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:
110,000 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 1 of 3)

problem #58

May 252016

Focus SE 2.0L Sohc

  • Manual transmission
  • 145,000 miles


Yet another case of the 2.0L SOHC split port engine in a 2002 Focus dropping an intake valve seat. For mine it was the #1 cylinder that dropped the seat.

I'm doing the rebuild myself because I cannot afford to have someone else do it or replace the engine or car. I'm about a month into it and using some very helpful YouTube videos (because it is such a common problem that two different people videoed their rebuild job). Head was trashed, #1 piston was beat up on top and actually shattered below the wrist pin, leaving pieces of the piston in the oil pan.

Starting reassembly and discovered the #1 rod doesn't quite line up right with the crank shaft, so it appears the rod was bent slightly. Now I need to see if that can be fixed or needs to be replaced. Connecting rods don't appear quite as easy to come by as rebuilt heads and rebuild kits, so we'll see. Hopefully the final damage will be about $400 plus all my labor.

- Jim R., Colorado Springs, CO, USA

problem #57

Jun 112015

Focus SE Split Port Sohc

  • Manual transmission
  • 163,000 miles

So I fixed my ignition module problem listed in another complaint and all the cylinders were firing and the check engine light turned off by itself. But then a clicking sound starting coming from the head as the engine was running. This went on for a couple of weeks. Starting from the beginning, - I bought the car in Feb 2014 for a really low sales price, which might have been and turned out to be a red flag.

I then went online to and found out all about the engine failures of the valves falling into the #3 and #4 cylinder for the split port engine Fords. Also I saw a video about this on youtube. I also had heard about this sometime before I owned the car at a used car lot I visited in which there was an engine failure for a Ford Focus that they had sold under a warranty. But I was reassured by those I knew well that this was all hype, so to speak. Nevertheless I knew something was going to eventually happen, with too many independent sources saying the same thing.

Well, the car ran for 35,000 miles and 16 months and at 163,000 miles, right after I dropped off a friend for work, I heard a crashing sound like a jack hammer (not that loud, however) coming from under the hood as I was driving away. I shut the engine off ( I think or it may have died), I then tried to restart it with the sound of the jack hammer recurring being followed by horrendous scraping sounds from under the hood. I turned off the engine, coast to the side of the road, called a tow truck, and towed it home. Not worth it to fix, local shops quote 3 to 4 thousand, more than twice what I paid for the car.

Ford really needs to address this issue, because otherwise it was a very good little car.

- xela, Pa, CA, USA

problem #56

Feb 012015

Focus SE 2.0L Spi Sohc

  • Automatic transmission
  • 145,000 miles

click to see larger images

engine failure engine failure engine failure

Absolutely ridiculous Ford, truly sad and it will never happen again. I just purchased a brand new Toyota while I'm rebuilding this engine using a head with aftermarket valves. I've purchased Fords since I got this car, but after this disaster, I will not have another. I was told the valve seats would drop in this car, of course I denied it, no way this could happen to my car. I babied my 2002 Focus. It was my daily driver but I ran high quality synthetic oil always, changed every 5000 miles even with synthetic, tuned and overall maintained better than most. The gas pedal was never put to the floor the entire time I owned the car.

Unfortunately, even meticulous care and maintenance cannot prevent disasters caused by poor quality and design. At 145,000 miles, more than most make it, I heard a horrible rattle in the engine after the check engine light lit up. I immediately coasted to a nearby parking lot and had it towed home. After a few videos hearing the same problem, I knew it was the notorious valve seat dropping issue. Pulled the head and sure enough, the intake valve for cylinder 4 had dropped.

The head is toast, piston 4 is toast. If I wouldn't have immediately cut the car off, it would have ruined the others pistons and cylinder walls. This happens to some people as early as 80,000 miles. If I wasn't doing this myself, it wouldn't be worth the cost to get it fixed. This should have been recalled years ago. Go to hell Ford.

- dirtrider, Charlotte, NC, USA

problem #55

May 012014

Focus SE 2.0L, Sohc, Vin P

  • Automatic transmission
  • 186,000 miles


The valve seats failed, dropped into the engine and destroyed it. This is a common problem with this engine. I'm very disappointed that Ford never stepped up to the plate with this problem and recalled the car to correct this very serious engine problem.

