ford focus mk3

In its time, the second-generation Focus was one of the first popular foreign cars. What should you be prepared for when choosing a used model? First of all, let's evaluate the body, interior and electrics, then let's talk about power units and suspension.


The "third" Focus is based on the unified Global C platform of the second generation, upgraded to new passive safety requirements and for better unification with the EUCD "bogie" - larger models from Ford, Volvo and Jaguar were based on it. The changes of all elements compared with the first version is not always obvious, but it affects literally every detail. This is particularly clearly illustrated by the suspension design, which has a high level of similarity, and in some places even interchangeability of parts with the previous generation: while changing the shape of the arms, mounting and threaded joints general geometry has remained. The brake discs are lightened, but there are no problems with interchangeability, as long as the diameter is the same. The driveshafts of similar versions are minimal different, there are differences in the diameter of the tubular part and how to fix the splined part. But the power structure of the body is significantly redesigned, especially in the front end. The electrics have been significantly changed.

In general, the Focus III is clearly a product of the modernization of the old platform. The inheritance in design of suspensions and power structure of the body is traced, but the total amount of changes is significant, and it is impossible to say that the cars were created on the same platform. The meaning of the changes is not always clear, and there is a high probability of error, which will lead to a breakdown due to installation of the wrong part, as in the case of driveshafts.

It is interesting, that the volume of the cabin of the third generation has decreased significantly with the preservation of the general geometry parameters of the body. And so much so that the first generation Hyundai Solaris in sedan body will be more spacious in some parameters. Although the Solaris is not the biggest car in its class and is inferior to Volkswagen Polo.

Focus III has all-steel body, only the hood is aluminum. There are three bodies - sedan, hatchback and station wagon, but the wheelbase is always the same, 2650 mm. The engine is located in the front transversely, the drive is strictly front-wheel drive in all versions, except for RS, which still added all-wheel drive.

The engine range is quite wide. In addition to the typical 4-cylinder engines, there are also 3-cylinder engines in the lineup. The diesel engines are based on the PSA design, even the 1.5 diesel after the restyling is similar to the French designs, although it has lost compatibility with the piston group due to different dimensions.

There are several manual transmissions: these include the 5-speed iB5 and MTX75, and the 6-speed CB6 and MMT6 - that is, essentially, all the boxes that were in Ford's lineup of units. Automatic transmission before the restyling is represented only by preselective robots: either 6DCT250 with dry clutches on gasoline engines 1.6 and 2.0 without a supercharger, or 6DCT450 with oil bath clutches on more powerful gasoline and diesel cars.

The Focus III's electronics are advanced, allowing for almost every relevant option available from Ford and Jaguar at the time of the model's release. Not surprisingly, the car got both auto brake and auto parker systems, not to mention simpler options.


Exterior Panels

An exterior inspection of this generation Focus should be quite thorough. The cars are not old, and serious problems are rare, but even the copies of the last years of production have defects, which the owners bashfully call "chips". A very common problem is "chipped rear arch", it's actually a banal corrosion with peeling of paint on a small area. And it is present on all types of bodies. Rear edge at the junction with the bumper rusts off first, in sedans, the outer flange of the arch suffers a bit more often, but the rear side is just as problematic place.

The good thing is that it doesn't corrode to the bumper mount points and even to the plastic mount "rail", it destroys the paint in the gap between the bumper and a fender, gradually passing to the edge of the wheel arch. There is a seam there, the joint between the inner and outer arch, but it is well enough covered with sealant. But it is better not to start the process, if you do not want to change the fender.

ford focus mk3 exterior

Front doors often have chipped edges and bugs at the bottom. The metal is soft, and also has two stiffeners per door. Traditionally, door seals over time rub the paintwork in the openings to a shine, if not to the metal. The doors themselves also suffer: there seems to be a gray patina, some galvanizing is there, but if you run a chipped spot for a couple of months, there will be a solid crater in the metal. When inspecting, try opening the doors sharply, especially the rear doors: the drains are easily clogged, and there could be a lot of water inside. On trunk lids of sedans the dirt collects under the cover of license plate niche and wipes the paint. Clips are weak, and double-sided adhesive tape doesn't help much - rather, it collects sand on itself. Hatchbacks don't have this problem.

The front mud flaps are traditionally problematic, if they are not glued with a film beforehand. And on the rear arch chipping happens often. A plastic cover of a sill creates a veil of mystery, not allowing to estimate a condition of a sill, but there is usually light corrosion under it, look closely the edge and a joint of plastic and metal. It is unlikely that the inside is completely rubbish, but if there is dirt and paintwork is damaged in a large area, it is usually noticeable. The front edge of the roof is also a problem area, chipping is very easy to fade.

