Lately, I've been in a period of pure aggrivation and frustration towards my car. I have the great misfortune of owning a 2002 Ford Focus. In November, the transmission ate some gears and the engine developed a mystery oil leak. Unfortunately, it took the dealer three weeks to get this resolved. In December, the car was the victim of a 40 something woman in a BMW X5. (The BMW won) At the time, I was disappointed that my car wasn't totalled. Today, after getting out of a doctor's appointment, the ignition lock refused to budge. No matter what I did, I couldn't get the key to work. I tried my other key, no dice. Fortunately, since my car is covered under the 100k mile powertrain warranty (the let's throw in roadside assistance and cover as little as possible, but make it sound like the car might not fall apart before it's paid off warranty), Ford covered the tow to my local dealer. Unfortunately, despite the fact that one would assume that being able to start the car would be considered part of the powertrain, Ford doesn't see it this way. The bill from the dealer for the repair - $400. Assuming the clicking and clunking noises that the car makes while in motion, it's a safe bet that it'll probably fall apart before it's paid off. Keep in mind that the car has been serviced and maintained according to manufacturer recommendations, and only by dealers. The car also has all of 59k miles on it as of this morning.
All I can say at this point is this - If you're considering buying a new car, buy a Honda. One, chances are good that it'll actually have been made in the U.S. (my focus was made in mexico), and it seems to have a reputation of lasting. After doing some googling, my issues have been common with the car. They are listed below.
- brakes - rotors tend to go quickly
- tires - a focus that can keep its alignment is a rare one, all of the others eat tires at an ungodly rate
- manual transaxle - despite the mtx75 transaxle being around since the early '90s, cost cutting measures during the 02 model year equalled syncros that self destruct on a regular basis - for me - every 20-25k miles
- slave cylinder - leaks, has pressure issues, eats the clutch, despite this, ford still insists that the clutch be paid for by the car's owner as it's a wear item, makes a whooshing sound when clutch pedal is depressed
- ignition switch - a common issue according to google, and the tow operator. He said that I was the third focus owner today with a nonfunctional ignition switch. Way to go Ford!
- Buttons and switches - also seem to break at an alarming rate, apparently 55k miles is expecting too much. It's a good thing I got the cheapo base model - fewer of these to break. (the trunk release button doesn't work anymore)
At this point, the car has depreciated rapidly (Thanks Ford and GM for your "Let's sell new cars for discounted prices instead of making them good" approach) to the point that trading it in is not viable. I've come to the conclusion that I'm gonna ride this one out and buy a Honda when it's paid off. I've got just shy of three years left on the loan. Hopefully the car will last that long. Chances are that it'll be sitting in my backyard for the last few months to a year of the loan due to it reaching the point where fixing it just isn't viable.