Fearing the Focus

Update by Tom Suddard to the Ford SVT Focus project car
Aug 26, 2014

Don't forget your jack stands!
We enlisted Mitchell, a member of the GRM extended family, to help out. Did we have to vacuum before fixing the car? No. But it sure makes the job easier, and it'll make you feel better about what you're working on, too.
Rather than use the company shop, we decided to stick with the all-too-real scenario of this being a college kid's car. Right down to the one-car garage.
Meet Data, our shop kitten.
Step one: remove the coolant tank and the engine mount.
Then, remove the belt. We didn't even need tools for this part, as our tensioner was so worn we could move it by hand.
See the tensioner? Niether can we. But trust us, it's down there.
We always draw a belt routing diagram before we get too deep into a project. It's cheap insurance.
Oh, okay–that's definitely bad.

In the last update about our Ford Focus SVT, we’d just bought it and were thrilled. We even committed a GRM sin and took it to a shop, then paid someone else to work on it! To make a long story short, the timing belt was 50,000 miles overdue, and we couldn’t afford to take the day off work to fix it right then. The decision between possibly ruining the engine and paying a few hundred dollars in labor charges was an easy one–our newly timed Focus was returned to us the same day, but we were $500 poorer.

Then we put 1500 miles on it in two weeks. Yes, yes–that’s a lot of miles, and we really liked the Focus. It was a great car: fun, comfortable, practical, and fairly quick. We even had a girl riding in it for a few minutes!

Then it broke. The belt started squealing, and when we went to tighten it we realized the Focus had an automatic belt tensioner–one that was broken and also located at the creamy nougat center of the car. We did what any respectable Focus owner would do, and parked the car under a tree for a few weeks. We’re not scared of admitting it: we’ve never owned something with the engine mounted sideways before, and we were scared to work on it. Who in their right minds would put the front of the engine against the passenger-side inner fender!?

But finally, we’ve resurrected it. It turns out that replacing the tensioner is about a $40 part and a 40 minute job. We might even say this thing is easier to work on then the traditional rear-wheel-drive layouts we’re accustomed to.

We’ve got our Focus back and we’re over our initial fears–it’s time to get this project started.

What’s up first? Probably a clutch. It’s obvious that ours has reached the end of its life, so before we take the car on track we’ll need some new friction material.

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View comments on the GRM forums
chuckathon New Reader
10/22/15 11:41 p.m.

I loved my SVT Focus when I had it. I wonder why you did not replace the tensioner when the timing belt was done. Tsk tsk. Also replacing the timing belt on the SVT is a royal pain. Because of the variable cam it is ridiculous trying to keep the timing right.

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