- motorist, Binghamton, NY, US

problem #54

Jan 082014

Focus SE 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,000 miles

Not really a complaint. Just want to say I have made a living so to speak fixing these cars. the ones that the valve seat falls out of and ruins the motor. I have bought and sold 8 focuses in the last 2 years. Purchase price usually around 750 and selling price around 3000 - all have sold in less than a weeks time. I know exactly how to repair the engine problem that occurs with them. I use a combo of used and new parts and don't spend more than a few hundred dollars on parts. most of the repair is labor - probably about 20 to 25 hours on engine work then about the same sometimes on body and other restorations needed. My cars are close to looking like new when I sell them, with no mechanical problems. which is why they sell so quickly. This engine problem I estimate happens to prob about 1 out of 10 Focuses. Other than this freak ocurrance they are very good little cars. I have seem some go over 200,000 miles with no major issues. I am sure that the ones we have repaired will last a very long time. they get a second chance at life starting at 100,000 miles and above. My buddy has one with 240,000 miles after fixing the engine and still going. The fact that they are ticking time bombs with the original head still on is true. but once the head is repaired the threat is gone. I would never buy a used head for this engine - you must go rebuilt. Most engines with this malady wind up needing a few new pistons, and a rebuilt head. You must unplug the intake manifold and flush and scrub the runners to remove any debris from the valve failure. if you don't it will happen again as soon as the engine reaches operating temp, as pieces from the original failure lodge in the sludge in the intake and loosen up and re-enter the cylinders when warm and there goes the engine. I have used junk yard piston & rod assemblies many times to procure the repair. Fresh gaskets and what ever else is needed for the engine to run in good health. new rings would be best but you can re-use them. I do recommend meticulous care in cleaning each piston ring and land to assure the oil rings move freely on used parts and the other piston assemblies. the engine can develop a smoke problem at around 160,000 miles if not done. Most times there is no damage to the block or nothing to worry about at least. The crankshafts, even bearings and oil pumps are very durable - I hardly ever replace them most engine repairs can be done without removing the eng. block from the car. Oil pans come off easy. The head is the whole job. but almost always have to replace a piston or two. I really like these little 4 cylinder motors once the defect is fixed. Al Simone

- alsimona, Berlin, NJ, USA

problem #53

Mar 122013

Focus ZX3 2.0 lzetec

  • Manual transmission
  • 101,000 miles

Had purchased from a Joe Cooper Easy Credit Auto lot. It had been owned previously by a teenager i'm sure because of the aftermarket line protectors on the engine spark plug wires, and color matching steel reinforced line protectors on some of the coolant hoses. Joe Cooper assured me that their ASE certified mechanics had went over the engine and did some kinda 100 etc. inspection point safety test or another, and that if something did fail within the warranty, pending on where on the vehicle it would be taken care of. I didn't look close enough at the contract ( my fault ) and after purchasing the vehicle, 4,000 miles down the road, I began losing power and the engine began misfiring. I took it to the autolot and described what was doing on to the checkin attendant and got a ride back home ( 60+ miles away ). I get a call almost 3 days later, to find out that they haven't even gotten to my vehicle yet and that it would be another day or two before they could get a mechanic on it. A week goes by, I get a call again stating that not only had a valve had stuck and was bent, but also that a cylinder had stuck and failed. They repurchased another block and inspected it , then I get another call stating it would be the best time to switch out the timing gears and belt, but that I would have to be billed for the labor for that because the warranty didn't cover rubber products within the engine, or normally failing engine components, to include the timing gears. That in itself was 450 just in labor billed that I had to pay. Utilizing the rest of the other engines equipment ( alternator, battery, hoses, etc. ) they finally tested my car and after paying almost 750.00 in all ( which I had to get a partial loan for ) I was able to get it back.

- Joseph H., Pawnee, OK, USA

problem #52

May 012013

Focus SE Sohc Spi

  • Automatic transmission
  • 135,000 miles


click to see larger images

engine failure engine failure engine failure engine failure

Dropped valve seat in cylinder 4. How is this not a lawsuit yet. Contacted Ford and the Rep dropped me faster than my valve seat. LAST FORD EVER.

