2001 Ford Focus - Time to Give it Up?


I really don’t want to think about this, but I have a 2001 Ford Focus, which I like, but am thinking it may be time to consider a new car. I paid about $9,000 for it, and have had about $8300 done in maintaining it since I bought it in 2003, and today as I was leaving work, I heard the loudest THUD I have ever heard which sounded like it was coming from the area of the right front tire. The KBB lists the trade in value in good condition at $2500 or so, and in fair condition, it’s $1975. I’m headed to the mechanic first thing tomorrow to see if he can find out what the noise might have been and how much it will be to replace, then I may have a decision to make. I’ve got a few cars in mind should it come to that.


It may be time to throw in the towel on this one but it would sure be interesting to see a breakdown of this 8300 dollars.
That’s an awful lot of money for a comparatively short length of time.


For $8300 you could have found a good used car AND a spare rebuilt engine just in case…probably with enough left over to buy a year’s supply of microbrew.

I’m also curious to know the history of repair on this car. It might speak to the overall problem here.


The Focus was a car that I thought would fade fast. It didn’t go exactly as I thought but they really drop off when they get older. Statistically of course. Overall of course. Yours didn’t have to cost you so much but; come to think of it; you didn’t mention how many miles are on it. If it has 220,000 on it then it was a good one.


Sorry, I realized that I forgot to mention how many miles are on it. There’s about 107,700 miles on it, and about $1500 of the repairs the past six months were both the front and rear brakes (replaced), and the spark plugs and spark plug wires replaced. Back when I did my 60K service in 2005 they also did a transmission flush, and flushed the engine as well as replacing the spark plugs and wires, which was about $860. The big repair was also in 2005 when I had to replace all the tires as well as the tie rod and ball joint in the right front tire, which was about $1100. There was also body work done to replace the rear bumper from a minor rear end collision which was about $640. Another major repair was back in 2004 when I had to replace the EGR pipe as well as the front brakes, even though the dealer told me when I purchased the car in 2003 with 24,700 miles that they replaced the brakes, but for all I know they just adjusted them.


A lot of those things you mention are normal wear and tear items that occur on any car. However, it seems that some of those prices you’re paying are a bit high to me.

An example might be the big repair you mention. Unless you’re using some real high dollar tires 1100 sounds a bit much for this repair. A quick look shows that a tie rod and ball joint should run about 60-80 bucks or so, parts wise. Figure 3 hours labor (200 or so).
Same with the 1500 brake/plugs/wire job. It sounds pretty steep even if the brake rotors were replaced on both ends of the car.

Without having the repair orders to pore over or knowing your location (it does make a little difference) I won’t come out and say that you’re being had a bit but I do think you can have repair work done much cheaper. My suggestion in the future is to price a job around first before committing to it. Get at least 3 and preferably 4 estimates up front.
An '01 Focus with only a shade over a 100k miles should not have required this much money to maintain.


Well that loud bang I heard last night was the coil spring breaking, and according to my mechanic that I go to in New Jersey, (an independent shop, approved by AAA), stated that the coil spring is no longer available separately, that he would have to buy the coil spring as well as the strut, and to make matters worse, after a new one was put in, then the balance of the car would be off, so he had to replace both coil springs and struts, which cost about $870. After talking with my parents, we went ahead and did it, because we didn’t want to be forced, or rushed into getting a new car, but before the year is out, I may be getting a new car. I’m trying to hold out until late this calendar year when good deals come about when dealers try to unload their 2008 inventory. As of right now I’m leaning towards either a Hyundai Elantra, a Honda Civic, a Scion tC, a Mazda 3, or a Toyota Corolla.


FYI front disc brakes cannot be adjusted


$870 to replace the front strut assemblies borders on obscene, even at Joisey prices. And the mechanic lied to you: replacement springs are readily available at around $100 a pair.

Shop for another mechanic, not another car. The 2001 model year was problematic for the Focus, but you having been dumping big bucks for mostly routine wear-and-tear maintenance items that will occur in ANY car.


I agree with NYBo on all points of course.
This latest repair just reinforces the point that your repair bills have been made unnecessarily high.

You want to know WHY your mechanic wants to use the strut and spring assembly? (Called a Quick Strut)
It’s because it requires much less time to do; pure and simple.
So let me ask this. Just what kind of labor is he talking about for a pair of Quick Struts?


I can see that your repair work has been too expensive. You just live in an expensive area and you should shop for lower prices, especially for the easy repair work that has been done. Your car is not really falling apart; just some minor parts which are made smaller these days because the weight of the car is lowered. There isn’t any reserve strength in the lighter springs. At least not on your Focus. Collision repair doesn’t count for reliability.

I have to agree.  You biggest problem is not the car, but the shop that you are paying.  Find a good mechanic and save a ton of money and have a longer living car.  Be suspicious of the shop that tells you you need more service than is listed in the owner's manual.


You paid $1500 for brakes, plugs and wires!??!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

Good grief, man, close your wallet!

I think I know the problem here…


It was about a little over 2 hours labor, plus an alignment.


OK, I may have been over rounding a bit. It was roughly around 1,000 for the front and rear brakes, and about $300 for the spark plugs and wires, so probably closer to $1300.


I have attached the spreadsheet that I keep of the maintenance on my car, but purposely took out the names of the vendors.


It looks like this car has been very well maintained, it probably is worth keeping. The shop that is servicing it is not cheap, at least for my area, but they are taking good care of your car. Cars are expensive, the other alternative might be to lease a car and repalce it every 2 or 3 years.


Yeah, the shop I take it to stated that I do a good job of maintaining the car, and at first glance you would never know that it has 108,000 miles despite the high repair costs.


Still absolute highway robbery!!!

Brake rotors for a 2001 Focus (good quality ones) run $60 each front, $40 each rear. That’s $200 for those. Good quality pads will be $60 front and $50 rear. That’s $110, for a total of $310 for parts. Labor for front and rear should be 1 hour, 2 absolute tops. I’m not a professional (not even close) and I can do one axle in 15 minutes. That means $500 at absolute most for brakes

A Good set of plug wires is about $45 and good NGK Iridiums are only $7 each. That’s $73 for parts. Again, labor shouldn’t be more than an hour on a plug/wire change for a simple 4 cylinder Focus. That’s around $150.

In other words, this really should have been more in the $650 range, not anywhere NEAR $1300