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Urgent. buying used car, I can't locate 1 question

I am trying to buy a used Ford Focus 2004

XZ5 hatchback,but I need to know if it is a single or dual cam,I have asked the Ford

service dept and they can’t tell me

I do know it is a 2.3 cy,four valve PZEV

engine…62k miles for $6,000.00 & I don’t know a thing about cars…please help me I have had a bad experience in buying a new car so I am really need help on a used car

Sassysam, I’m wondering why the single or dual cam is an issue for you if you do not know anything about cars. If I were you I would be checking into the maintenance history of the car. If you are getting it from a dealer what kind of warranty is being provided. See if you can find out why the car is being sold. Spend $100 or so and get an independent mechanic-not someone who has an interest in selling the car- to look the car over for you, it will be money well spent.

Yep, this is just about the least important thing to worry about. If it’s a 4 valve/cylinder engine (16 total), it likely has 2 cams, but some have 1, no matter either way.

The 2.3 is a dual cam engine.

Why the urgency? Why the question?

Not being flippant, just wondering…

I am sorry,maybe I was not clear…my bosses mechanic asked me to find out because he said if it is 1 cam,don’t bother.
This car is clean,I have seen all the paperwork and drove it but since I do not know much about cars I can’t afford to waste my $$$.
The car is being sold because it belonged to Mike’s mother who just stopped driving becasue of her age.They bought it from the dealer with 15,000 miles as a demo car and she has averaged 9,000 miles a year since.He has all the paperwork and matinence records,my concern is that if something does happen the parts will be available and I do plan on taking it to a mechanic…I have further research through Motortrend and it seems to be a good but I do know from reading about Ford Focus that they switched motors from Zytec to Duratec which was allowed in Cal. I am doing my research gentleman but was just trying to ask your opinion on whether I will still have life left in this car for a couple of more years? Any imput on this make or model would be greatly appreciated.

No need to apologize, we were just confused. Number of cams is not the real issue, maybe the mechanic thinks the Ford engine that happens to have 2 cams is the better engine.

The car could be fine. You need to check the maintenance records to make sure it had oil changes done regularly and that other required maintenance was done, such as the timing belt, if needed. To do this you’ll also need to look at the recommended maintenance schedule. Then you need to have a mechanic check it over to see what might need fixing.

It has only 62,000 miles - if it checks out, it will have a number of years of life. Just know that cars of this age will always need repairs.

Ask your mechanic why s/he said not to bother if its not a DOHC. Some people are just quirky about their opinions.

There may be one difference that s/he has in mind. A DOHC is normally 4 valves per cylinder while a SOHC is normally 2 valves per cylinder. You mentioned “four valve” in your initial post. No car has only 4 valves. That engine is a 4 cylinder. It will have ether 8 valves (4cyl X 2 valves each) or 16 valves (4cyl X 4 valves). So if you meant 4 valves per cylinder than it almost has to be a dual cam. One cam driving each half of the valves.

The difference will actually be quite noticeable. A 4 cylinder / 16 valve engine will feel very fast and powerful / peppy in comparison to a 4 cylinder / 8 valve engine.

Have you popped the hood? Dual cam engines often just have a big “DOHC” emblazoned on the top somewhere. As near as I can tell all of the 2.3L were 16 valve - and that almost has to mean dual cam.

I was told a single cam has less power,I am picking up the car today to take it to a mechanic for a inspection,I really appreciate your help,but I was really burned by lexus of Serramonte when I went in to buy my brand new car,I was very green and I thought they would be different than other dealerships,they ended up getting me to add on all these items which I didn’t need by double teaming me and I put alot of $$$ down,& then I was very unhappy with the car,so they talked me into trading it back in which I was upside down by this time and lease,but never told me the maintence cost on this particular vechicle,so needless to say I have learned a very hard lesson and I just don’t want car payments right now,just a car I can put my bike in and go.
This is the 1st time I have used CarTalk but I love to listen to the guys on Saturday.Thank you very much for your imput,it has been helpful…
By the way how do you know so much about cars?

Sorry you got burned, sounds like typical dealer shenanigans. Next time go with a friend/acquaintance that knows the car buying routine, and say no to everything the saleman or deal closer pushes.

You can find out about our backgrounds here:

Cars have been my hobby for 40 years…

Don’t get coaught up in technical jargon. There’s an enormous amout of design that all interacts to determine an engine’s ability to fill its cylinders and purge its exhaust. The number of cams is only one factor. Typicaly a dual cam will allow the designers to better angle the valves and perhaps more effectively use four valves instead of three, but the variable valve timing system, the size and shape of the ports, the compression, the ability of the engine to breath in as determined by the port design, the manifold design, the use of a turbo or supercharger, and a hole bunch of other stuff all matter. Whether that transmits to power in the engine also is affected by stroke length, cylinder displacement, injector capacity, power drains on the crank (hydraulic or electric power steering?), and a number of other factors.

Whether that all means that the car will accelerate faster, be smoother on the highway, or whatever involves also the entire drivetrain.

Ignore the technical stuff. Drive the car and if you like the way it feels get it checked out by a reputable independent shop. Leave the technical stuff for guys like us with limited social outlets to argue about.

The service department cant tell you? You might want to shop elsewhere

Saying a single cam has less power is like saying a V8 is more powerful than a V6. Yeah, sometimes that’s true, but in both cases it’s more dependent on the engine design than the number of parts. One of the guys in my car club has a single cam 4 cylinder CRX that can keep up with V8 Corvettes, because of what he’s done to the motor.

One thing you can say that’s pretty much universally true is that single cam engines are cheaper from a maintenance perspective.