- Raymond P., Meeker, CO, USA

problem #51

May 152011

Focus SE 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 132,000 miles

Had purchased this vehicle through a Ford Dealership. Bought it one year old and only had 16000 miles in it. Worked OK for a few years then suddenly it began to have shaking upon idle, was slow to accelerate and hard to start.

After taking the vehicle to a local mechanic, he mentioned that the cylinders were not firing as they should be. I had to replace the plugs and wires along with sensors galore.

One day I returned home only to find that the car would not fire. It had a clunking noise as well. I took it to another mechanic and he was curious enough to remove the cylinder head to find that one of the valves had sunken in to the cylinder space all the way through to the manifold causing the cylinder to break through and crack the engine block. This was so frustrating.

The mechanic mentioned that this type of engine was manufactured in another country and that the block was built here in the USA. The mismatching of the cylinder head and the engine block provided a leeway for the valve to easily sink through and produce such catastrophe.

I have tried to look for this engine but failed to find one that is the exact model as mine. Now my car sits behind my parent's house and I am thinking of selling it for parts. Word to the wise: On my next vehicle purchase, I will need to do some homework prior to buying it.

- Hector S., Brownsville, TX, USA

problem #50

May 172012

Focus ES 2.0L 4cl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 150,000 miles

As everyone else, I had the same problem and had to replace my motor.

- Autumn R., Ironton, OH, USA

problem #49

Jan 122013

Focus SE 2.0L P Engine

  • Automatic transmission
  • 128,078 miles

i have a 2002 ford focus se with the 2.0l P engine. it just turned 128000 and was running beautifully when disaster struck. i just left work and stopped by the store to get a few things and when i came out to start it up without warning the engine starting knocking real bad and missing out. when i got the car towed home i pulled the spark plugs and no.4 spark plug was destroyed. looks like i dropped a valve or seat. you can see inside the spark plug hole and see the piston-YUCK If ford knew they had a problem with these engines why didn't they correct it and help their customers? THIS CAR HAS BEEN BABIED AND THE OIL WAS CHANGED EVERY 3000 MILES. THIS PROBABLY WILL BE MY LAST FORD.

- Earl C., Greenfield, IN, USA

problem #48

Nov 212012

Focus LS 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 100,064 miles


I bought a 2002 focus in 2010, great car only had 80,000 miles on it.then recently it turned over 100,000 miles. then it turned into a piece of crap. was driving one day, i pulled away from a stop sign the car started bucking and jerking,then shut off.took it home,started diagnosing it found out it dropped the valve and destroyed the motor.Started researching online just to find the 2.0 split port motor is a real piece of crap.I found numerous reports of others having the same problem. I decided to contacted ford,needless to say they offered no help. I really don't understand why if there are so many people having the same issue why no recall. It just sucks i paid 6000 for that car just to put 20,000 miles on it.

- bobrob39, martinsburg, WV, USA

problem #47

Feb 152012

Focus SE 2.0L Sohc

  • Automatic transmission
  • 145,000 miles

Same old story. The valve dropped in and ruined the cylinder walls. Fortunately I was able to find a used engine from the local junkyard. Still seems awfully common on this car!

- kencunm, None Of Your Business, NO, USA

problem #46

Jun 012012

Focus Sohc

  • Automatic transmission
  • 85,000 miles

My mother-in-law bought her a 2002 Ford Focus several years ago and it drove fine until one day she went to the store and started it up and it started having the same problems I've read on this website. I started out running ruff and had a VERY BAD vibration even when sitting still there idling. Then that's when it blew up. I took it to a mechanic that told us it didn't have any compression in two of the four cylinders. So I thought I might just rebuild the engine or even put in a salvaged. The first thing I did was to call around the local salvage yards and that's when I got educated on this SOHC engine. The first thing guy at the salvage yard ask me was what's the eighth digit on the VIN number? " I described what the motor was doing to him and he said "I bet the eighth digit is a "P. I went to check and sure enough, he was right, It was a "P".... I said "Do you mean "P" as in PIECE OF CRAP ! And he said yes, He said he has a list of people wanting them just to get their car in a "running condition" so they can sell it as a running car. not a broke down junker.

