pretty bad
Typical Repair Cost:
Average Mileage:
99,450 miles
Total Complaints:
4 complaints

Most Common Solutions:

  1. not sure (2 reports)
  2. replace alternator (1 reports)
  3. replace negative battery terminal, clamp and wire (1 reports)
2004 Ford Focus engine problems

engine problem

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2004 Ford Focus Owner Comments

problem #4

Mar 302013

Focus ZX5 2.3L

  • Manual transmission
  • 120,000 miles


I can safely say that, with 99.9% certainty (small uncertainty because of unreliability of this car's entire electrical system) that I have fixed the problem... When it happened to me the first person that looked at it said the alternator was bad and I knew they were wrong because I had just tested it before bringing it in and it's voltage output was fine. I was able to trace the problem to a bad ground right at the battery (confirmed by a resistance test performed from alternator to battery w/ car running that showed WAY to many Ohm's); although I sincerely hope Ford put more than just 1 ground within the system but I do not have a schematic of the wiring harness to confirm that. Replace both the Positive (for good measure) and Negative (the ground) wires and clamps that connect to your battery. Corrosion can travel down a wire so just cleaning the battery terminal & clamp is not always sufficient since electricity travels on the surface of wires not inside them. After I replaced these my car NEVER had that problem again no matter how hard I try to recreate it. If I'm right your car probably starts up fine at your house, runs, then you let it sit a while and when you drive it again it starts acting up (sometimes not always)? That's called a "Hot-Soak" and you can help to further prevent this from happening by applying conductive grease (make sure it's conductive!) to the terminals & clamps before connecting them. This usually applies to areas with hot weather but can also happen in the cold. The reason your alternator is going bad is because of the increased resistance the corrosion adds to the car's low-voltage electric system. If the resistance is too high the alternator WILL become damaged over time but that does NOT mean it is the cause of the problem. If you can't afford to replace the wires/clamps then first use baking soda mixed with water to begin cleaning corroded terminals/clamps/wires (be careful! wear gloves if possible and avoid touching anything with your hands/gloves/whatever if they've come in contact with corroded parts! wash anything that contacted corrosion thoroughly with soap & water afterwards). After you finish with the baking soda/water use about 220-grit sandpaper to thoroughly scrub and clean all remaining corrosion off of terminals/wires/clamps. Finally apply the conductive grease (if you can) and reattach the clamps to the battery terminals tightly (again be careful about anything you touch after contacting the corrosion and wash anything that does thoroughly with soap & water). I'm fairly certain that this will cause the issue with your vehicle to cease. Don't waste money on parts and labor when the mechanic is misinformed, misdirected, or just BS'ing. If they're testing your alternator or looking at it after long-term use with high resistance then they'll falsely believe it's the source of the problem (or know it's not and that you'll be back) and may inform other mechanics about it, ect. Proper procedure would dictate tests of both electrical potential AND resistance but mechanics are usually not about procedure. I really hope this helps some and if not then have a mechanic specifically test or replace the wiring harness/electrical system for problems and narrow it down! Do not let them charge you for tossing a part in the car that "keeps breaking every few months". Cars are precision machines designed to work a specific way and flaws cause them to break just like any machine. Once the flaw is corrected the machine will naturally wear with time, but it will do so V E R Y slowly and not "eat up parts" like crazy. Ford built lots of these flaws into their vehicles but if you truly get something "fixed" it should not be a problem again for a very, very long time. Good luck.

- t3h5p4r74n, Mesa, AZ, US

problem #3

Apr 302011

Focus SE

  • Manual transmission
  • 190,000 miles

Today my car wont start again. My husband and I assume its the alternator again. We've owned the car for 4 years and the last 3 years there has been at something wrong with it. Every year between April and June our alternator goes out and we have to replace it. As of today this will make it the 3rd time to replace the alternator. We've spent more money fixing this car then what we purchased it for. I've never liked fords and this is the first one that my whole family has bought and will be the last one for the whole family. I've also have had fuses go out because a wire kept on touching metal. the clutch go out twice everybody that has ever driven a standard has a hard time in our car all of them kill several times before they can figure it out. and I'm talking about people that have driven standards for 30 years. However, my biggest frustration is the alternator keeps on going out I shouldn't have to replace the alternator every year like clockwork.....

- Loren R., lubbock, TX, US

problem #2

Mar 192007

(reported on)

Focus XE3 3.2

  • Automatic transmission
  • 36,700 miles

The car key tumbler won't turn at all. Everything locked up and became stranded. Had to call dealership to come and pick up car which my warranty has ended, so I end up having to pay out of pocket expense. It was a 2004 Ford Focus. I was also without a car for a long while. If there is a recall on this, please email me today, so I can see if I can get reimbursed.

- cindy2490, Yuma, AZ, US

problem #1

Jan 302007

(reported on)

Focus 1600

  • Manual transmission
  • 51,000 miles

on cold start there is a clicking noise from the engine and i thought it sounded like the tappets, it goes after half a mile or so when the engine has warmed up, its not too bad but its a worry.

- Paul C., Birmingham, Stechford, UK

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