With all the mentioned disadvantages, the paintwork itself looks good, keeps its shine, and its thickness is quite decent - more than 100 microns. If you do not look closely, almost all FF3s look very good. Never inspect these cars in the dark or in bad weather, you'll simply miss almost all the minor defects. And in most cases you will not get away with painting one part: if there is damage, it is complex. Much depends on the quality of operation, quality of paintwork maintenance, storage conditions.

From below

Even if the car looks nice from above, you don't see any chips and rust, no traces of repair, and the thickness gauge says the car was not repainted, it is too early to relax. Ford is famous for its pragmatic approach to making cars. And if some elements are invisible, the quality of painting and anticorrosive treatment is mediocre. The body bottom and arches of the third generation Ford Focus prove it once again.

The cars are still able to please, being new, but they are aging rather quickly, and the body condition plays a significant role here. The cars 10 years old can "please" the owner with deposits of stratified rust on underbody panels, on bottom parts of thresholds, on side members. The rear part, from the arm brackets and fuel tank mounting area, traditionally suffers a lot. The area above the tank and rear suspension is the weakest place. But the center tunnel is also not lagging behind: there is a lot of rust under thermal protection on body seams and welding points of brackets. The ventilation holes in the underbody side members are blooming around the edges. The edge of the sills is rotting in the jammed areas - it's sturdy enough, but sloppy installation of the elevator legs or jack can damage it.

The saddest thing in this picture is that unloaded plate elements are less affected than power parts. It is the thick parts of back spars, longitudinal arm mounting pads and rear subframe mounting points, which are the most quickly covered with rust. Apparently, thick, but not factory galvanized metal is used on these body parts. Or it is less resistant than hot-dip galvanized steel. Most likely there won't be serious problems with body durability at least for 5-6 years, but it is under the condition that rust is not coming from inside. In fact, wet floors of the trunk and rear part of the interior are very typical for hatchbacks, and it happens rather often on sedans as well.

The reason of it are unsuccessful seals of a rear door opening, very weak seals of rear lamp wiring and even frankly harmful form of body ventilation louvers. Add to that the door drain, which is easily clogged, and the design where water from the door window opening gets to the interior trim and from it to the interior via cables and wires. Now it's clear that 10 years is a long time for this car. By the way, the wiring also suffers a lot, and a little bit about it below.

The cars with multi-purpose cars have roof leaks at mounts of rails. And in all cars with a sunroof it is extremely bad in rainy weather, and the sunroof bath is rusting on the welds - it will become a problem over time. The drains need to be cleaned regularly and the seals need to be carefully monitored. After 8 years of use, they lose a lot of effectiveness.

Dirty engine compartment surprisingly suffers little from problems with the paintwork, although sometimes after washing you can see the places where the paint is peeling, but there is no rust. The main thing is not to allow the formation of corrosion on the joints of cups and at the junction with the spars.

A separate pain of owners is body arches, especially rear ones. Original lockers are felt ones, they accumulate moisture very well, and besides the bottom part of arch, where a spar runs, is not covered at all. As a result, a typical picture of damage from Moscow car was as follows: the box of a spar stained with rust, small pockets on an arch, and a lot of surface rust on the rear shock absorber mounting bracket. The fuel filler mount brackets in the right arch are also usually rusty. The situation is better in the front arches, but the strut cup on the inside is also usually chipped and superficially corroded.

The outer sills, which are covered by plastic, are minimally corroded. There are usually small pockets of damage, but serious deep and extensive rust is rare, usually due to the accumulation of dirt under the padding after adventures on dirt roads.

Body equipment

Everything is made rather budgetary and therefore there are plenty of complaints. The heated windshield cracks from any chip or even by itself. A characteristic horseshoe-shaped crack is even nicknamed "Ford's smile". Before a restyling, the headlights were sweating mercilessly, and holes were even drilled in them to drain the condensate. Lensed xenon headlights burn out after 4 years of use, the lens is not the best. Everything would be okay if the daytime running lights worked, but they are not reliable either.

The gaskets rub the doors, the frame starts to whistle at speed over time, the doors squeak when opening, and it is difficult to eliminate the usual ways. But there is a technological hole between the hinges, where you can tighten the bolt of the door post booster under the plug, and the squeak disappears. Locks and window lifters serve not very reliably, but the replacement is inexpensive. You can buy the locking motor separately and inexpensively. It's a pity, the company saves on unlocking the back door from the inside, it will be hard to open the jammed lock.

