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.


really awful
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
109,998 miles
Total Complaints:
58 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. had to replace the engine (25 reports)
  2. not sure (18 reports)
  3. rebuilt engine (7 reports)
  4. sell it to a junkyard (3 reports)
  5. donate to a high school vica club to repair and auction (2 reports)
  6. replace engine (2 reports)
2002 Ford Focus engine problems

engine problem

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2002 Ford Focus Owner Comments (Page 3 of 3)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #18

Jun 032009


  • Automatic transmission
  • 99,000 miles


The reality is that the car had 127,000 miles on it, but this site won't allow me to write that in. Took incredibly good care of the car. Spent big money repairing and maintaining. Never drove it hard. Piston broke in engine, the mechanic believes because spring failed above it in engine. Was just traveling about 20 MPH in slow traffic when it happened. Had to push car off highway and await tow truck. Too pricey to fix. Bought 2008 KIA Spectra. I am very dubious about buying another Ford. Won't buy GM or Chrysler as long as they are owned by the Feds. Hopefully South Korea won't get invaded by North Korea and my KIA won't have the problems I've had with Ford.

- , Jackson, NJ, USA

problem #17

Aug 132008

Focus SE 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 87,650 miles

well i drove to the store and my car was running fine. i bought me a pack of smokes and came back out got in the car tried to start it up ,it was acting like it was not getting any fuel so i gave it a lil more gas and then pow nothing i looked under the car and oil was pouring out i popped the hood and it turns out the engine threw a rod out the side of the CRAPPY aluminum block.

- , Stillwater, OK, USA

problem #16

Mar 172009

Focus LX 2.0L Sohc

  • Automatic transmission
  • 105,000 miles

Car was running fine until I stopped at a store. When I tried to restart, the engine started knocking very bad (worse than a diesel) and kept stalling. I managed to get it to a garage for diagnostics. I was getting no compression on cyl 3. Upon removing valve cover and head I found that the intake valve seat had come out and was banging around in cyl 3 and eventually made it into all 4 cyl, the intake manifold, oil pan, etc... Two of the pistons were destroyed and one connecting rod was bent. I had to replace the head with a rebuilt head, all 4 pistons and 1 connecting rod. I had 3 different machine shops tell me that they have seen this is a common problem with the Focus. Way to go Ford.

- , Woodstock, GA, USA

problem #15

Jul 222008


  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles


A very well maintained car. Periodic preventative maintenance done religiously....oil changes, tuneups, new fluids etc. Driving down the road and inside of two hours the engine died. First it started jerking and could not maintain the idle. Put in a fuel additive and that seemed to help for about 30 minutes. Then the car went into the "I am not gonna turn over no matter how many times you turn the key or hold it there". Had the car towed to the mechanic...the same who always did the preventative maintenance ...and he reported, after extensive searching, that the PISTON had cracked. Since there was no scaring of the cylinder, he went ahead and replaced all the pistons and made the car drivable again. That cost me $3500 but felt that since the car was very well maintained, otherwise, the rebuilt engine was like putting a new engine in and we both anticipate a relatively smooth and long life of the car now. We shall see. Mechanic Mike said he had never heard of or seen a piston crack/break like the one in the 2002 Focus engine.

- , Dunedin, FL, USA

problem #14

Mar 112008

Focus SE 2.0

  • Automatic transmission
  • 62,500 miles

Same here on the engine problem. I go to school two hours away from home; when I got to the city and stopped for a moment, then turned the car on only to hear a ghastly noise coming from the engine. I tried to drive it (fortunately I was in a parking lot) and it lurched forward then quit; white smoke came from the exhaust. Called the CAA and had it towed to the dealership; they advised it was the valve seat had collapsed and the #4 piston had damaged the engine. Had it towed back home to my local garage and my wonderful mechanic there located another engine three provinces away and had it shipped here. Total cost $2300.00. If I could have afforded the monthly payments, I would have bought a new car. I will NEVER buy another Ford. I didn't even bother contacting them, because I figured they would just blow it off by saying the car was seven years old and had over 100,000 km. Why doesn't Ford just recall all these problems, develop trust and integrity and a relationship with their car owners and maybe they would develop a loyal following?

