I woke up this morning, on America’s birthday, and said to myself “if this damn country loves me 1/10th of how much I love it, then it will fix this wretched Ford today.”

Just a brief recap of what’s happened with this Focus. The car was in rough shape and I decided fixing everything would get me pretty close to something better. So I bought an RX-8. And as I avoid wrenching on my primary car, I kept the Focus around as a rehab project. Since then:

  • The struts blew, causing the rear O2 sensor to slam into the subframe and short the entire system. MIL comes on.
  • The front passenger strut took about 8-10 hours to put in, because the strut body and the knuckle was an interference fit. It eventually seated after I jacked it up by the control arm and hit it with a mallet a good 300 times after hammering a screwdriver in the pinch bolt slot.
  • The front driver strut had the pinch bolt badly stripped by the previous owner. After heating it with MAP gas and using a reverse-fluted socket, it still wouldn’t budge, and went to the shop.
  • The front O2 was replaced. The rear O2 was so badly bent from hitting the subframe it also went to the shop, since a low-profile crowfoot couldn’t grab it.
  • The MIL remains on.
  • The fuse for the O2 heaters had blown due to the short. Replace fuse. MIL remains on.
  • O2 sensor heaters are not getting voltage. After backprobing 4-5 connectors, give up on fixing the harness correctly, and splice in a new wire.
  • MIL remains on. More on that in a minute.
  • Oh, the car was leaking oil. Valve cover gasket. Take apart valve cover. Find previous owner broke two bolts in the head. Perfect.
  • Fracture is so jagged a reverse-fluted EZ-Out can’t grab it. Gonna have to get drilled. Bring it to the shop for that, since I’m not drilling steel bolts out of a very-hard-to-find aluminum head in my driveway.
  • Still leaking oil. Take it in for an undercarriage hand wash so we can source the leak.
  • Did you guess? IT’S STILL THE VALVE COVER!
  • Actually, the shop gets it taken apart, and finds it’s actually the VCT solenoid bolted into the valve cover has broken in half. Naturally, this was an SVT specific part, with no aftermarket replacement made. OEM is over $600. By some miracle, there is a used one available on the forums, only the second in the last couple years.
  • Oh, shit, that fixed the oil leak. Pull MIL codes. Rear O2 sensor, rear O2 sensor heater, knock sensor. Great, a new thing to fix.
  • Find that there is not a conclusive opinion on what the rear O2 sensor for the SVT is. Buy the other one. Plan on fixing the O2 sensor.

Wake up this morning, on America’s birthday, a literal year after buying the RX-8, and say to myself “if this damn country loves me 1/10th of how much I love it, then it will fix this wretched Ford today.” Drive it to the mechanic, with the second O2 sensor in hand, pull it into the garage and park it. While waiting for the tech, do a walk-around in the engine bay. Check fuses and wiring.


Find a shattered clip on a weatherpack. Zip tie it together. Flash ECU. Start car. Shut off car. Start car.

MIL is off.