If the car is with keyless access, a handle with a sensor is added to the list of expendables. It absolutely does not tolerate moisture, sometimes one wash is enough. Or you need to modify it before installation. Well, and antiskrip pads on lock brackets are in the list of widespread tuning, as well as for Zhiguli. The airbags of a tailgate at the same age start to drop a door little by little. The plastic of the bumpers stuffing crumbles, and the clips, on which the elements are assembled, require replacement over time, even if they have never been removed. Front lockers also fall to pieces after 5 years of service.

In general, the car already needs attention and hands, and after 10 years of exploitation many things should be simply replaced or repaired. It is necessary to check everything while buying. However, body trifles are really trifles.


The Focus has not bad modern interior with quite acceptable quality of finishing. Materials can not be called expensive, but there are a lot of soft plastic, good metallization. Wearability is quite high, even with mileages over 150 thousand kilometers the interior can be put in order with quality dry cleaning and replacement of damaged items. The steering wheel does not lose its texture, if the driver does not scratch it with rings, and the seat does not crumple and deform, if the owner is not heavier than a hundred kilograms.

ford focus mk3 interior

The successfully chosen material of the contact surfaces usually keeps its look even with high mileage. Well, there are almost no damages of buttons and displays, except that multimedia systems are not the most reliable here. The owners' fetish is the covers on all fasteners. In a factory variant all fasteners of seats and belt locks are open to view.

From typical problems I recollect only unsuccessful fastening of a back shelf on hatchbacks: it breaks. Well, the clips are disposable, and the interior creaks mercilessly in cold weather. Gluing helps, but requires straight hands and replacement of fasteners.

The climate control is characterized by a grumpy motor, and the radiator gets clogged easily. Do not forget to change antifreeze, if you like warmth in interior. The air conditioner has such a weak condenser, that it is simply replaced for a new one after 6-8 years of exploitation, and earlier while driving on highways. A part of its honeycomb gets clogged up, and the lower ones fall out (the installation of a protective mesh in the bumper saves), and as a result the system simply does not work. Well, and sealing of tubes and quality of seals leave much to be desired. Focus III is one of those cars, in which conditioner often needs to be filled up every season already after the first three years of exploitation. In general there is nothing criminal, but it is troublesome.


The new electronics is unified with EUCD platform and other related ones, so the Focus of this generation is a very intellectual car. But the quality of wiring is frankly unimportant, and it concerns a number of critical units. For example, both the petrol pump is weak, and the wiring to it is made unsuccessfully. The situation is complicated by the fact that there is no access hatch to the gas tank, and the fuel filter is on the pump. Against this background, it is less important that the wiring to the generator has poor contact, or door connectors oxidize easily and effortlessly, because they are not sealed, or the wiring breaks in the door corrugations. And door locks have very short service life of motors and limit switches. These are trifles, it happens with other brands as well, though many have it later.

Worse, the ECU connector suffers, as it is located in a wet niche and is not properly sealed. Also the BCM block, it is the same block of cabin fuses, received very amusing vulnerability: the wire of a motor of a windshield washer receives water. Straight into the block. All cars with this electronics had such trouble, both Mondeo IV and Jaguar XF. In the first stage, the car just behaves strangely, not always turning on what it needs. And in the final stage the block gets loose, and it stops remembering the car's VIN, loses its keys and doesn't allow to start the engine. The unit itself is located in rather vulnerable place, in passenger's feet, it adds problems. In general, you need to install a clutch on the washer wire, this helps avoid problems in principle, and check the unit for corrosion of connectors and the board. Summary: possible high electronics costs if the car has been poorly maintained.

Running gear

Brake system

Simple single-piston calipers on all "civilian" versions of the car are quite reliable. Although some of owners complain about ineffective braking, in practice, usually the car brakes adequately, considering power of 100-150 hp engines. And powerful 184 hp version uses disks with diameter of 298 mm. Disks are light in comparison with Focus 2 disks, but structurally they are the same. Both front discs and pads are interchangeable with discs and pads from Focus of previous generation. No problems due to lightened discs have not been noticed, if they are sometimes driven, it is usually due to poor-quality components.

In back, calipers with built-in handbrake mechanism, all are ATE production, but the construction is special: not with screw pads compression, but with sly lever variant. Here the rod is pressed by the dryer, and the screw rod is used only for work of automatic drive system and compensation of pads wear. Unlike the classic TRW design, the main problem here is not stuffing box leakage, but breakage of the self-drive mechanism. However, packing leaks are also present. The bump rod which moves the rod and swivel arm shaft have a little freedom of movement relative to each other, what leads to warping and jamming. At the same mechanism self drive pad at the expense of the screw rod, rotating in the thread piston, and diverting spring, too, far from ideal. The breadcrumb falls off and does not press the shoe, the mechanism of reset capricious, and the brake block does not clamp the shoe - in general, the number of failures even increased in comparison with more widespread variant from TRW and its analogs. 

