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Discussion Starter #1
Greetings Fanatics. [wave]
Several weeks ago I lost my job and my company car. I was able to get another job pretty quickly, but realized that my other two vehicles (a '93 Lightning and a '87 BMW race car) were not the best tools to get me to work and back, especially during winter weather. I started looking for a cheap POS that ran well that could get through snow, be cheap to fix and not make me want to hurl each morning I went outside and saw it. That was pretty much the criteria; I ignored all the Neons, Cavaliers and Stratuses I could have bought for pennies and decided to look for a Focus. I like Ford trucks and used to have Mk1 Fiestas back when dinosaurs roamed the earth so it made sense. Bonus points if I could find one with a manual trans.
To shorten the tale a bit I'll just introduce the $1200, 210,000 mile conveyance that is in my driveway:

Zetec and five speed FTW.
One remaining decal and some orange door speakers advise me this is an uber-rare Sony Edition (painted Going Platinum, no less) that is naturally missing the trunk mounted subwoofer and the original head unit. Like I care. I only care that it runs, shifts, stops and doesn't catch fire. With four new tires and new front brakes I figure it will last at least until spring at which point it can go back on Craigslist for some other sucker. Little did I know I'd actually start to like the little rat.
 

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I do most all of my own repair work so gave the car a more thorough assessment after I got it home. The thing was wrecked in the front once (over the bumper, apparently) and got a new hood, at least one fender and one headlamp. The paintwork matched well but is now suffering from adhesion issues and is peeling off the hood. Pity, as otherwise the thing wouldn't look bad.
The shoddy repair work continued with many broken or missing clips holding stuff to the radiator support. One of those items was the plug for the O2 sensor which began to melt against the exhaust manifold. Zip ties to the rescue for now. I also noticed the thermo housing was 'wet' which won't surprise 99% of you but I had to research it to find out it's horrendously common. A trip to NAPA fixed that. I also removed and cut off 3 of the 4 air cleaner bolts that were seized; no surprise that the filter element was disgusting. The hood insulation was literally falling off so it went in the trash as it was soaked with grease. Replaced one headlamp bulb and the two front side marker bulbs. The car came with a new window regulator for the LR (I knew these were junk from working on my neighbor's ZX5) so replaced that. Adjusted the waaaaay loose handbrake (WTF is with that stupid clip?!). When I changed the oil I was completely blown away that the head was pristine and completely clean via the view through the oil cap. Ink markings on the engine tell me it's probably been replaced at some point and it does run good, doesn't seem to smoke and thus far hasn't consumed any oil in the 2 weeks I've run it. The a/c blows cold. Aside from a crunchy 3rd gear syncro when it's warm and a few rattles it seems shockingly...normal.
However, all was not well as I will explain in my next installment.
 

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All was humming along nicely. I drove the car 2 hrs down to a friend's house for the day and then came back to within five miles of my exit when I hit a motionless construction zone. Creep and crawl for several minutes when I notice the temperature gauge moving to a position I'd never seen it in before. Quickly it shot to the end and pegged hot about the same time steam erupted from the front of the car.
Crap.
Cutting people off and forcing my way to the should I quickly managed to get off a nearby exit before shutting the car off. I suspected that something had broken/burst to cause such a spectacular display but in the dark it was impossible to diagnose. Abandoned ship and had my wife rescue me. Today I loaded it on the trailer and towed it the short distance home and began the investigation.

Blissfully, today was warm and I was able to do a lot of messy work with water and antifreeze I'd otherwise have been forced to do in the garage. The first thing I found was the source of the steam explosion: the plastic pipe that runs across the top of the radiator (separate part) had a crack running nearly it's entire length. My suspicion was it failed not just from old age but from the car overheating. Why had it done that? Because the fans didn't come on. Now, some of you know where this is going. The Sony Edition (hey, the trunk lid says SE!) had the typical failed/molten fan resistor and connector. Another typical failure I knew nothing of until it happened. Upside is I also found a pesky coolant drip from the overflow tank that I thought was a hose but turns out the tank has a crack in it where the mount tab is located. So tomorrow I source parts and hopefully put Humpty back together in time for the snow forecast for Wednesday.
 

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wow very nice man! Keep up the good work. I never heard of that edition before, pretty cool!
 

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not a bad deal and sounds like you are having all the common issues with these but when all that is fixed will be a long lasting great car! my wagon has 301k miles and runs like a top.
 

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hey check the rear wheel bearings too they arnt uncommon to fail if you find them bad change the whole drum its $50 and has the bearing and hub already pressed in
 

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$20-ish bucks for the plastic coolant tube (it even comes with new mounting rivets) and we're back in business. I think. We'll see if anything else is leaking this morning. The coolant tank still needs replaced but I installed it 'loose' without the mount bolt which has taken pressure off the area where it has the crack and (so far) it has not leaked. These are stupid money from Ford ($70+) but are available aftermarket.

I lopped off the connector for the fan resistor and just used two spade connectors for now, re-using the existing resistor as I couldn't get one yesterday. Test running the car the fans did not come on by themselves, but the temperature gauge also did not move past the halfway mark. This worried/puzzled me but since they do turn on with the a/c control I've decided not to worry about it for now...if things start to get hot I'll just engage them manually.

The only other thing that bugs me right now is the right side suspension makes a sort of clunk (not metal) when going over bumps. The car has new front sway end links, so it's not that. I can't see anything obviously loose and it drives fine but it's annoying because I know something isn't right.
 

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Probably strut mounts, mine does the same.
 

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Too much typical crap at once, but you're doing well.

