Huge win for car owners! All TSBs to be made public. The Center for Auto Safety just made the NHTSA (US Government) make public the full text of all TSBs from now on. They are the same organization that has petitioned the NHTSA & filed lawsuits to protect car owners over exploding gas tanks & other major safety issues. Whenever you drive in your car, you are safer thanks in part to a lot of work over the years by this small but very effective consumer advocacy group.

Please take a moment & say thank you by donating $5 or whatever you can to the Center for Auto Safety. Notes: The 2002 Ford Focus 2.0L SOHC engine has a defect where the intake valve seat fails. The valve then falls into the cylinder, destroying the engine & most owner relationships with Ford in the process.


definitely annoying
Crashes / Fires:
0 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
41,152 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2002 Ford Focus engine problems

engine problem

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2002 Ford Focus Owner Comments (Page 1 of 2)

problem #31

Jul 192011


  • 113,000 miles


The contact owns a 2002 Ford Focus. The contact stated that whenever she would downshift or brake to a complete stop, the vehicle would stall without warning. The fuel filter, engine coil pack and spark plugs were replaced but to no avail. The contact experienced the failure at least three times. The manufacturer was contacted and advised that there were no recalls on the vehicle and referred the contact to the local dealer. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure mileage was 113,000.

- Vermilion, OH, USA

problem #30

Jan 232011

Focus 4-cyl

  • 89,000 miles
While driving, the spark plugs eject from the block. This is dangerous and can cause an engine fire. This problem has apparently been reported to Ford, but they claim nothing can be done until they receive a certain amount of complaints. This is not normal wear and tear. The spark plugs have been replaced four times along with the coil. This is unacceptable and inconvenient and Ford needs to remedy this issue everyone is having with their vehicles.

- Columbia, SC, USA

problem #29

Nov 142010

Focus 4-cyl

  • miles
Engine stalls when starting the car cold and when stopped at a long light. Have taken it to the dealer several times and was told that they cannot identify any problems. Problem has been present for last 6 years and is getting progressively worse. Have changed battery and fuel filter but problem remains.

- San Francisco, CA, USA

problem #28

Jan 302009


  • miles


Ford Focus 2002 would not start the ignition.

- Ottawa, 00, USA

problem #27

Jun 122008


  • 60,996 miles
A screw was dislodged from the engine, ricocheting through out the engine causing damage beyond repair. The engine ceased working without any preparation. The engine needed to be replaced completely.

- Austin, TX, USA

problem #26

Jun 152008


  • 105,000 miles
The car's check engine light came on and started stalling, had it checked and was told that the car was only running on 3 cylinders and was recommended to put an additive in the engine to try to loosen up stuck valves...a week after that the car, we were driving the car, parked it for about an hour and it wouldn't start. We finally got it started after a few minutes and it sounded like there were rocks in the engine. Had it towed and have not done anything with it because we cannot afford to spend $3000 to repair it and we still owe $5000 on it. We bought it used 3 1/2 years ago. We have found that Ford replaced the cylinder heads on these cars because of the problem but no recall was issued by Ford to prevent further engine damage. We understand that at this point the whole engine would need to be replaced because of damage to the pistons. The person who checked our car said that he had taken the cylinder head cover off and found a broken spark plug which suggests extensive engine damage.

- El Cajon, CA, USA

problem #25

Jun 112008


  • 85,282 miles


I was driving to work. I live 7 miles from work. At a stop light my car started shaking very bad and the engine shut down. It would not start again.. I had it towed to my brothers house and started researching the symptoms... everything I could find leads to engine failure, caused by a thrown rod or broken piston. After checking the compression in the cylinders # 1-3 no problems about 75 psi and #4 was 0. I believe that the #4 piston or rod is broken or otherwise rendered useless causing the complete engine failure. The vehicle has 85500 miles and has been maintained per the owners manual.

- Mountain Home, ID, USA

problem #24

Apr 072008

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 73,000 miles
Continual oil leakage from the lower engine block of a 2002 Ford Focus 5 door hatchback. This results from an engineering problem, per my Firestone service person. The right side cv axle mounting brackett is attached to the lower crankcase, and the axle torque has over the 73,000 miles we have driven the vehicle cracked the lower crank-case. When there is pressure on the engine, the crack opens and oil leaks. I have seen the crack with my own eyes. According to the technicians, if this is the case with this vehicle because of the engineering, there are probably other instances of the same thing happening.