From pluses is that the body of a caliper does not corrode at a place of an output of a rod under the gland. But it is little consolation. And, unlike other modern cars, the rule "twitch the handbrake more often, it will work longer" does not work here. It is better to use the handbrake less often. Yes, cables are not very reliable, and tensioning is made quite well, right from interior, it is enough to disassemble the back part of the central console. But usually this kind of work is required once in 5-6 years, so it does not cause the owners much indignation.

The ABS system is differed by disgusting wiring to sensors. Although there are even plastic protective caps on the sensor wire, but it is under them that the wire usually rots: the fault is poor quality wiring. Most of other system problems are also connected with wiring and dirt in the engine compartment. The ABS unit is near the main brake cylinder and vacuum cleaner, but for some reason in that corner of the engine compartment, where the unit connector easily suffers from dirt. Interestingly, the engine control unit is next to it, but on the other side of the engine compartment mudguard, just under the fender. But it's much cleaner there, as long as the locker is intact.


It is classical: McPherson in front, multilever in rear. The rear suspension has a slightly different shape of cross-arms compared to its predecessor, although the geometry corresponds to the analogue of the "second" Focus station wagon. Levers remain interchangeable, but they have different seating diameters of silent blocks and bolts. The longitudinal trailing arm silentblock can be supplied by the second Focus, but the dimensions of the parts are different. However, you can put a longitudinal rear suspension arm assembly with all the rubber-metal elements from the second generation on the third. It will fit as native, only the mounting points of tubes and cables are different.

The support arm - with a different depth of spring installation, the Focus 3 spring goes into the arm more. Smaller components - bushings and stabilizer rods - are the same in some versions, but may have different diameters and thread pitch. The front subframe is compatible in terms of mounting dimensions, but has differences in the mountings of the protection, exhaust system suspension and anti-roll bar. The front shock struts differ only in mountings of brake hoses and characteristics. In terms of geometry, everything is the same, as are the springs and supports. Rear shock absorbers have a different design, but are geometrically interchangeable.

Focus III levers prior to a restyling were made of aluminum, with non-replaceable ball bearings, whereas the majority of its predecessors had steel ones. According to geometry everything is the same, the only difference is diameter of ball stud, it comes in 18 and 21 mm. The springs and supports are also not much different from the predecessor. Is that the rubber part of the support is lost a lot in size, the bearing is the same, but has been also simplified, deprived of the dust cover.

It is very important in the process of selecting elements for repair not to confuse what is from what. And it is desirable to find out beforehand, what variant of suspension is on your car, to avoid changing all set. And "hodgepodge" at the "prudent" owner can appear much.

As to a resource, there are no any complaints. Bearings of supports and front supports are weak, but it is rather inexpensive element, and if you set non-original bearing it will run much longer than the original one. Front ball joints on good roads are good for 150 thousand, and then you need to replace the lever assemblies. Repressing and "restoration" makes no sense, it is easier to put steel levers with 21 mm replacement ball joints. Installation of original pre-styling aluminum levers is also meaningless - at a price of 31 thousand for the original there will be clearly no volunteers. Even with restyling steel levers will be two times cheaper, and non-original even two or three times more affordable.

Exactly such pricing makes the owners to turn the car into a construction set from elements of different manufacturers and even from different cars.  For this reason, very few Focuses are serviced at dealers after warranty completion.


Depending on the engine and market, it is possible to meet the third Focus with two types of steering. The cars with an atmospheric engine 1,6 are obliged to have hydraulic booster, and other versions have electric booster, and very progressive, with a motor on the rack. The variant with hydraulic booster is reliable enough, if to change oil in the system in time and not to overheat a rack - a radiator is frankly weak, oil gets hot, and seals lose elasticity. This is typical for cars with a dull crankcase protection and with air conditioner running for hours in jams in forty-degree heat. There is no temperature sensor of CPS oil, so one can argue about the reasons. But it would be desirable to change the oil more often, as it contains a little bit of additives, which maintain elasticity of seals. And sometimes the owners take the trouble to mount a radiator with fins.

The electric rack has no such problems. But the crunch after 120-150 mileage is quite common. The reason is mainly in the nut under the clamping spring. It is plastic and over time just falls apart due to oil ingress. The plastic shaft end sleeves fall apart in a similar way. There are metal clip nuts, fluoroplastic retainer nuts, and shaft sleeves on sale, and installing them generally solves the problem.

