1999 Ford Focus SE 2.0 from North America


Like the concept, hate the implementation


Many minor interior trim problems Stuff just pops off and won't go back on. This included parts of the headliner and pillar covers.

Trunk wouldn't shut, but they fixed it. Now it won't open cleanly.

4 Recalls.

Remote stopped working.

Dealer recommends new engine after only 27,000 miles (and several months out of warranty)

General Comments:

I have to admit that most of the bugs that we have had with this car are small potatoes, considering it is a low-cost runabout. I half expected problems of this nature and in fact, I'm happy that the problems have been insignificant.

Being a long term Ford owner, son of a Ford owner (Ford Anglia!) You come to know and expect such things. I'm a cheapskate bum and I buy cheapskate bum cars. The fact is, that the Focus is a nice little runabout for the cash. Not as good as my fiesta XR2, but not bad.

I fear this relationship with Ford ends today. The dealer tells us that the tappet-rattle noise that we hear is actually a failing "long block" (all upper engine parts. A mere $2200 covers the cost of this transplant. About a quarter of the value of the car.

I've had the cruddiest of engines (I'm talking Mini 650cc and Deux Chevaux 650cc air-cooled) last for far longer than 27,000 miles. Even with spotty care. maybe I'm old fashioned, but I expect a regularly-serviced engine to last a tad more than 27,000 miles. or am I being unreasonable?

So long Ford. Hyundais are starting to look good.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 13th May, 2003

14th May 2003, 09:23

Correction: It is actually 11 recalls.

15th May 2003, 13:05

Update #2.

On arriving home last night was a letter from Ford USA stating that there was now an acknowleged problem with front springs breaking due to improper corrosion protection. The warranty on the front springs has been extended to 100,000 miles or if they break before that. (The fact that you might die in the ensuing crash will save Ford a few bucks, 'cos they won't need to honor the warranty.)

This AM, we took the Focus to a reliable independent shop for a 2nd opinion. They examined it for 45 minutes (at no charge) and said that they could not find anything wrong, other than a tapping at low idle that appeared to come from the lower engine (long block). The only way to tell would be to disassemble the engine.

This is the same part of the engine that the dealer recommends replacing. It consists of the pistons, con rods, wrist pins, crankshaft, & sump (or pan). I fact, all the beefy parts of the engine that should last many thousands of miles.

The independent dealer advised us to fight it tooth and nail and so we started with Ford's customer service dept this morning. Ford basically said "nuts". They said it in a very polite way, but they are not going to replace the long block for free, we must bear part of the $2500 cost. They did offer to contact the dealership for us to work out what we would have to pay.

My flabber has never been so gasted.

20th May 2003, 07:35

The letter to the president of the dealership seems to have worked. We offered to pay $600 of the long block replacement costs ($2,500). They said they would accept $550. I suspect Ford is picking up the major part of the cost.

18th Mar 2004, 22:49

Actually you know what, that tappet noise is because you didn't change the oil. Besides, cars with automatic valve train adjustment always make that clicking noise until they adjust themselves. CHANGE THE OIL. However, it is probably too late by now.

1999 Ford Focus SE Comfort 2.0 Zetec from North America


A great economical vehicle with a sporty side


Stabilizer bar link on the right front was broken at 16K miles and was replaced under warranty.

Driver's door handle broken at 23K miles and was also replaced under warranty.

General Comments:

I've been nothing short of proud of this little road warrior. I make frequent long distance trips and it has been a treat to drive. I have been really impressed with the sound system and after adding a new CD player and XM satellite radio the long trips seem to just fly by.

The only problems I have noticed are some loose screws in the console and dash and a squeaky blower fan. The number of recalls is slightly concerning but I have never worried about my safety in my Focus.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 28th March, 2003