From my observation, it seems dealer service for mainstream cars (like Ford, Vauxhall, Fiat, Opel) is a problem. Quality surveys show that the Japanese build cars which don't break down often, meaning they have parts designed not to break down, or they are put together right, or both.
Modern cars are far more complicated, even the cheaper ones, and when you sell a lot of cars which in themselves are not designed right or put together right all the time, if you're a mainstream car dealer you end up with too many cars with problems which they couldn't diagnose and the factory isn't of much help to your cause either, so they're stuck with dealing with the customer.
I once worked for a dealer, and the kinds of odd problems they have to fix really forced mechanics to think outside the square - and hire a crystal ball for good measure. It's the mechanics who discover the inherent problems even before the factory - you could imagine how useless the technical department is for something like that. I think Japanese car dealers don't have as much to worry about, and if the situation brings out the best in them, the best will come out.
I have to agree about the situation involving ford dealers, although I have found one close by that so far has been one of the better dealers I've had to deal with. the other thing I would like to say is that my experience with foreign brand car dealers has been no better. I also would like to say that you get what you pay for. The focus is a small cheap car and performs like a small cheap car, not to say its a bad buy for the money, but it has a cheap interior to keep the price down and I haven't seen any small cheap car that doesn't have those type of probelms.
I had my company Focus 1.8 TDI Estate serviced 2 weeks ago at 40k. I informed the garage that the front brakes juddered when braking at motorway speeds and could they investigate. They fitted new discs/pads, but told the leasing company (who I work for) I had insisted on new brakes being fitted!!!
When driving home I used the rear screen wiper, (frequently with an estate), only to hear a lot of clunking. Stopped the car to find they had fitted a new blade approx 4 inches longer than it should have been and it was hitting the high level tailight/washer jet. Regretfully all local dealers are now taken over by the same group, so I don't even have a choice anymore.
I have a 1.8TDI Zetec estate through work, doing about 35-40,000 miles a year.
The dealers are truly bad, but no worse than FIAT dealers. At least Ford keep some parts in stock...
The car rattles like mad from the centre console, and I keep having problems with the brakes, which the dealers seem unable to fix. A couple of weeks ago, the car failed to stop and I had to use the handbrake to come to a halt. Again the dealer made excuses about not finding the fault, and ended up replacing the discs and pads. So far, so good, but it doesn't inspire confidence when you're covering so many miles per year.
I have a ford focus 2002 with a rattle coming from the nearside rear wheel I've had the car into a ford dealer for investigation, but to no avail I purchased the car from new I wonder if anyone else has had this problem.
Try the stabilizer link arm. Also I would like to say that I own a 1.8 Audi, and it comes nowhere near the 2.0 on performance. The Focus's handling is amazing. This is a great little car.