fusion66
fusion66 New Reader
3/6/18 7:36 a.m.

I figured I would start a build thread regarding my plans for a recently acquired 2005 Ford Focus ZX4 ST from a fellow board member. I have been away from “motorsports” for 15-20 years having previously autocrossed an older RX-7 and prior to that playing around with go-kart racing (asphalt tracks and dirt circle tracks).

 

I went to check out the Focus with thoughts of either autocross or rallycross as the likely end game. It was a bit rough around the edges after sitting outside for a year, but a new battery brought it to life nearly instantly. The victory was short lived as it would not move under its own power. We hooked a truck up to it to give it a tug and hopefully break it free but it would not budge.

 

The seller was kind enough to help pop the wheels off one at a time and pull the brakes (corroded to the rotors) as needed. The fronts were “free” but the rears were corroded tight and tough to pry off. Removing the backer shims gave enough room to slide the assembly back in place and have a wheel that turned relatively freely. Money was exchanged and off I went on the 65 mile trip to my parent’s house for storage until the weather improves.

 

I had brought a gallon of gas to make sure I could get to the nearest gas station to fill it up. I noticed a little “overflow” as I drained the last bit of the can into the tank but chalked it up to not having the nozzle fully inserted. The fuel gage indicated ¼ tank which might have been enough to get me home but I didn’t want to chance it, so we stopped at the gas station a couple of miles down the road. I started to pump fuel and it clicked off after .2 gallons. I tried again and it purged a tiny amount of fuel. Note number 1, the fuel gage is off a bit as the tank was full.

 

To say the brakes were marginal on the way home would be a bit of an understatement so I kept the speed in check and relied on heavy downshifting to help aid the foundation brakes. The PO had mentioned a vibration around 70 mph but I was not approaching that speed given the current conditions. There was a pretty severe vibration present from 30mph and up under acceleration but it was not too bad under steady state cruise. I made it to my parent’s house without any issues and parked it for the week.

 

This past weekend I had a chance to go over and give it a much more detailed inspection including the underside to look for any areas of concern from a corrosion standpoint. I did not find anything that gave me pause, but it likely isn’t going to be a show winner and given the overall condition versus potential investment for each type of racing (autocross versus rallycross), I made the initial decision that it should be destined for rallycross greatness.

 

Near term repairs based on what I have found so far include a valve cover gasket set replacement and a lower transmission torque mount replacement. The valve cover has leaked and filled a couple of the sparkplug port holes with engine oil and I suspect that the vibration under load might have been an associated engine miss (or maybe not…time will tell). The trans torque mount is shot and it may also be tied to the vibration. The PO believes that the 70 mph vibration was tied to a half-shaft. With 212K miles they both have a little play in them but I will start knocking off the clear known issues first and then address them if the vibration is annoying.

 

In keeping with the budget theme, I want to hold myself accountable for keeping this project cheap. Investment so far:

 

2005 Ford Focus ZX4 ST $400

FelPro valve cover gasket set $16

Trans torque mount $22

Battery (sort of free – removed my 8/13 battery in my DD Fusion and put it into service in the Focus – the Fusion was cranking kinda slow so not sure this is a long term solution)

Total to date $438

 

I hope to hit the first race with under $1k invested (stretch goal of under $800).

 

The starting point for the car: https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/201x-classifieds/2005-focus-st-500-nw-oh/137132/page1/

 

Near term purchases that are “required”:

 

Front left fender replacement plus pound out the leading edge of the door

Brake rotors on all four corners (I might re-use the existing pads – lots of thickness left but no clue on the quality of the material).

Tires and rims – the tires and rims that came with will be good for travel to and from events, but not for off road adventures. I’ll be looking for cheap rims and snow tires I think.

Clutch is an unknown – I can get tire chirp in the driveway and that might be good enough for now for racing on the dirt?

 

I am guessing that my updates will be pretty infrequent (once or twice a month), and the work being done is far below most of what goes on here, but maybe someone will be able to take away some future lessons learned on what to do or what not to do when attempting to rallycross on a budget.

The good :)

The ugly :)

 

DocV
DocV Reader
3/6/18 9:03 a.m.

Looks like a good start.  I would like to find one with that engine someday.  Keep the pics coming.  

FooBag
FooBag Reader
3/6/18 10:27 a.m.

Foci seem prone to motor mount failure when used for rallycross, so I would include them all in your budget, especially with that many miles.  I'd also plan on new axles as those 212k ones aren't going to last long dealing with full lock turns under throttle.

I suspect you're already aware of this, but steel wheels are a bad idea for rallycross.  They are prone to fatigue failure.  I'd stick with 15" wheels so that you are set if you decide to move on to rally tires in the future.

I wouldn't worry about the pad material much as brakes are used so minimally for rallycross.

If you end up having to do wheel bearings in the future, replace the hub as well.  I've heard of hub failure like pictured below.

fusion66
fusion66 New Reader
3/6/18 11:18 a.m.