After reading this blog, there is now way in hell I would dump even a single dime on this P. O. S. DO NOT BUY A FORD WITH A SOHC MOTOR IN IT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

- griffinok, Oklahoma City, OK, USA

problem #45

Aug 122009

Focus SE 2.0L Sohc 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 172,000 miles

I have been looking this up, and I have been finding that this appears to be a common problem for this particular engine and year.

In August of 2009 I started this car and it had a horrendous banging/knocking noise. Until this day, I had no major problems with this car. I really liked the car and it was reliable, gas efficient and was just an overall great car! I had to make a few repairs to the transmission, replace the starter and alternator, what I considered to be routine maintenance on the car. I drove the car 52 miles one direction for work and the car was very reliable. When the car started on this particular day, along with the banging, the car shook like an earthquake was passing.

The car sat for three years in the garage, as our (my husband and mine) business failed in the great economy fail of 2008, and did not have the cash to replace the engine at that time. I had the car towed to a mechanic that my husband currently works with (he's a retired mechanic) and he tore the engine apart this past week. He (the mechanic) said that the #2 valve seat had denigrated and was down in the cylinder. Because of the damage to these, the piston rammed into the head and cracked it. Now, if all these people are complaining, you would think that FORD would take action to correct the manufacturing defect. Of course not. No answer or explanation from them. This is the first time that I am not happy with Ford and this is the fourth vehicle we purchased brand new from them. I am very disappointed that Ford would be so dismissive with dealing with this defect. The car had always been taken care of mechanically, and the mechanic stated that the car was definitely worth saving, with gas prices and the overall condition of the car. In this way, we will not have another car payment.

- Amanda M., Momence, IL, USA

problem #44

Mar 022012

Focus SE 2.0L

  • Manual transmission
  • 97,000 miles

click to see larger images

engine failure

Bought the car from an eldery lady that always had the service done at dealership. 88,000 miles, I drove it for 9,000 miles, filled up gas and when I went to start it, it sounded like the engine was going to blow up! I had the car towed home, tore it down and couldn't believe what I found. The number 4 cylinder intake valve seat blew up and destroyed the engine. I found aluminum in all the cylinders! This car has never been abused. So many people have complained about this that Ford has got to know about this problem, but they refuse to do anything about it. So we the people get screwed again. I've owned Ford's since 1967 and have never had an engine fail so bad. Now I have no choice but to rebuild the engine with a remanufactured head that has the upgraded valve seats. If this wasn't a continuing problem, then how come everybody is selling heads with upgraded valve seats! I guess Ford just doesn't give a poop! Another customer lost! Shoot, I might even have to buy a Chevy!

- 67hardtop, Manito, IL, USA

problem #43

Jan 062012

Focus LX

  • Automatic transmission
  • 147,105 miles

Bought the 2002 Ford Focus LX used at 134,139 miles in 2010. I assumed the car would have some minor issues with its age and high miles, but I needed a car in a hurry. Mind you I also own a 2002 Ford Taurus SE and had to do a lot of repair and it crapped out on me so I looked for another car. Never again will I buy another Ford. So I drive to work and back and go back out. Get to destination and park on the return, turn key to start and hear a clicking noise. First thought was the starter. Tried again same thing. On the third attempt, car starts and there is an loud ( I mean loud) clanking under the hood and car is hesitant to accelerate. Not wanting to pay for tow truck, i drove the car clanking loudly across the mall parking lot to Firestone. I get there and the tech listens and says its a thrown rod in the engine. I am a little upset that the car already needs another engine at 147k miles. Car lot says the engine needs to be switched out and under extended warranty, I get another engine installed along with new spark plugs, wires and water pump.. The day I picked up the car, I noticed that it bucked at 40-60mph. I call the car lot and they say to bring back in a week for an appointment. Day of appointment, car lot says it is not something they did. Took car to Meineke, they did not find a resolution. Told me I had a cracked exhaust manifold, I repaired that for $628 and the problem is better but not fixed. Car also has a hesitation from 0-10mph like its having a hard time shifting gears. Do not buy a FORD, at least not out of warranty. I have 2 and they are headache, honestly I have the service records to prove it.