Keep an eye on the temps, that "gauge" hangs in the middle range until it is close to hot.

High speed comes on with A/C, still need to confirm low speed works (that does most of the cooling when needed).
 

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That sounds like my 94' civic...I picked it up for $1200...put about $1200 in it in about 2 years and sold it to another sucker for $1700. Those cars do run forever, but like you everything just kept going out and that stuff adds up quickly. I probably fixed everything and gave that car another 200k miles before it broke down again. It had 200k miles on the car when I sold it, still with the original clutch! Although I had a lot of problems, they were all pretty minor and at that time gas was near $4/gallon and I had a dodge dakota getting 17mpg on a good day. I sold the truck and picked up that little car that got probably 40mpg and it never once left me strained, it always seemed to make it home. Although it sucks replacing all those parts at least you know its been done right and not by some other knucklehead that's just rigged it together (I've seen parts glued on because I think they might have lost the bolt). One thing I miss are those tires...brand new all 4 were $190
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Today I finally had time and good enough weather to head to the U-Pull-it. I was a little surprised at the low number of Foci...maybe 8-10 and all but one sedans. My main mission was to find another driver's seat as mine looks to have done much of it's 200k beneath a decidedly large individual. The left bolster is totally flat and makes me feel like I'm sliding off the end of a bench seat. The outboard seatback bolster is so gone I can feel the steel seat frame through the cloth. I had a list of a lot of little knick-knack parts and hardware as well. About half the cars were missing the front seats which makes me wonder if they aren't a problem? Two or three were dohc cars and the same number were stick shifts. I need to research the interchangeability of the shift mechanism as mine is pretty sloppy compared to the one or two I played with in the yard but I didn't want to take one from a sohc car if they aren't the same.

Anyway, armed with a hand truck and a bucket of tools I spent $25.00 and got the following:
Driver's seat in good shape from a car that still had all it's windows rolled up--found another one but it was damp. Matches the trim code on the Sony car too.
HVAC controls--mine are badly worn and the light shows through in a very distracting way.
A pillar trim next to dash--mine is broken
Rear door handle cover--missing on mine along with some trim panel screws I took.
Trunk lock cylinder bezel--these must be popular or failure prone as all but two were missing on the yard cars.
Hand brake boot--tore one before I figured out how to get them out safely. The chosen one was pretty disgusting but cleaned up nice with Dawn and a scrub brush.
Expansion tank--these are prone to cracking at the bolt mount but I found one that looked like it had been replaced not long ago so I took it vs buying a new one.

Missed opportunity--the little rocker molding extension at the front. Found ONE and couldn't get the bolt out (stripped). I have a feeling these may be a PITA to try to get off without damage.

Couldn't find--wheel center cap, headlamp mount screw, armrest latch (the latter seems to be a unicorn)

I was kind of surprised at how much was left on many of the cars: bumpers, grilles, taillamps, a couple headlamps, fenders, hoods...yet the interiors were frequently gutted. Most still had engines and transmissions in them. Saw way more Contours, Cougars and Tauri than anything else.

Hopefully later this week I'll have a free evening to swap out the seat and HVAC controls. The little rat is running great and likes 80-85 mph on the way to work on the highway. I'm quite impressed with the zippy nature of the Zetec (glad I didn't buy a sohc!). My main criticism of the car is the built-to-a-price plastics that are now brittle with age; you have to be extremely careful prying things and taking them apart. Even the electrical connectors will snap off tabs if you look at them wrong.
 

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I feel bad for leaving a short post to such a great post.

You got some good deals at the pull yard for $25!! Now you just get to put it on.

Yes the arm rest latch is like finding an albino unicorn actually. They break, as you know..., so yeah that's pretty much it.

Yes age does wonders to some things. Both good and bad. Just have to live with it.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
So the "Rat" left me on the roadside last night. An hour from home. In 34 degree weather. I was not happy. I'm getting good at loading it on the race car trailer.

Symptoms before it expired indicated it was running out of gas but the gauge said it had over 1/8 tank and the low fuel light had not come on. The gauge and light had worked properly since I bought it, but after filling the 13.2 gallon tank with roughly 13 gallons of fuel I think we can now safely assume the sending unit has a problem. For now I chose to make a modification to the instrument cluster:
 

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15 years can age plastic quite a bit, remember that's how old year 2000 cars are now.

But, good to hear that not as many Focus in bone yard as other less popular Fords. Supply and demand keeps some on road and others scrapped.
 

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An update to our Sony Edition story: mileage 216,000. One of the wheel bearings is toast but I have yet to figure out which one. The roar is pretty pronounced but shifting the weight around on the suspension doesn't seem to change it much. I guess I'll know which it is when the wheel flies off. [giddy]

The totally dry engine started to drip oil on the driveway. I found it was the oil filter not being screwed on tight. Like, almost loose. [eek] Home mechanic fail. Twisted it snug and oil leak stopped. Coolant level hasn't dropped and even with the drippage the little rat still doesn't seem to use any oil.

Today the LF window regulator finally exploded after making death noises for a month. I already had a new one 'in stock' and swapped it out tonight. Got it from a seller on Ebay new in the box (Dorman aftermarket). Front one is less aggravating to change than the rear but there is more to tear apart on the LF door.

I've had it for something like 8-9 months now. I only had planned to keep it through winter but it is fine for back and forth to work. Longer trips suck, however, as even the replacement seat I find uncomfortable and the a/c doesn't work. I'm shopping for a replacement in a 'nice' car but can't find what I want so am continuing to rock the Sony.
 
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