The wiring to the rack is not too good, the tightness of the connector and the presence of water-displacing grease in it both need to be monitored. Most serious rack repairs involve water getting into the connector and control box. The recirculating ball bearing on the gearbox is also weak, and you usually try to replace it if the rack is removed for reassembly. The belt tears mostly due to the ball reducer jamming. And this happens if water gets into the rack. There is definitely a problem with the tightness of the structure. It is highly recommended to have the crossbar overhauled every 100 thousand to preventive maintenance, to keep the dust caps tight, the tightness of the crossbar joint, and to avoid mud deposits on the body. The lugs life is not so long, they are a little bit lighter and cheaper, but there is the same situation as with the original suspension components - quality non-original are more durable and last longer.


Common problems

 Fortunately, the most popular engines 1.6 with manual transmission and automatic transmission have no problems with either external or internal CV joints. Strongly "branded" offers no, but the prices are small, and the life of these substitutes is decent.

Manual Transmissions

All manual transmissions are familiar from the reviews of Ford Fiesta and different Volvo models. There are quite a few cars with manuals in the population, since Ford has some serious problems with the automatic transmission. And the main trouble with the manual transmission here is the same as before. In fact, with an atmospheric engine 1.6 put the same box iB5, which caused complaints on the predecessor, and in the Fusion, it has not worked reliably. Due to the fact that the new car became heavier, and the 125 horsepower versions meet more often, this box serves less, sometimes even with mileage up to a hundred thousand miles suffering from breakage.

The main problem with the iB5 is differential failure, but the shaft bearings are also weak. You miss the oil level a bit and it starts howling. Parts aren't cheap, it's usually easier to swap the whole box for a six-speed. Gears will be too stretched for an atmospheric engine, but you don't have to listen to howling of the box and experience characteristic twitching of biting differential in turns, hinting that the pin will soon come out, having broken the body of the gearbox. Some wear of synchronizers of the second-third gear at runtimes over 150 and cable jamming after long idle times are present, but they are in the category of "small troubles".

Box MTX75 is found mainly in two-liter atmospheric cars, the disadvantages are again leaky seals and poor lubrication of the main shaft bearings. Better to pour a little more oil and change it more often. The flywheel on the Focus III is dual mass, but you can build a single mass flywheel kit.

The B6 transmission is found with the supercharged 1.6 and 1.5 gasoline engines up to 182 hp, the supercharged 1.0 120/125 hp, and the 1.6 turbodiesel in all its variants up to 115 hp. It's a fairly trouble-free MCU, even leaks almost none. But the flywheels are strictly dual-mass.

The two-liter diesel engines and all versions of gasoline engines with more than 183 hp are equipped with a 6-speed manual MMT6. The gearbox withstands heavy loads, but punctured gears, oil leaks and dead bearings, alas, are not uncommon here. Difficulty shifting gears because of worn clutch teeth, bent forks and fork lugs wear is just an everyday occurrence. Let's add here the increased number of bearings because of the scheme with two secondary shafts and the complicated gear selection mechanism. As a result, it turns out that many controls of this series were repaired under warranty, with replacement of clutches and forks. And even the details were improved a couple of times during the period of Focus III release. In general, when buying cars with such transmission, it is necessary to check thoroughly, how it works.

Dual mass flywheels from Ford, LuK or Sachs construction have approximately the same life, on average up to 120-150 thousand, and usually do not survive more than 200 thousand.

Automatic transmissions

This model is not so lucky with automatic transmissions. Betting on the pre-selective PowerShift gearboxes made by Getrag was a mistake. The design was noticeably less successful than even famous DSG DQ200 from VW. The attempt to get rid of "archaic" hydraulics in the drive and leave only direct electric drive for all actuators led to a serious loss of reliability. Against this background, after restyling, the equipment of cars with 1,5 and 1,0 engines with usual six-speed automatic transmission with torque converter was accepted by all with enthusiasm, even taking into account the fact that this box was not the best. Even a set for "kolhoznaya" installation of automatic transmission from old Toyota with pneumohydraulic control unit is on sale for the cars before restyling. Somebody "swap" there the good old 4F27E from Ford/Mazda or even Aisin AW81-40LE.

About the problems of the robot 6DCT250 we have already told in detail in the review of the Fiesta VII, in which this box is also the main type of automatic transmission, and therefore we will limit ourselves to a brief description of the features.

So, the main type of automatic transmission for Focus III is a 6-speed preselective "robot" of 6DCT250 series. Mechanically, it does not have any unique solutions. But the gear drive mechanism and clutch block are not made the same way as the main competitor's DSG. Actuators of shifting and clutch are not hydraulic, even if driven by the electric pump, but with simple direct electric drive. Unfortunately, the design appeared not just raw, but frankly raw. The unit with two electric motors, which through reducers drives two fork shift blocks, has problems both mechanically and electrically, and the control electronics itself is weak. Everything is crumbling, from the wear and tear of the "guitar" gears in the box itself to cracks in the block circuit board, cold soldering and burnout of the control unit contacts. Now the price for Continental, Mexican or Indian TCM units has risen over 50 grand again and comes to 160 grand, but there was a time when the new 105 series units (look at the label on the unit for sure) cost only 30 grand. There is no sense to buy 101-104 series units, these are problematic versions, even if they are really new and not remanufactured from the Chinese site. And there are plenty of fakes now too.

