2000 Ford Focus Seized Engine

I have a 2000 Ford Focus with a 2L SOHC engine and it has set up. The car has about 117K on it.

The problem started the other night when I was delivering pizzas (no, I don’t beat my car on that job) and came back from a delivery. The car seemd to be running fine when I came back. But, when I went to go out on another trip, I started the engine and it stalled. I had some trouble getting it going again, but when I did, it was making this terrilbe banging noise (it appeared to be in the top end).

I took the car home and checked itout. I found that the #2 plug had its electrodes touching (which tells me that something may have gotten in there, but I couldn’t see anything) and it was also soaking wet with appeared to be gasoline. I installed a spare spark plug in place of the damaged on and the car started up, but it was running very badly. The sam,e baning noise was still in evidence.

While checking further (a day later), I was using my stethoscope to trace out the source of the sound and doing other little things to see if I could enhance or diminish the noise. The engine stalled and when I went to restart it, I found that it had jammed up and won’t budge.

The oil level is nearly full (I check it quite frequently) and the car used no more than 1/2 quart every 3-4K.

I removed the valve cover &didn’t find any signs of a dropped valve.

The timing belt was replaced back in late May and the car was doing just great afterwards and I took it on a trip from Iowa to New York without a problem.

I’m wondering if my engine is toast (due to a spun bearing or that one of the pistons has seized up).

Thank you for any advice on how to proceed with this and as to what may have happened.


Pull the #2 plug and see if it’s closed again. It’s almost a certainty that it is. I’d guess that it broke a head off a valve, and the broken valve has been banging around in the cylinder, until it finally turned sideways and jammed in the head.

Try turning the engine backwards with a wrench on the crankshaft. Then look into the spark plug hole for the pieces.

Another thing that may have happened is the connecting rod bearing insert may have burned out. A wrist pin may have galled and then spun, trashing that end. The broken valve seems like a much more likely possibility. I think a different car may be the best answer. Delivery is rough on a car even if the driver is good to it.

The #2 plug replacement didn’t close up. I’ve had the valve cover off and all the valves are still in place. I’ve looked into the spark plug hole and saw no signs of anything in there. I think a piece of carbon broke off and closed the spark plug gap, then it went out through the exhaust valve.

I see wrecked Foci every week. There are hundreds of engines out there that were running well when their cars got clobbered. Look at www.car-part.com for a good used engine in your area.

Did you know that the early Focus is the all-time winner for quantity of TSBs issued? They had a LOT of quality problems at their Mexican plant which were finally addressed by '04 or '05.

MG McAnick,

That is hilarious, Foci!
I never knew the plural of focus.

I would like a t-shirt saying, "I see wrecked Foci every week."
Also, that would be a good country-western song.

With the valve cover off you can only see the valve STEMS. If the valve’s head is broken off you’d not be able to see it.

Carbon would not be able to close a spark plug gap unless it was so big it could never have fit in the chamber in the first place, much less fit out through an exhaust valve.

Did you rotate the engine backwards with a wrench and look into the spark plug hole?

With some of the price quotes I’ve received for replacing that engine, I’m tempted to follow your advice on getting rid of the car. However, I’m still paying on it.


The SOHC engine on this car is prone to dropping valve seats. This sounds similar to my daughter’s car, but the engine did not seize. Instead, the #4 piston got jammed and busted the skirt to the point 2 rings were in the oil pan, and the metal below the wrist pin was gone (The pin was still engaged and piston moved). It managed to do this without damaging the cylinder wall. The #3 cylinder also had dibris in it from drawing in seat pieces through the EGR valve and intake. Replacement engine is ~$1100, Parts for my rebuild was ~$700 with my labor. I will be reassembling this Friday when I get the new Piston, Rings, Rod, and Bearings. I already had the head and valves done ~$250.

Unless you are at the end of payments for this peach I would go with a used engine replacement.

Good luck I hope for the best.

Wow! It reingested its own parts? Man, I’d have loved to have been there when you tore that engine down! You should mount those pieces in a shadow box!

That was funny, I needed a laugh.

If Marky knew how to tear down and rebuild an engine, he would not be delivering pizza. For him, a salvage yard motor is the best bet.

True…but the reply was to Garyschnid! Besides, there are probably lots of pizza delivery guys out there that can tear an engine down and rebuild it but simply don’t have their ASE certs…or haven’t graduated high school yet. But I agree that based on his post a boneyard engine may be his best bet.

I loved the parts about the skirt coming off the piston, like a prom date, and the engine reingesting its own parts.