Low Miles ≠ Low Maintenance

My wife’s grandma noticed a puddle of coolant under her ‘03 Focus ZX3 (auto) the other day.

Not that puddle, that was me cleaning up the mess I made

Unable to look at it right away, I told her to take it to the garage down the street from her house and see what it was, and how detrimental it could be.

Apparently Zetec motors are notorious for eating the thermostat housing. YAY PLASTIC PARTS.

After a $600 quote to replace this $50 hunk of plastic, and do the front brakes which they noted as “bad”, she drove it home to their detest and I stopped by last week to look it over, and order correcting parts for about a quarter of what they quoted (my labor is cheap... she watches my kids and feeds them/me).

Sunday, yesterday, I stopped by with tools and parts in hand to make it right.

First thing I noticed is that the thermostat housing, while easy to get to with only three 10mm bolts holding it in, has FOUR hoses going to it of various sizes, with original POS spring type clamps on them. After wrestling them out of the way, I was greeted by the destruction inside the housing that caused the leak.

The sealing o-ring was no longer an O, nor was it sealing
Bits of broken plastic where the o-ring (bottom of pic) is supposed to reside

I threw the old part aside and with some new worm clamps, attached the new t-stat housing with much improved sealing surface.


That done, and coolant topped off, while he engine reached temperature I tackled the brakes, which were worse than “bad”


The driver’s side inner pad was metal on metal, and the backside of the rotor was rust pitted with whole chunks missing. Also missing is the pictures I took of the pile of bad parts....

The outer pad was about half worn, but the worst part of it all was the passenger side... the pads looked like new!


I replaced them anyways, and the rotors, for even smooth braking all around. And, because of the wonderful job Ford did designing the brakes, there was no caliper saddle to remove to swap rotors. Once the caliper was clear they popped right off. And new shiny ones slid right on.

I may have overdone it on the lube, but no one complains about too much lube, right?

All tidied up, I took her for a spin, and while she has some clunks and bumps from worn bushings and struts, it rides well and still has some decent power from the engine. Now, if only I could find a matching door to replace this rusted one...


So given the state of the car, and that it was handed down to my grandma-in-law from her daughter (my aunt-in-law if anyone is counting) more than 10 years ago when she got a then-new 2006 Focus 5-door, and is only used to run to the store and church and back, you’d be surprised to learn that it ONLY has...


82,065 miles. Yep. Doesn’t matter if it doesn’t get driven (though that might have added to the problems), if you neglect a car and leave it out in the driveway to rust and rot, it too will have failures.

Now, about that funny vibration and noise in gear.....

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