The two clutch release forks at 14-19 thousand, which for some reason bend with time, and two blocks of their drive at 12-22 thousand for the original are also consumables, but in general these elements fail less often than TCM. It is necessary to add sensors to the list of elements, which can require replacement, including clutch position.

And of course, the clutch unit is an expendable, and with any problems with TCM and other elements, it instantly wears out. In ideal conditions it can pass 120-200 thousand, but it strongly depends on the condition of other parts of the box and operating conditions. The kit comes with a squeeze block and a set of two forks - it is absolutely unprofitable to buy them separately. It's interesting that there are a bunch of power plastic elements in the squeeze bearing block design, but the bulk of the trouble is not related to them at all. Rather, metal plate forks lose geometry, rollers of expander motors jam, or block of dampers of torsional vibration break down. Let's add here oil ingress on clutch linings through transmission and engine glands and problems, connected with it, because of clutch slipping and even swelling of friction pads. The compression force is minimal, and there is simply no huge reserve, like there is in the usual clutch of the manual transmission. The clutches are constantly opened and are compressed by the drive very sparingly. The algorithms of work of the box prevent the clutches from overheating, and the oil does not burn out.

Because of the relatively low prevalence of this type of automatic transmission with specialists and restoration of components is also difficult. This box was put on Ford, Renault and related brands. But they are very far from Volkswagen in terms of volume, the stock for TCM and clutch units is small, and the quality of repairs is very mediocre. The Chinese industrial rebuilds vary greatly in quality, from quite factory-made to outright homemade.

The preselective box with the friction block in an oil bath has the designation Getrag 6DCT450 and gives much less small troubles. Its design is a little bit older. True, whether it is cheaper in operation is a big question. The solenoids and the mechatronic unit design is almost the same here as it is in Volkswagen DQ250, because Getrag supported Volkswagen in development of these transmissions.

The list of the main illnesses is noticeably shorter than that of the "dry" box. The main complaints are about the comparatively early wear of the clutch pack: after 120,000 km run in a normal city cycle it can wear down to the glue layer, and you can burn the steel disks. The first problem is associated with severe contamination of box oil. That in its turn causes contamination of solenoids, jerks, reduction of the oil pump life, the necessity of frequent oil and filter changes in order to maintain the design life.

A frankly unsuccessful design solution was to combine the dual-mass torsional vibration damper with the clutch block basket. In theory, this increases the life of the damper, but in practice, the plastic spring guides of the block crumble from the hot oil and contaminate the box. Primary shaft bearing wear is closely related to the vibration problem due to a broken damper. Oil leaking through the huge front box oil seal also intersects with damper and bearing wear. The oil seal itself is quite large and expensive, and trouble with the shaft causes accelerated wear.

There are no serious difficulties with repairing the clutch itself. There are now separate plastic washer-retainers for rebuilding the damper and spring, friction kits, pistons and cuff cover with oil seal on sale, so there are no real obstacles to repairing the friction and damper assembly. Buying a new clutch for 200k makes no sense.

The price of consumables for a complete box rebuild is only about eight thousand. In addition, the clutch fork tips often need replacement. With long operation with vibrations and dirty oil the bearings and pump suffer. But in this respect the box is rather unpretentious.

In general, at the moment it is somewhat capricious, but quite adequate in operation. Provided that its potential repair is made in service, which sees it not for the first time, the service has special tools for disassembly and does not aspire to cheat the owner for the maximum sum. When buying the car, consider that any vibrations and bumps during shifts hint at the necessity of big overhaul. It's a pity that on the Focus III this box was available only with EcoBoost engines and diesels, and it was not installed on the most popular versions.

But after the restyling with EcoBoost engines the full-fledged 6F35 automatic transmission was installed on 3 and 4 cylinders. The very name reminds the name of GM 6T35 transmission, and it is for a reason. Yes, this box is co-developed and Ford produced a variant of it under that name. Unlike designs of GM, there is much more conservative firmware, planetary gears are delivered with a little bit more reserve, as a result the box is much more reliable. Even the wear of torque converter bushings and breakage of the 3-5-R drum and primary shaft caliper starts only when the box has not been serviced for a very long time and at the same time has been well loaded. What happens to related 6T40 boxes is useful to read to understand what will happen to it under high loads and mileage, but for all the similarity in design there is still no complete overlap in breakdowns. This once again proves how much depends on firmware and auxiliary system settings, even on complex units.

