2000 Ford Focus What repairs are absolutely necessary?

Tiny
ELUSIVESK
  • MEMBER
  • 2000 FORD FOCUS
Engine Performance problem
2000 Ford Focus 4 cyl Automatic 124000 miles

I had my car checked for a battery problem in October, and also received a list of recommended services. I need to know which of these are absolutely required for safe operation (priority), and which would just be ideal if I was made of money. It'd also be great if any of you could weigh in on whether the estimates from this shop are appropriate or not.

Recommended Services (estimate):
Replace front brake with resurfacing - worn ($240).
Brake fluid flush - dirty ($95)
Cooling system service - dirty ($130)
Transmission service - fluid burnt ($195)
Replace coolant hoses - original ($530)
Engine mounts worn ($415)


Also, the car is having some recurring problems - any ideas for a solution are appreciated.

1) The car lights (all - dash, front, rear, check engine light) start to flicker every few months as if the connection to the battery is shaky. This problem is usually fixed after I've taken the car in for an oil change and inspection, but it always returns. It gets to the point of being dangerous, as the car lights will flicker as I'm driving, and the engine will rev on its own. At its worst, the lights go out and I hear a chime as I'm driving, then they all go back on. It's usually worse when idling, but can happen as I'm driving as well.

2) The car starts fine sometimes, but just about every other time, when I start the car, the engine seems to shake and sounds very rough for a period of time before it evens out.

3) When going 65 or 70, the car and steering wheel start to vibrate.

4) The engine seems to have lost what little power it had as a 4cyl. Going up steep hills has always been hard on it, but there's this one stretch I have to take frequently. It used to be I could keep it going about 35 up the hill, but now, unless I start out at a higher speed, the car drops to 5 or 10 up the hill. If I try to push it, the engine starts to misfire (check engine light flashes).

Thanks for any help!
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Thursday, April 23rd, 2009 AT 3:19 AM

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Tiny
RENAUDTN
  • MEMBER
Hello there,

There a lot going on here; I'm not sure where to start.
What's absolutely necessary from a safety stand point: your brakes. If you never replaced them in 9 years and 124,000 miles, it's way overdue. I can't really help on the estimate, but $240 for replacing all front and back brakes + the two discs in the front doesn't sound bad. You can find websites online that will give you an estimate of repair costs for your area; here is one: repairpal. Com.

As far as the other recommended services, they're all necessary but not vital from a safety standpoint (although. Engine mount). What I mean is if you don't do it your car WILL have expensive damage at some point in the (near) future but it doesn't compromise your safety:
- Cooling system service: if your coolant gets too old, it looses its capacity to soak the heat from the engine; as a result your engine can end up overheating. A dirty coolant lead to damage to your radiator, water pump, heater core Etc.
- Transmission service: if your fluid is burnt, your transmission is not protected. This will result in very expensive transmission repair, more likely a transmission replacement.
- Replace coolant hoses: if a hose collapses inside or starts leaking, it can result in your engine overheating. It's probably the least of your concern on this list. If you don't replace them now, make sure you check for leaks every now and then, and keep an eye on your temperature gauge.
- Engine mount worn: Worn mounts can result in noises, vibration, abnormal noises on acceleration and deceleration and severe linkage binding. In the worse possible case, the throttle linkage can be jammed, resulting in unintended acceleration (safety issue!). Obviously not fixing this can also result in very expensive damages.

It's up to you whether you want to fix it or not; however, not fixing these now will result in much more expensive damages later. Check the website I mentioned and call shops in your area; some of the quotes you have seem really high ($530 to replace the hoses.)

As far as your recurring problems, the first thing you need to do is to go to Autozone and have them to retrieve (scan) the trouble codes from your car; they do it for free. Once you have the codes, post back and we'll start from there.
Wild guess for now: you probably need a tune up at least (new plugs, wires, fuel and air filter, ect).
Good luck
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Thursday, April 23rd, 2009 AT 5:17 PM
Tiny
ELUSIVESK
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Thank you so much for the help and advice.

I would love nothing more than to go for a dependable car and trade in this one (though it's served me well for many years), but my significant other feels that I should drive it until it breaks down entirely. It's also not worth that much anyway, about 1700 according to kelly's blue book, especially with the mechanical problem, and it could last a few more months.

I do know what the trouble codes are - one is for lean emissions, and the other was for an engine misfire. The engine misfire occurred while I was driving up that hill, and I guess I was accelerating too much for the engine.

My plan now, because of the electrical problems I'm having, is to take it into a new shop. I stopped by the other day and they checked out the problem with the flickering lights, and said that it might be the alternator, but that would cost $472 to fix and they're not sure that's even the problem. I'll have them go over the car again when they do an oil change to see what problems they find and recommend repairing, then get a quote and check it out again. Do you mind if I run that by you when I have it?

At this point I just want to make sure that I'm not driving an unsafe car. Not dependable is okay since I have AAA.

Anyway, thank you again for your help, I really appreciate it!
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Saturday, April 25th, 2009 AT 5:50 AM
Tiny
RENAUDTN
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I understand the feeling; I drive a Focus too, and I'm planning to drive the wheels off of it before I get rid of it.
If you don't want to have a shop doing all these repairs, and if you or your significant other don't mind getting dirty, most of the work your car needs (except for the engine mounts) is not very complicated and doesn't require special tools.
You could do it pretty easily with a $5 used Haynes/Chilton manual. It could add a pretty good amount of time to the life of your car.
You could even replace the alternator yourself (it's pretty easy as well).
However, are you going to get the brakes done? Out of all the repairs, this is the one you don't want to skip. Maybe you can look in your local adds; sometimes mechanics post adds and offer to do small jobs, like the ones your car seems to need, for a good deal.

From what you're describing (engine rough at time, and lean condition) you may have a vacuum leak or maybe a problem in your fuel delivery system (like a clogged fuel filter). Whatever it is, it's most likely related to the misfire condition. Like I said in my previous post, you may just need a tune-up.

If you give me the exact codes (P030*, P0171/P0174?), I could give you more specific infos. As far as the estimates, I can't really tell you what a fair price is. It varies depending on your location, whether you go to a dealer or an independant shop, etc. I can tell you however that on average a shop will charge you anywhere from $75 to $120/hour to work on your car. That doesn't include parts.
Try this website: www. Repairpal. Com
It will give you the fair cost of a specific repair for your area.
If you want to run it by me however, that's fine. Don't hesitate if you have more questions.

Good luck.
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Monday, April 27th, 2009 AT 9:27 AM

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