In reply to FooBag :

Many thanks for the insight and advice! I was not aware that steel wheels are bad for rallycross.

Thoughts on replacement axles - aftermarket versus OEM junkyard (lower mileage) units?

Thanks for confirming what I hoped to hear on the brakes.

Professor_Brap
Professor_Brap Reader
3/6/18 11:24 a.m.

Id grab some from the junk yard and slap them in and rebuild your old ones. 

cfvwtuner
cfvwtuner New Reader
3/6/18 5:12 p.m.

In our 1 owner 2000 ZX3, we had to replace the axles at 100K.  The car was autocrossed and tracked since day 1.  Go with a better axle, as the reman ones we got caused a vibration at 70 mph.

 

And ditto on the hub.  I had that failure on my focus at a track event. I dont know what broke first, the hub or the multi piece factory axle nut.  The only warning I had was the car lost brakes.  A couple pumps of the pedal and they were back.  No noise or vibration at all.  

Professor_Brap
Professor_Brap Reader
3/7/18 9:52 a.m.

Oh I forgot how much I hate thoes axle nuts. 

We did a trans in on last weekend due to a kid doing reverse to 1st burn outs 

 

Gaunt596
Gaunt596 Reader
3/7/18 3:54 p.m.

Gator Axles out of Florida will build you a set of axles that won't explode for $350 shipped, as any sort of OEM or reman axles from an auto parts place will just explode, it took me three tries to learn that one. You definetly want better motor mounts. Or stock ones filled with window weld at an absolute bare minimum, although poly mounts are better. The stock aluminum wheels are plenty strong for Rallycross. Also, what motor is in that? The Zetech or SPI?

Hal
Hal UltraDork
3/7/18 4:09 p.m.

In reply to fusion66 :

RE: the 70 mph vibration.  Check the passenger side motor mount.  Had that problem with my Focus.  As mentioned, replacing all the motor mounts is a good idea.

fusion66
fusion66 New Reader
3/7/18 6:12 p.m.

In reply to Gaunt596 :

For context on exploding the axles, I plan to rallycross 2-3x a year. Would  it be unreasonable to expect an OEM take off axle to last a season? The window weld mount repair sounds right in line with my budget. The engine is a 2.3l Duratec. Thank you for the advice.

fusion66
fusion66 New Reader
3/7/18 6:13 p.m.

In reply to Hal :

I will add it to my to do list to inspect/replace it. Thanks!

Gaunt596
Gaunt596 Reader
3/7/18 6:38 p.m.
fusion66 said:

In reply to Gaunt596 :

For context on exploding the axles, I plan to rallycross 2-3x a year. Would  it be unreasonable to expect an OEM take off axle to last a season? I am not familiar with window weld. Home repair item or automotive? The engine is a 2.3l Duratec. Thank you for the advice.

Automotive item I believe. 3m window weld is the brand bame, Google should find you a tube or two, and that should be plenty to fill in the mounts. And I broke 3 axles in 3 events, before I got the rally spec axles, the problem isn't the axle itself, it's the low quality CV joints that blow apart, and the OEM ones might last one event, if your lucky, but will probably be shot after that. And if you have gravel rally tires, or some heavier snow tires, it just exaggerates the issue. And thats good to hear, the duratec motors still have some support for them, it's hard to find parts for the earlier cars.

fusion66
fusion66 New Reader
3/12/18 6:53 a.m.

Made some progress and spent some money over the weekend.

First order of business was a valve cover gasket change. The old gasket had allowed oil to seep past and partially fill two of the four sparkplug ports. The only issue that I have is an OBD code 0183 and 0193 after the change which is likely due to a poor connection. I will clean and reseat the connector next weekend.

Second order of business was replacement of the transmission torque mount. I had ordered polyurethane bushings for this and overall it went well but I had one hiccup along the way that wasn't too bad to rectify. I removed the old bushings by using my jigsaw with a metal cutting blade to slice 80% of the way through the outer metal band and then used a chisel to break it free from the bore. Installation of the polyurethane bushings went better than expected as my body weight was enough to insert the larger bushing while the smaller bushing was inserted with hand force. When I went to re-install it things did not go as well. It turns out that the steel center bushing was about .020" too long and would not fit in the transmission mount. A few minutes with a belt sander remedied the situation and it popped back together without further trouble.

The last job for the day was removing the driver side fender and pounding the snot out of it to clear the leading  edge of the door so that it would no longer interfere when opening it. It certainly isn't pretty, but it is functionally better and a new fender won't make it any faster so it will be good enough for now. I may seek a junkyard fender in the future but that will be lower priority.

I found a set of (4) 16" OEM wheels on CL with (2) very good condition Firestone Winterforce tires and picked them up for $100 which will hopefully be a pretty good starting point for Rallycross. I will try to use the existing all season rear tires that are on the car and see how it goes.

Rotors for all 4 corners are now on order from Rock Auto to get the brakes into a little better shape as I feel the rotors are too far gone with corrosion to try to save them.

