going to opt for the flywheel because I don't need to spend that much money on a flywheel for a car that isn't all that exhilarating in straight-line performance to begin with (note: I'm coming from a Cobalt SS/SC followed by an SRT-4). I know I'd enjoy a mild tune to get the AFRs perfect through the range, but I'm not sure how much that costs and, again, am not willing to spend a lot for minimal return.

I've got to say that I'm happy with the performance of the car right now considering it's still got some pep for the good gas mileage I get, but I'm looking to tune in the ride quality and quiet it down while getting more low-end grunt in the meantime. It looks like SVT front dampers (and KYB AGX adjustable rears since they're only $58 a piece online) will be the key for me tuning in the ride quality. A new clutch (and eventually STS) will help me enjoy driving the car a bit more. Summer wheels and tires will help me handle a bit better (I'm not sure how much the control arm bushings would be worth to me right now).

And I'm still leaning toward a 2.25" exhaust unless someone can thoroughly convince me that it's really worth it to create a 2.5" catback. My argument is that a 2.5" exhaust was sufficient for my SS/SC making 205 stock (plus ported SC, bigger injectors, tune, Stage 3 clutch, lightweight flywheel, intake, header, catless downpipe, custom exhaust, etc). I just don't see why my N/A Focus making quite a bit less power would need the same size exhaust. It's not nearly flowing the same amount of air as my SS/SC was and the 2.5" was just fine on there... My SRT had a 3" exhaust, but that's an entirely different animal since it all flows through a turbo first.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Also, FWIW, I believe I have a wrapped F2 header.

Pending price, I probably wouldn't mind getting a tune simply to tie everything together once I know I'm done with performance mods. I really think my last mod will be to get the db's of my exhaust down and tune that to a deeper, throatier tone. Once that's done, I really don't have any aspirations to improve the performance (besides the suspension and clutch of course). A new manifold and weight reduction (I just upgraded my stereo system...) aren't in the works for me and I'll never go the nitrous route (I just use the same username on every forum and have since I started posting on forums when I was like 13 and didn't know what NOS was lol).

Thank you all for the compliments on my car/drivetrain though. It really is a great little car and I'm very happy with the purchase as far as utility, efficiency, and looks go. I'm just looking to make it look, feel, and sound sporty without lacking in other areas. I plan on putting on SVT front and rear fascias (with the SAP rear insert), painting the gray plastic pieces body-color, and making the car look very clean overall.
 

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Tune is $379 from fsw. It sounds like a lot but it will be your favorite mod. plus you can adjust wheel size if you need to, and check codes. If your happy with the performance now than just fix the sound to how you like it. Id just match whatever size the header collector is. 2.5 isent nessesary unless your going all out on performance parts. But I dont think youll notice any difference between the two with your mods. I have a 3" on my 2.3 with no other mods and it "feels" the same low mid and top end...
If you want to take care of your "loss of low-end torque" than get the tune, hands down. youll also gain mid and top end, theres no downfall with a tune especially with headers! just check the dyno graphs at fswerks. All the tunes are about the same so just pick a dealer and go for it.
 

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So mote be it
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For the shocks/struts, I would call Tousley Ford and ask for Steve. He will probably be able to get a pretty good deal on them. Just let him know what year your car is and what springs you have. He'll match you up with the right SVT shocks/dampers.

Tousley Ford
1-800-328-9552
 

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w/ my magic bag
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^^^ I 2nd that! Add a tune= it's worth it! You will found most of the exhaust system's for the Foci are 2.5'', & the 23 head's flow great. The 23 motor has great bottom end grunt.
 

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br/o/stang
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mine never felt right after the header until I got a tune
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks for the reference for Steve at Tousley. He quoted me $160 for the full damper kit plus ~$20-30 for shipping. Looks like that's the route I'll go.

And for the tune, it sounds like that's just what I need once I get a new exhaust. I'll probably do that in the spring, or in the winter if it really starts to get to me.

I guess my last thing to get solved is on the clutch. Does anybody have experience with Clutchmasters (or the FX100 to be more specific)?

Thanks again for all the help so far!
 

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I'm having the same issue with my shifter not engaging first and reverse. Seems to only happen when the car is cold. I asked the question in the tech section and noone had a solution but it was a common problem. I thought maybe the linkage or fluid level would contribute to it but I still don't know.

For the STS, try the DIY kit first. I did it to mine (cost about $5) and it was a nice cheap mod rather than the $100+ custom shifter.

For suspension I would get some new sway bars as well. I think those are the last suspension mod I will do along will a full poly bushing kit.

I have the same car as you but a few less mods because of CA SMOG. It's a fun car, not fast though!
 

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Also check your motor mounts and replace those as well. They will cause the car to feel slower than it is.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I've got Massive Lower Engine Mount Bushings and they rattle the car like hell.... And I've also got a 22mm Rear Sway. It turns pretty good, but I feel like it'll be much better with summer rubber and better damping.

I'll look into the DIY STS, but typically those just shorten the rod, not the throw. I'll see if this one is any different though...
 
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