Ford Focus rental

I just rented a Ford Focus in a rust-belt state with 31K miles from a well known nationwide rental firm. I needed to drive the car 3 hours farther north for a family event and was surprised by a load roar coming from the left front while on the highway. Once at my destination, the car exhibited vibration and a growl from the same corner at 30 mph. The tire was smooth all across showing no cupping or abnormal wear. I stopped by the local Ford dealer to confirm what I thought was a failing LF wheel bearing. The service writer confirmed the bad bearing and offered to fix it under warranty (a '13 car) if he had the part. He didn’t have one in stock.

I called the rental company and 2.5 hours later they replaced it with another Focus with 29K miles and a roar from the right rear. No vibration this time but the tire 4 tread block groups and the 2nd one from the inside had wicked uneven wear. Both cars were equipped with Cooper Zeon tires. I’ve never seen Coopers as an OE tire before (I consider them low cost replacements) nor would I expect a bearing failure that early (yeah, it could be the enormous potholes in that state). I like the car and would consider owning one but has anyone else here had these kind of experiences with a Focus or Cooper Zeon tires?

I had a set of Cooper CS3 Touring tires on a Civic. These appear to be a step down (cheaper) from the Zeon line. I had no problems with them. Did the Focus have the Power Shift “automated manual” transmission? If so, how’d it work? (There’s been lots of complaints.)

Wheel bearings don’t seem to be a big problem on the Focus. Of greater concern is complaints about the automatic transmission. I wouldn’t buy a Focus for that reason alone. Watch the video below and you won’t either.

OEM tires on compact cars are usually quite mediocre and the Cooper Zeon is no exception. You hope they wear out as soon as possible so you can then buy decent tires.

The auto trans shifted like it was confused most of the time on the 1st car but better, not perfect, on the 2nd. I’d consider a manual if a calibration update didn’t solve it.

I don’t consider the Focus to be a very high quality car

We have a few in our fleet, and they make a less than favorable impression

Somehow I got one for a commuter car, a 2014 manual. I drove it for a few months and a few thousand miles and realized that it was not built with quality in mind. Also, twice when in for warranty work, they gave me a loaner Focus with 20K miles and I could not put up with its rattling. It was so bad that I decided to take my other car to work and let the loaner sit in my driveway. I sold the car, obviously at a loss, but not much (mostly like a lease).

Starting to sound like owning a Focus is a non-starter. I was impressed by the rigidity of the body and the ride was good. Mileage was showing 36 mpg at 70+ mph. Neither of these rattled but it’s likely I wouldn’t have heard it over the tire/bearing roar.

Sometimes, rental cars get treated in ways that are hard to imagine…

+1 to @Caddyman, NOTHing hoons like a rental car!

For the price of a Focus you could get a Mazda3, which in IMO is a much better car:

Plus it’s rated at 41 MPG hwy, as good/better than Focus.

Just to add;

When I was cross shopping, the quotes for Mazda would be much higher than the Focus. Ford gives deep discounts, so you can get a Hatchback for $15.5K but the Mazda would set you back more.

On the handling, the Focus was hands down the best handling one I drove in the compact family. Just too bad that they can not figure other quality issues.

I had two different rental Foci and both had the rattling, mine started to head in that direction after 3-4K miles without any abuse. Still, mine could be a Monday boy or something.

Foci . . . why must you insist on using that terminology?

99.99999% of the world would say “I had two different rental Focuses”

But no . . .

I don’t “insist” on the terminology, but sometimes I have fun with it. In this case, I actually deleted it once but couldn’t decide which one looks uglier, so went back to “Foci”.

There are certain tests I have taken that agree with me being part of the 0.00001% of the population.

I might add that somewhere during my education they had to teach me some Latin, it is a necessity in my field.

Yes, they are noted for excellent handling. In Europe they have a good reputation, so I don’t know whether our Mexican-built cars are made with cheaper parts, or that the Europeans have lower standards for this kind of car. Doubt that. There it is considered a viable Golf competitor, but doesn’t seem so here. I really expected to like this car more, but in addition to some cheap-feeling interior bits and the poor reliability, it’s also a bit more cramped than its most direct competitors. We liked the old Mazda3 and the new one is nicer, but ended up with an Elaborate GT because it had slightly more room in the rear seat, was quieter, had a better sound system, nicer interior fittings, and more features for the price. It was nothing special to drive, but I believe this year it is getting upgraded to a direct-ignition engine with more power that is also more efficient. It’s generic, but we’ll executed.

In a snowy climate I’d consider an Impreza, but not in a warm climate. The Kia Forte is excellent value, but the interior is not very nice (even though it was just redesigned.) The Fit is a wonderful city car and perfect for the young as it is roomy and versatile, but not powerful to bring out boy racer tendencies. We might have bought one but we hated the dash design and thought long Highway trips might be fatiguing. The new one I have yet to see, but in pics the interior looks nicer. A very special car, the Fit, if it meets your need for inexpensive, versatile transportation. The Hyundai Accent is pretty good in the same size category, but lacks the trick seats.

There is no “One size fits all” car, just like there is no clothing like that. If a car is compact and agile and inexpensive, it’s just not going to be great on long distance rides. Finding the perfect compromise leads to a perfectly unremarkable car that sort of does what you want in a mediocre way, across the board.

I live near a major airport, in a metropolitan area, and for me a small, easy to park car with some storage space is vital. If I’m going to be driving far, like next week with a 900 mile 4 day round trip, I rent a car through Costco’s web site. I got a full size car (Ford Fusion) 4 days for $106. In my opinion that cost is nearly, if not fully, the cost to me of 900 miles of wear on my own car, and the rental is pretty new, fully fitted with stereo and bluetooth and all sorts of electronic trinkets, and it’s roomy and quiet. And on Monday I bring it back and get rid of it.

So, my conclusion is get a car that’s really right for your regular daily needs, and rent if you have a special situation. Owning an SUV with four wheel drive because you like to go skiing twice a year is just plain silly. Rent one. Owning a mini van because the whole family goes to Grandma’s three times a year? Same solution.

My brother has a 2010 Mazda 3, same platform as the Focus

Anyways . . . the car is low to the ground from the factory, has good pickup, has fat tires and rims, handles corners decently

The major drawback is that has a bone jarring ride. I would not to drive it more than 5 minutes

The current Focus and Mazda3 are not related in the way older ones were. Back when Ford controlled Mazda, they had Mazda develop their smaller cars, some, like the Focus, for the world, but others, like the Escape and Fusion, just for the US. Ford sold off their share of Mazda a few years ago and Mazda didn’t take it well. Now small Fords are developed in their European design Center where they already designed several lines. It seemed to make sense to bring it all in-house if they were going to make true world cars. So now Mazda is worn no on their SkyActiv technologies and designing handsome cars. In the long run they need partnerships or a buyout. With their ultra-high Cafe they could prove attractive to some luxury or sports car maker that will struggle to meet the target amounts. Most of them are already owned by big companies, but a few of the small ones, like McLaren, could have trouble. They don’t seem to lack money.