(not my actual car... my car looked like that, but with a shorter replacement antenna and more rust on the rocker panels)
So... some post-mortem thoughts on my 2005 Focus Wagon SE....
- I bought it 2.5 years ago for an all-in price (included safety and e-test) for CAD$2000. At that time it had about 236,000km on it. At the time of death, it had about 299,000km on it.
- Over that time, when I include ALL costs (vehicle registration, maintenance,repairs, depreciation, insurance, fuel and one parking ticket), the Focus’s average cost was about CAD$475/month... or 24.1 cents/km.
- The suspension on the Focus doesn’t age as gracefully as on other cars, like the PT Cruiser. The Focus apparently has a ‘passive rear steering’ feature to the rear independent suspension. Problem is as the car ages and the bushings get worn, on certain curves, the rear end can feel unstable.
- If I get another Focus Wagon, I’ll want it to be an SES model... not the crappy SE model I had which had manual windows.
- I was tempted to replace the driver’s seat with one from an SVT Focus... because Ford installs cheap seats where the seat back gradually bends to one side with age/use
- Parking brake cables on these are a pain in the ass
- With the Duratech engine that came in as of 2005, there is a difficult-to-diagnose/Fix issue where you usually have to try starting 2-3 times. This can be due to a number or combo of issues... worn plugs, ignition coils, spark plug boots/springs, crap that builds up in the intake due to the EGR, weak ground, weak battery and maybe a couple of other things. I replaced my plugs, coils, spark plug boots/springs, battery and cleaned the ground wires and used dielectric grease on them. It helped a little, but the problem still persisted
- The thermostat is a pain in the ass to get to... as is the PCV.
- Replacing the rear wheel bearings is not hard. And actually, on Focii with rear drum brakes, if you have to service the brakes, spend the extra few dollars and get the brake drum that already has a new bearing pressed into it. I got the rear brakes serviced and I suspect the mechanic didn’t do that... so I looked up how the bearing replacement was done, bought the parts needed along with an axle nut socket and did it myself
- Ford cheaped out with the fluid in the manual transmission. If you want the transmission to last, you go to a Ford SVT dealer and get their synthetic manual transmission fluid. I did that on mine as I found it was difficult to get it into first at times... particularly when cold. And 5 gear liked to pop out every so often
- If you ever run into a situation where you push down the clutch on one of these and it won’t even turn over, let alone start, feel around under the dash for the neutral safety switch and press on it down further while trying to start. They wear out over time. And the way Ford designed the tab on the clutch pedal, it only pushes on the switch a little. Replacement switches stick out further, making the problem less likely.
And now onto more fun stuff... Below is the raw list of candidate vehicles so far. And the leading candates are a black 2008 Honda Fit for $4000, a 2005 Focus Wagon SES for $1500 and a 2003 Suzuki Aerio for $1000. And that 2007 Saab 9-3 Wagon for $2000 is tempting as well.