- Charlotte, NC, USA

problem #23

Feb 202008

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 117,000 miles
1. two days before the engine died I noticed it was having problems starting first thing in the morning, like a sputtering. Then it would go away and the car would drive fine. The car had a transmission fluid leak and so I continued to make sure it was at the right levels. 2. the day when the engine died it had been running normally. I had stopped at the store. When I got back in my car and turned it on the engine made a popping noise and then the engine "turned over" and started making a thwaping noise, like cardboard in contact with a fan blade. After towing it to a mechanic (it wouldn't start, it kept making thud-ish thwaping noises), who had worked for Ford previously, he said that the 4th piston had broke and was grinding on the side of the engine block (he had taken a look at the timing belt - ok- and was testing the gears that the timing belt attached to. 3 turned with the right torque but the final one at the bottom of the engine block didn't turn unless torque greater than what was normally needed was applied. When it turned there was a thwap sound inside the engine). What made me wonder is he said that this always happened with this model on the single overhead cam engines at around 90 to 120 thousand miles. He said that he repaired numerous similar incidents with this type of engine, even guaranteeing that opening up the engine would show that the 4th piston (farthest on the right facing the front) broke. I hate to think what would have happened if I had gotten on the freeway and the piston had broke. 3. the cost to replace with a new oem engine was more than the value of the car if I were to personally sell it (based on kelly blue book) and so was the cost for a used engine ($1200 was the lowest, compared to the duel overhead cam engines for the Focus which I found used for $500. Seems the demand for that style engine is high). I have not repaired it. I am considering selling it to a scrap yard.

- Berkeley, CA, USA

problem #22

Jul 122006


  • Manual transmission
  • miles
2002 Ford Focus sedan manual transmission with 80,000 miles. With no warning the engine acts as if it is going to stall, vehicle hesitates, jerks and sputters. This literally causes the vehicle to jolt forwards and backwards and shakes the passengers inside the vehicle. This is a very scary event, especially at 70+ mph speed or when in traffic. Highly concerned that the vehicle is going to simple shut off while on interstate 95 which could be deadly. The Ford dealer where the vehicle was purchased and maintained has run a diagnostic test that showed no abnormalities. The following week the key would not turn and the vehicle had to be towed with ignition/steering repairs. The vehicle was re-examined while again in the shop and driven again by the service team and they were unable to provide a useful diagnosis of the engine hesitation problems. We need a resolution to this problem and it appears that no one can appropriately diagnose the problem.

- Richmond, VA, USA

problem #21

Jun 252006

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 47,000 miles


When turning on my 2002 Ford Focus ZX3, it tends to have a very rough idle, sputtering and stalling. I have replaced the fuel filter, spark plugs, spark cables, PCV valve and my ignition coil. But even after all of that my car still sputters, stalls and has a rough idle....I don't know what to do, being a college student out of my home state of Michigan. I have taken it to auto zone and had it hooked up to the code reader and the attendant said everything was fine... this is my last straw..

- Savannah, GA, USA

problem #20

Apr 022006


  • 35,000 miles
At vehicle start up, my wife heard a loud pop, followed by engine sputtering, and smell of gas fumes. My wife took the kids out of the car and ran away for fear of fire. The following day, we had it towed to the dealership. The dealership told me a spark plug blew out of the engine and striped the engine block. I called Ford Motor Corp. They said they could not help me with the repairs, since my vehicles warranty just exspired. The car only has 35,000 mile on it, and has had other major electrical problems at 25,000 miles. Now I am paying for a car that doesn't even run, I guess I should have known better than to buy a Ford. Ford has lost a customer forever.

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #19

Dec 242005

Focus 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 60,000 miles
Engine stalls repeatedly while driving at all speeds. Often the car will not start after stall. Vehicle is still under extended warranty and has been serviced four times, none of which have fixed the problem.

- Longmont, CO, USA

problem #18

Nov 202005

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 20,385 miles
Engine accelerated at a high speed while shifting from forward to reverse (and vice versa). To overcome the problem I maintained heavy pressure on the brake and tapped the accelerator.