- , Alberton, PEI, Canada

problem #13

Mar 112009

Focus LX

  • Automatic transmission
  • 110,000 miles

I financed a 2002 ford focus LX w/out a warranty and it broke down 30 days later. I put $2000 down and I pay $300 a month. The car was about $8500 before my down payment. I will be paying the car off until around 8/2010. I was picking my two kids up from school with my 2 year old in the back seat and the engine shook and cut off while in park and would not start back heart dropped. I was in someone's driveway and had no phone. luckily it happened in front of their school where I could called someone who had to push my car onto the street. When the car broke down I called the dealership & told them what happened and they immediately asked me if my TIMING BELT BROKE and told me to have it towed to their mechanic. I took it to my mechanic instead. When the tow truck arrived the driver asked me to start my car and told me It sounds like my TIMING BELT BROKE or its something fuel related." WOW HOW IRONIC. Its clear that the dealership knew about this problem b4 they sold the car to me. They saw me as easy bait. Something seemed kinda fishy about that dealership. My car was towed to my mechanic who has not yet had a chance to look at it. It has been there since 3/11/09 and I am getting kinda impatient. I work in a different city from where I live. before I had a car It took SIX buses to get to work and It took eight buses when I had to drop my youngest off at his dad's. I HOPE I DO NOT HAVE TO GO BACK TO THAT. I hope that the car is having a different (and less expensive) problem than what has been brought to my attention. I called the dealership back and they told me since i bought the car "as is" there is nothing they could do but i could have it towed to their mechanic anyway. WHAT....I JUST BOUGHT THIS CAR FROM YOU 30 DAYS AGO....I STILL HAVE MY TAGS IN THE WINDOW. I don't really know what my next steps are...YET.

- , Cleveland, OH, USA

problem #12

Feb 062009

Focus SE 2.O 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles


I bought my 02 Focus in Aug. of 08. I've only put 6000 miles on it and now it's sitting at a Ford dealership having tthe engine torn down ($800) to see what caused the "failure" I had purchased a warranty from the selling dealership but there is no guarantee that they are going to cover this. I'm waiting on the warranty inspector to make his decision. If they don't cover then I'm not only out $800 but I will be without a car because I know I won't be able to pay for the repairs. Plus I will be stuck paying payments on the loan I took out to buy the car! Since this happened I found out that my nephew had the same thing happen to his Ford Escort with the same motor (valve seat). Apparently this is a common complaint with that motor.

Update from Oct 1, 2011: Well here I am again! Complaint # 12 with an update. Ended up the warranty inspector said they wouldn't cover the damage as the valve seats aren't an "internally lubricated" part of the motor. What a load of crap! So,my dad purchased a FORD factory rebuilt motor and it was installed at a FORD dealership in March of 09. Got a 1 year 12,000 mile warranty with that. Now 29,000 miles later the car is growing spider webs in the street! Same sh*t different year! So, today I have to go out and try to find a car I can afford so I don't have to keep asking family for rides to work. Probably could have bought a pretty decent chevy for what we paid for 29,000 miles in that piece of crap Focus. I am convinced that Ford and their mechanics knew about this defect long ago but did nothing. They are all a bunch of thieves as far as I'm concerned.

- , Rio Linda, CA, USA

problem #11

Aug 112008

Focus ZX3 2.0L

  • Manual transmission
  • 85,000 miles

I was driving to work like every other person. It was a normal day not to hot not to cold. when i hit a red light less then a mile away. Car idled fine no problems at all, but as soon as i started to go it wouldn't. engine started to jump and i thought my transmission had a problem but being a manual i could control it. well in order to even get my car to go i had to keep my rpm's up around 5 grand. let me tell you, it was hard to do and not a good sound. got to work shut the car off and called the shop. wasn't sure what it was but they wanted me to drive it in. well i have a computer at work so i plugged it in and read my codes car said it was throwing five different codes. Fuel rail malfunction, Fuel rail error, pedal position error, Cam shaft position and O2 sensor. Let me tell you I am not the safest driver i have gone off roading and i have gone to the race track. so i figured that i broke something. wrong to find out the sensors on the engine all go back to one main harness and well the harness just came lose and through my engine for a spin.