- shannonok, Tulsa, OK, USA

problem #42

Nov 152011

Focus SE 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 87,613 miles

click to see larger images

engine failure

Same problem as most of you here. It started with what seemed like wanting to stall on start up, with the engine shaking and smell of fumes. I would turn off the engine, start up again and sometimes it was then ok. Seemed to happen more in the rain so we thought it might be ignition coil/plug wires. The garage told me it was ok to keep driving it, even though they were reporting misfire in cylinder 4.

Then I came home one day when the car was fine, but on starting up again there was a huge knocking sound. Tried it again and just got worse. Towed to the shop and found out the valve seat had smashed to pieces and the cylinder head damaged.

They are recommending a new engine or new cylinder head + piston inspection. I'm donating it to the Kidney Foundation instead. Repairs cost more than it's worth.

Car had been well cared for and we recently replaced a bunch of things. I would never have imagined this was a fairly common problem. Definitely not buying Ford again.

- hayleybc, Whistler, BC, canada

problem #41

Nov 082011

Focus SE 4 cyl

  • Automatic transmission
  • 130,000 miles

This car is killing me to get fixed!! $3500.00 to fix a blown engine is ridiculous! I can't believe that Ford didn't recall these engines with as many customers that have a problem with them. Ford should honor the customers that have been loyal enough to purchase their cars! Believe me they will be losing a lot of repeat business because of this. Who wants to purchase another piece of crap that you can only get 100,000 miles out of it until you have to buy another car! In these hard times we don't have the funds to purchase another car! Ford you suck!!!!

- Pamela W., Broadview, IL, USA

problem #40

Jul 222011

Focus SE 2.0L

  • Automatic transmission
  • 155,000 miles

I read the list of complaints and thought everyone had read my mind. 155K and fine running car that I was delivering to my son in Alexandria. I had just replaced the tie rods, struts, shocks, rotors, and other parts to make it a safe car for his commute from Alexandria to Quantico. I rounded the turn from 66 to 110 S, and the car quit, dead. It had run like a top from Cleveland to Washington. I assumed it was a timing belt or something and almost dropped my teeth when the mechanic told me the engine was blown. I am still searching for a good used engine, but I don't know. I had a 2002 Ford Escort that died the same way-instantly, with a cracked cylinder-at 140K. Now, I am 400 miles away, with a broken car in Alexandria. Thanks, Ford. By the way, my 1980 Lincoln blew an engine at 88K. Hmmm! Seems to be a pattern here.

Update from Nov 17, 2011: I found the solution. I stopped buying Fords. I gave my son my wife's Hyundai, and bought her a Nissan. I drive a Chrysler van. My next one will be foreign, too.

- bruic, Rocky River, OH, USA

problem #39

Nov 132010

Focus LS

  • Automatic transmission
  • 50,000 miles

My parents bought this car brand new and when we moved from the states to PR they decided to ship this vehicle. What a mistake! It is very annoying when you hardly use a car and the car doesn't perform the way it should. It seems like after the warranty is over everything on the car starts to go downhill. The engine makes rattling noises and shakes a lot. The car doesn't have a lot of power. One day we drove to the store and as soon as I turned off the engine I noticed that the car made a really loud noise in the engine, opened the hood and didn't see anything weird. I had a funny feeling in my stomach something was wrong. I started driving on the expressway to go back home. The car was driving like brand new, then all of a sudden the gauges on the car went crazy and I notice a decline in acceleration. I automatically proceeded to turn into the emergency lane and the car just turned off automatically. Tried to turn on the car, nothing happened. Well to make a long story short, the car had to be towed and I didn't have the car for more than 2 weeks. These cars have problems with their engines, they overheat really easy and they don't have enough power. No wonder my dad was against buying this car he always said that Ford does not make good cars, they are not reliable. I noticed here in Puerto Rico people drive Toyotas and they are very happy with them, so, I definitely know what car I will be buying next. I had a 95 Hyundai Accent when I lived in the states and people talked so badly about that car, but I do have to say I bought the car used and I had it for 5 yrs. Every winter, even though it was below 0 degrees, that car always started without any problems. It never left me stranded like this Ford Focus does.

- Lulu R., Juncos, PR, Puerto Rico

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