- Sanford, FL, USA

problem #17

Jun 232005

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 89,000 miles
The day was very hot, 90+ degrees. I had the air conditioning on while driving and had to take my husband to a dentist appointment. I left the car running with the air conditioning on for about 10 minutes, then shut the car off. After another 5 minutes, I restarted the car, with air conditoning on and waited for my husband to return. The car was running for a total of about 25 mintues while parked. My husband returned and we proceded to go over to the other side of town to get some dinner. It was 4:30 pm at this time. On our way, the car started to 'jerk' forward and backward and I had no acceleration at all. I stepped on the gas and absolutely nothing happened. I managed to get over to the side of the road when the engine just died. I tried to start it several times to no avail. We waited several minutes and I was able to restart the car. We drove on, with the air conditioner on for about 6 more miles when the same thing happened. I managed to get off the road, but not before the engine died. My husband called a local Ford dealership and told them what had happened and we were told it sounded like the fuel pump might need replacing. We had the car towed to a local Ford dealership, not the one we had called, and were told they would get to it that night yet. They called us at 8:30 pm and had not gotten around to doing the diagnostics as yet. They called back within 30 minutes and told us that the fuel pump will probably need replacing, but they will call us as soon as they knew for sure. At 11:30 pm, they called to say that the diagnostics had shown nothing and they could not replicate the problem. They had no idea what the cause may have been and were shocked that such a thing could even happen to such a new car. There was nothing they could do. We picked the car up this morning and are praying to god that we can get home this evening without the problem happening again.

- Portage, WI, USA

problem #16

May 272005

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 76,640 miles
Focus 2002 started to run rough around 40,000 miles. Had a major tune up 2 X's in 6 months. Changed all the plugs, wires, oil & fluids, still handled rough like it needed to be timed. Focus's have no timing belt. I took it in & was told the plug wire ran over the block was the causing the rough idl, due to the cable melting on the block. I replaced the cable & again the idle was still rough, but now started to surge & miss also. Driving @ various speeds, conditions & roads & still it would surge & miss fire & then drive on. Took it in & told with no light showing & unless it could repeat the surge/miss nothing it could be done. Less than a month later the batter died on a trip out of town. Checked the battery & full of corriosion. Bought a new battery & checked the electrical system told nothing wrong again. After a year of surging/missing (at least 1 a week) the car died again & we thought it was the battery. The battery tested & was told it is the alterator, bought a new one. We then did an oil change. We took it in & ask them agian about the surging & miss & asked if it could be checked when they did the oil. Was advised that it could be the fuel injectors but with out the check engine or oil light on that there was no way to know for sure. Two days later was driving on the freeway & all the lights on the dash light up, felt like there was no power when the gas pedal was pressed, at that point exited the freeway, almost got to the exit & the whole car stalled out, walk home about 4-5 miles. Back over to jumped it, it started up with a new clackety clack in the motor, did not drive at all, I towed it back to the mechanics who did the oil & tested it. I was told on Friday 5/27 that they think it might be a vualve or a engine tap. Please help

- Phoenix, AZ, USA

problem #15

Mar 202005

Focus 4-cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 53,000 miles
While driving 65 mph vehicle stalled. A recall was issued, however this vehicle's year was not included.

- Orange Park, FL, USA

problem #14

Jan 182005


  • Automatic transmission
  • 55,800 miles
I drive a 2002 Ford Focus LX. I has appoximatley 56,000 miles. I had brought my car to the dealership to have body work done on the fender. I was told the the repairs were complete, and I left with my car. I was driving down the highway, going fifty five mph, when the engine light came on and the engine just stoped. After we coasted to the shoulder, we push-stared the car and drove directly back to the dealership, who told me that the catalytic converter, and fuel injector lines were broken. This occurs immediatley after I had body work done at the dealership. In fact, it was the same hour of the same day I left !!

- District Heights , MD, USA

problem #13

Apr 052004

Focus 4-cyl

  • Manual transmission
  • 15,400 miles
Engine just dies with no warning while on the highway, after engine dies I lose power steering, and wheel will not turn. I am able to restart the car while still in motion. This is the third time this has happened.

- Fort Worth, TX, USA

problem #12

Mar 012004


  • Manual transmission
  • 60,000 miles
While driving on thruway engine quit, and car was on fire. Courtesy Ford checked car and found piston went through block causing oil to catch fire under car and melting fuel lines. Vehicle has 60K and has been serviced regularly. Quoted over $6000 and was told warranty ended at 36K. This incident could have been very serious.

- Constantia, NY, USA

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