All-wheel drive

Focus has all-wheel drive only in RS version, and we hardly ever saw such cars in real life. Well and foreign users swear about angular gear splines and weak rear drives. With 350 horsepower this is to be expected.


Common problems

All engines here have weak radiators, rather squishy plastic, rubber and expansion tanks. And not very successful radiator fans on a number of modifications, with a problematic control unit. All this at a high price for original parts is not always of excellent quality. The car requires a very meticulous approach to the diagnostics of the cooling system and under-hood electrical system.

Gasoline engines

The vast majority of cars are equipped with simple and reliable 1.6 Sigma/ Zetec S/ Duratec Ti-VCT engines. Some more are their supercharged 1.5 and 1.6 Ecoboost variants. Less reliable, but relatively simple and easy to understand overall.  These engines were developed by Ford with Yamaha's support back in the '90s and proved very successful. When they appeared in 1995, they were called Zetec S, they were renamed Duratec in the early 2000s. Actually, the engines have their own names, but it is unlikely if you say that you need a gasket for a JQDA engine, they can help you in the hardware store, even in a specialized Ford one. They simply don't use unit names, so I have to explain that you need gaskets for Ecoboost 1,6

The construction is standard for the budget engines of that time. The block is aluminum with cast-iron liners, 16-valve cylinder head with direct valve train. The timing belt drive was a belt, and the modernization with phase control was foreseen at once, it is clear from the design of the cylinder head. There is a simple plastic inlet, distributed injection. The ignition is by the scheme with an idle spark. The tray is also simple, the block has no reinforcing trim at the bottom. Piston group initially with quite light piston. In general, an uncomplicated and quite efficient engine.

The motor with variable timing phase was named Duratec Ti-VCT, but the essence remains the same. When turbocharging and direct injection were added to the engine, it was assigned to the Ecoboost family. But the basis is still the same 1995 block with minor changes, the cylinder head from Yamaha has undergone relatively minor changes for all 27 years of the model's production. The layout of the linkages has remained the same, and many features have been retained: the need to adjust valve clearances with tappets, the location of the thermostat, and so on. Ford's habit to give only marketing names to engine lines makes it difficult to trace the history of the units, but it has a positive effect on the reliability of the design. In fact, the engine is one of the strongest sides of the Focus.

In terms of piston group life the 1.6 motors (85-125 hp) are among the leaders in its class, the cars with mileage over 500,000 are often not even a hint of overhaul.  Small oil leakage is noticeable even with service intervals of about 8 thousand kilometers, but it is stable and grows very slowly. It usually appears after the mileage of about 150-200 thousand kilometers. Yellow station wagons with mileage of 750k frequently have only oil consumption of 0.5 liter per 1000 km, which is not too bad by today's standards, and the main reason is banal - lodging of scraper rings.

However, at the same time the engines have enough small defects related to the quality of manufacturing. Thus crankcase gases ventilation is a big headache.

Throttle position sensors and ignition coils last surprisingly little, and engine wiring in general is capricious. The ignition coil here is common, there are also spark plug wires, the system has not been improved to individual coils.  The alternator on these engines often fails. 

Nozzle connectors are weak, wiring to them is fragile, it is better not to disassemble in the cold. The injectors themselves are quite capricious, because the fuel filtration system is frankly unsuccessful. Few people change the mesh filter on the gas pump in time - you need to remove the tank and know that the filter is sold separately from the pump unit: in the catalog it is a single part. There are no other filters in the system.

One often forgets about clearances in timing belt drive, and after 60-80 thousand they need adjustment. And if one forgets about it for years, he/she will have to change burnt valves and stuffed camshafts. The adjustment procedure is not simple: tappets are removed as a whole, and only after removal of camshafts. And they are marked inside - until you take them off, you can't order the needed one. It is convenient only for a dealer. However, it is easy to check clearances, and practice shows that increase of clearance even by three-four hundredths does not create any problems, the main thing is not to clamp the valves. The phasor regulators are available for all versions of engines, and they are not especially reliable, often serve less than 150 thousand. But the price is also saving, from 10 to 19 thousand for original.

At mileages over 120,000, cold engines usually have unpleasant knocking sound of pistons, in such condition it is better not to load them. It does not lead to anything good: bad heater operation in the majority of cases is a sign of thermostat failure, but not the fact that 82 degrees is not enough for heating of interior. At "hot" thermostat reliability of the engine considerably decreases, in summer, detonation is distinctly heard at 92 petrol, and the resource of all plastic and rubber parts decreases. The thermostat body is plastic and prone to leaks at overheats, as well as other plastic elements of the cooling system, so the thermostat will have to be removed again soon. The plastic intake manifold is reliable enough, but after overheating you need to watch for fluid leaks - it can get into the intake due to cracks in the manifold at the junction with the cylinder block.