Budget update:

2005 Ford Focus ZX4 ST $400

FelPro valve cover gasket set $16

Trans torque mount $22

Battery (sort of free – removed my 8/13 battery in my DD Fusion and put it into service in the Focus – the Fusion was cranking kinda slow so not sure this is a long term solution)

Tires and wheels $100

Brake rotors (4) $74

Updated total - $612

fusion66
fusion66 New Reader
3/19/18 6:59 a.m.

Small amount of progress this weekend. I wasn't happy with my pounded out fender as it still had slight interference with the door when fully open. I hit the local pick and pull Friday and found a clean silver fender for $31 which was installed Sunday. I am not sure if I will address the paint mis-match but no more interference and overall the car looks better without the pounded out dents. Replaced the portion of the air intake snorkel that reside in the fender as well from Pick and Pull for $6.

I removed the brake pads on all four corners and found that one set had delaminated and others were too far gone to clean up with reasonable effort. Parts ordered from Rock Auto should arrive Thursday.

Oil and filter changed resulted in no apparent metallic content which is always a plus. Antifreeze flush and fill looked very good for a car with 213K miles.

Replaced the sunroof fuse which turned off the door ajar light, made the trunk button operational, and the dome light too. I have some work to do on the sunroof itself as it does not open except in vent mode and then doesn't close properly (PO mentioned this and thus why the fuse was pulled).

Cleaned the connections and reset the OBD code 0183 and 0193 and it has not reappeared so far.

Created an outline for a practice track at my parents place which is sort of a kidney shape with a cross over in the center to reverse direction as needed so I don't get into left turn only mode. It will get hit with the disc, grader box, and then rolled over the next couple of weeks weather permitting.

Budget update:

2005 Ford Focus ZX4 ST $400

FelPro valve cover gasket set $16

Trans torque mount $22

Battery (sort of free – removed my 8/13 battery in my DD Fusion and put it into service in the Focus – the Fusion was cranking kinda slow so not sure this is a long term solution)

Tires and wheels $100

Brake rotors (4) $74

Brake pads $21

Fender $31

Air intake snorkel $6

Oil and filter change $24

Antifreeze flush and fill $13

Plastic fasteners for inner fender $6

New total $713

 

fusion66
fusion66 New Reader
3/27/18 6:20 a.m.

Minor progress over the weekend. New pads and rotors installed on all four corners make for a significantly better braking situation versus the heavily corroded rotors and failing brake pads. I tried to get the sunroof operational for improved venting in the summer but found a broken part and opted to get it set in the proper closed position and then pull the switch connector so it doesn't get accidently actuated and stuck open.

Mounted the "new" snow tires up front and gave it a spin on the track that we created in the field at my parents place. It was cutting out severely on the first couple of laps, especially through a muddy spot. Luckily the flashing traction control light caught my eye and it was quickly fixed with the push of a button. The track is small with a straight-away speed of an indicated 32mph, but it at least started to give me a feel for the car. The mud section was too soft and I stopped after 8 laps as the car was nearly bottoming out due to the ruts I had created. Overall I was pleased with the tires and pull of the engine. The driver has a lot to learn.

I swapped tires back to the originals and drove it home for a VIN inspection so that I can start the title process. I had assumed that the fuel gage was not working because when I went to fill it up it only took a small amount and clicked off indicating full but the gas gage barely moved. I stopped for fuel near my house knowing I had driven at least 80 miles since the last "fill up" to get a feel for how the mileage might be. It clicked off almost immediately upon trying to fill it up. Turns out that something else is wrong as I was able to very slowly get 3 gallons in as it constantly tried to burp and overflow (it would have taken more fuel, but it was a very slow process). A little googling leads me to believe that I likely have a stuck evap solenoid not allowing the tank to vent during filling so I will check that out this weekend. The good news is that the fuel gage does work as indicated by the quarter tank of fuel when I pumped in 3 gallons and the low fuel light turning off. I think I was very lucky not to have run out of fuel on my drive.

The severe vibration under acceleration remains and I am hoping it is bad CV joints/axles as I have replacements on order and hope to work on the install this weekend. The other weekend project is an airbag light that is on all of the time. Googling indicates that the connection on the steering wheel bag can be faulty so I will take it apart, clean things up, and apply a little dielectric grease to see if I can get it to turn off.

Overall I am enjoying the process of turning a few wrenches again and seeing positive progress as a result.

Budget update:

2005 Ford Focus ZX4 ST $400

FelPro valve cover gasket set $16

Trans torque mount $22

Battery (sort of free – removed my 8/13 battery in my DD Fusion and put it into service in the Focus – the Fusion was cranking kinda slow so not sure this is a long term solution)

Tires and wheels $100

Brake rotors (4) $74

Brake pads $21

Fender $31

Air intake snorkel $6

Oil and filter change $24

Antifreeze flush and fill $13

Plastic fasteners for inner fender $6

CV Axles $140

Transmission lube $28

New total $881

 

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