- , Batavia, NY, USA

problem #10

Jun 202008

Focus ZX3

  • Manual transmission
  • 25,500 miles

Drove 8 blocks to run an errand, parked car while I went into store. I restarted car and drove about 1 mile. While in traffic, had to stop suddenly (no brake lights on car ahead of me). Engine did not kill, but when I resumed driving, immediately my car lurched, the yellow exclamation point light came on and I had trouble rev-ing up again to get moving. Had to use the clutch ALOT to keep moving at all. Engine killed several times before I could get to side of road. After many lurching attempts, made it 4 blocks to nearest garage. They had car for rest of afternoon and overnight but couldn't diagnose the problem. Car is not drivable as it stalls out in 1st gear, but strangely does not stall out in reverse. Garage recommends having car sent to Ford dealership, which will happen tomorrow. What's this all about???

- , Denver, CO, USA

problem #9

Jun 112008

Focus LX 2.0L 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,500 miles

I was driving to work like 95% of America. I work 7 miles from home right now. I was stopped at a stop light waiting for the super cool - go fast green light to come up as I was almost late for work. While sitting at the stoplight my car started shaking, it felt like there was a very large kid behind me kicking my seat repeatedly, and hard. Then the engine shuts down. I figure, 'no problem, I will wait a sec start it back up and take it to a shop'. It doesn't start a again, when I tried it sounded like I was trying to start a diesel motor with no oil, no glow plugs, and it was labored intensely as well. Then the light turns green... luckily I was pointed downhill, so I put it in neutral and coasted through the intersection and on to the the median. After that I called my boss and AAA. I had the car towed to my house. While researching the symptoms I got to this site. I heard of several other people having issues with the 02 Focus. Most cases of engine failure seemed to be do to pistons breaking, or rods being thrown, which I found odd, especially at relative little miles, but my brother suggest I check the compression in the cylinders. I did and I found that the number 4 cylinder has no compression while the other 3 rannge from 70-77 psi. That being the case, Only a few things can cause that, Piston, Rod, and Valves; all of which I cannot afford to fix. So after that I made the decision to never purchase a Ford vehicle again and stick with vehicles that go further than 85000 miles until they die....... In fact I still have a beater Oldsmobile that has more than 270,000 miles and a Buick with just under 100,000. There is no reason to expect any one to use a vehicle for onl,y 85000 miles then have it break. I have heard of planned obsolescence dut dang Ford, maybe give me 150,000 miles before you try to dig into my pockets for another car. Thanks for reading the post... I hope FoMoCo gets there hands on this too. Before I donate the car I am going to be calling writing and complaining to them as well to see what they will do for me.

just as an aside..... This is not the first issue with the car. About 3 years ago "something is wrong with the torque converter" said dealer maintanence man. They fixed it free of charge because it was Ford's fault. Now the engine fails. like I said before, I wont be buying another Ford.

- , Mountain Home, ID, USA

problem #8

Feb 202008

Focus 2.0L Sohc

  • Automatic transmission
  • 117,000 miles


Engine had a hard time starting two days prior. On the day it broke I parked to run an errand. When I got back and turned the engine over it made a sound like some one stuck a stick in spokes of a bike. When I had it looked at by a mechanic he said something broke inside the engine and was blocking the pistons. I took it to another mechanic for another opinion and he used to work for Ford as a mechanic. He said that the Single Over Head Cam engines were poorly designed and that he guarnteed me that the piston on the right had shattered. He said that was the one they always worked on. To get a new engine from ford was more than the car is worth in perfect condition on Kelly Blue Book. To find a used engine cost $1200 at the cheapest (on ebay) as opposed to Duel over head cam engines in the focus which cost $500 used. Evidently there is a lot of demand for that particular engine. I thought I would go online to see if this was headed to a class action lawsuit (I just want a running car) before I scrap the vehicle for $500.

- , Berkeley, CA, USA

problem #7

Mar 122008

Focus SE 2L Sohc

  • Automatic transmission
  • 103,148 miles

Never again will I buy another Ford. It started chugging for 2 weeks. I took it into a Ford Dealership in Ontario and their diagnostic tests came up with nothing. I paid $100 for this test, only to be sent home. Two days later, the car started chugging, then rattling, then died on the spot. I had it towed to another Ford Dealership, after several diagnostics they said they thought it was a timing belt issue. Then they looked in the engine and the piston had smushed some parts inside and now I needed a whole new engine. Getting a used engine with no warranty cost $2600 to fix. I passed on getting the refurbished new engine, that would have set me back $5000. All in all, I have no sympathy that Ford stocks are going down because if they made better cars, the public would support buying their cars. Since they put out crappy cars, it's no wonder people won't buy them, not only will I NEVER buy another Ford, I have told all my friends and family NEVER to buy a Ford.