In general, it is possible to find a hand here, but regarding a resource, atmospheric engines are all right. And the price for breakages is not high, if only not to try to repair faulty engine.

The EcoBoost motors on this block have two working volumes, 1,6 and 1,5 liters. The second differs in the crankshaft with a smaller piston stroke and appeared only after the restyling. The main differences from the atmospheric engines of the same series are the use of direct injection and of course the turbine BorgWarner LP39 or KKK T3. The manifold is separate, thin-walled steel.

Ford's direct injection was initially plagued by fuel injector leaks in the oil. And the injectors turned out to be capricious. And then it turned out that the firmware is unsuccessful, the engine very easily slips to detonation, and the piston is not ready for it, and the pistons even split.

Neither the crankshaft, nor the cylinder block is designed for the torque of over 240 Nm. Exactly for this reason the engine 1.5 has a smaller piston stroke, its crankshaft is much stronger, and the problems with liners are less frequent. The 1.6 motors have a conventional air-to-air intercooler, but the size of the core leaves much to be desired, so many put a noticeably larger one for normal driving in the summertime.  The liquid intercooler on 1.5 is productive enough for short "boosts", but with time it begins to overheat the air at a long load due to contamination of radiators, and the condition of the pump needs to be monitored.

As a whole, the engine 1,5 is noticeably more reliable, if to speak about 150 hp variants, and more powerful versions do not live in our conditions. Only the fanatics who don't pour anything but hundredth of gasoline, better oil and fanatically watch the temperature and detonation.

Turbines are quite reliable, the manifold is more likely to fail. Thin-walled steel construction is a time bomb after 150 thousand mileage. It is better to replace the manifold in advance with a Chinese cast iron one, even if it cracks, the turbine will be alive. And chunks of burnt steel from the factory one will easily kill a hot impeller or even a cartridge.

The liter Ecoboost is a completely different motor. It is rare, and there is no need to grieve about it. The block is solid, the injection is well implemented, like on the 1.5. But the design with timing belt in oil bath is sensitive to oil type and temperature, and in any case with time it clogs the crankcase and oil receiver with sediments due to belt wear. And the price of replacement is still very high - Ford has made sure that maintenance is not cheap. There are special tools in the form of bolt tightening reducers, a bunch of new fasteners, big amount of work, and expensive components, which are extremely risky to take in non-original version. Well and again there are not enough specialists for these motors.

The two-liter engine is an old familiar engine, based on the Mazda series MZR block, which was installed on a bunch of other models, but with direct injection. And not the most successful either. Otherwise it is still the same simple, resource and mass engine. But there is absolutely no sense to buy a car with it. The unit is combined with PowerShift with dry clutches, and the power advantage is minimal. On the resource and cost of operation this engine variants with atmospheric motors 1,6 is not superior.

We've already covered supercharged variants on the same block for Focus ST and RS versions in reviews of the Freelander 2, Mazda CX-7, and Volvo S60 II. This is a very raw version, with obvious problems. The same problems that the very first 2.3 DISI on the Mazda had are present in the much newer Ecoboosts. The block is strong enough, but the stuffing is "on the limit", connecting rods, liners, valves and pistons - literally all elements are ready to surprise the owner. Complicated by all recommendations for oil - as well as other engines, this one prescribes very low viscosity SAE20, so liners and turbines die in pairs.

Diesel engines

Diesel engines are the same excellent units from PSA. The 1.6 and 1.5 engines are basically the good old DV6/DV5 in 8-valve form. An excellent engine in its category.

The two-liter diesel is a great French DW10. They are rare on the Focus, unlike the Peugeot / Citroen.

Which Ford Focus trim is most reliable?

The Ford Focus III in terms of body and interior isn't bad, but it's eclectic. A new advanced platform, nice design and trim materials, while disposability is found here and there. These are badly processed underbody and falling apart wiring. It would be alright, but for some mechanical problems and prices for spare parts.

Buying Focus III is a real problem to choose. If you really want a fairly new car, or you just haven't found another C-Class station wagon, Ford definitely has something to offer. The main thing is to thoroughly check the body in all problematic places, and take a car with a manual transmission and a 1.6 motor. In extreme case, with supercharged 1,5 and automatic transmission. Not bad option with diesels 1,5 and 1,6 on manual gearbox. And check, check everything thoroughly! It's important to remember that there are a bunch of weird features in the design, with Ford parts and their delivery everything is sometimes not easy, and catalogs are somewhat alternative.