- , Markham, Ontario, Canada

problem #6

Dec 062007


  • Automatic transmission
  • 111,000 miles

I bought the car from a private party in the last week of August, it died the first week of December. I'm a highschool student who saved up many, many years for the car and paid $4,500 cash for it. Now the dealer wants $3000 more because the engine died. It had been rattling periodically for short periods of time, but I didn't want to take it in because I couldn't afford it... who knows if that would have helped or not, but I'm pretty sure at that point it was gone. The mechanics told me 2 valves were broken and many more on the way, along with some other problems and I needed a totally new engine. This car is cute, but TOTALLY not worth $7500. I havn't been able to pay for the repairs, or buy a new car, so right not I'm careless... sounds like the Ford Focus' (or is it Foci???) just SUCK.

- , Flagstaff, AZ, USA

problem #5

Feb 142008

Focus ZX3

  • Manual transmission
  • 45,000 miles

It began with the "auto transaxle light (exclamation point)" going on, then the car jerking while at high speeds. Then, the light would come on and the car killed. I brought it in, and was told that nothing was wrong. It didn't happen for two weeks, then it happened again. I see from other complaints that this happens with the Ford Focus, but I don't know what to tell the mechanic to look for, as he said my car runs "great."

- , Metairie, LA, USA

problem #4

Sep 012007

Focus LX 3.2L 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 35,000 miles

DO NOT BUY THIS CAR!!! I actually bought a 2001 with a blown engine and replaced the engine, myself, with a 2002 that only had 35,000 miles. About a month later it would start stalling while I was driving. I would give it gas and the idle would just drop to zero and turn off. Now it happens all the time!!!! I have to pull over, stop, turn off the car, wait a couple of minutes and try again. Just to get a few miles down the road and it does it again!!! I've researched the problem both trouble shooting my own car and using the internet. My OBD2 reader tells me cylinder 4 misfire! Unfortunately so does the internet. Even worse it seems to lead to total engine failure!!! I bought this cheap car so I could go back to school. Now its just a waste of money and time. Two things I do not have! I'm going to see if Ford can lend a hand, but I'm not rich or important so. . .

- , Lafayette, LA, USA

problem #3

Dec 252007

Focus SE 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 111,000 miles

Car has been making a rattling noise for quite some time and no one could figure it out until it died Christmas night. Thought the rattling had something to do with the catalytic converter cuz when it died it was making this horrible noise coming from the engine/converter area. Something I guess "fell off the head" and there was a bunch of metal inside the piston that had obviously broken or shattered. Replaced engine with an '03 that cost $1400 and $650 for the labor and $59 for a motor mount that was just replaced a year ago!!!

- , Houston, TX, USA

problem #2

Dec 042007

Focus SE 2.0L 122 Sohc

  • Automatic transmission
  • 129,000 miles

click to see larger images

engine failure engine failure

valve seat broke, caused total engine lose. cheaper to replace engine than fix. this happened while letting car warming up in morning. this car has so many problems i would stay away from this car. cheap on gas but breaks often and parts are $$$

- , Akron, OH, USA

problem #1

Sep 042007

Focus LX

  • Automatic transmission
  • 57,000 miles

Beware Focus LX buyers or existing drivers experiencing this problem: it began as an intermittent issue immediately upon starting the engine. It would act "chuggy" like the idle was really low or like the engine wasn't getting enough fuel and was on the brink of stalling. Then after 30-60 seconds the problem would go away and the engine would run fine. Giving the engine gas while this was taking place would only make matters worse. Ultimately my engine completely died at a stop light a few weeks after the problem began. No cause for the engine failure could be ascertained by two different professional private mechanics. $700 later to take the engine apart, it was determined that a piston and cylinder were destroyed and the engine was unrepairable.

I am still debating what to do. I am a poor student. I cannot afford a new engine. Not likely Ford will help, but I will try to contact them. There is no excuse for an engine well cared for with 57,000 miles should have a failure of this type. All fluid levels were normal with no leaks at any point in time with regular oil changes.

My mother also has a 2002 Ford Focus ZTX and she began having maintenance issues as well around 60,000 miles.

- , Salt Lake City, UT, USA

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