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Discussion Starter #1
My 240SX is rapidly rotting underneath me and as painful as it is, I think it's time to let her go. I'm not too excited about going back to FWD, but I don't think I'm going to have much of a choice, and therefore the Focus has entered into my research. I have looked through here for some kind of Focus buyers guide and have been unable to find one, so could someone give me some pointers / things to look out for in a 2000-2004 Focus ZX3? How reliable are they? Anything prone to failure / early wear? Are they all going to come with either the Zetec or Duratec, or is there another engine underneath that? Any significant difference between years? Should I absolutely try to get a duratec zx3 ?

Thanks for your help! Any other buying advice would be greatly appreciated.
 

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Devil's Advocate. Just to cheese you off.
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First, if you're going used, go with an 03 or 04. They had the least amount of problems and recalls.

You'll be most comfortable with either an SVT (expensive) or a PZEV, which features the same 2.3L Duratec engine that's in the 2005 Focus ST. It's extremely torquey, and responds with startling gains to simple bolt-on modifications. For 2000 - 2002, there was a lower end engine called the SPI, which is basically a 2.0-liter version of the 1.9-liter SOHC Escort engine (the CVH) with a fancy split-port head and a dual-stage Intake Manifold. Putting out all of 110 horsepower, though, I'd stay away from the SPI, especially considering you're used to the numbers your Nissan puts out.

If I had to do it all over again, I'd get an 03 or 04 PZEV (Duratec) 2.3L ZX3, and start with an aftermarket intake to bypass the silly emissions tricks Ford did to the PZEV.
 

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I don't think the 5 door is any cheaper. The SVT has higher insurance for sure.

The SVT, you're paying for Fit and Finish. the interior is nicer in the SVT, you can get the impressive Mach HID headlights or the nifty European appearance package (which has the Mach HID's and nice wheels).

Honestly, starting from a PZEV platform is the best bang for the buck.
 

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Seconding ax0n's advice. The SVT came with all kinds of cool stuff, but the 2.3 Duratec can be made faster for less money.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
What about on the zetec focuses (foci?) A 2001-2002 ZX3 with 40k on it goes for $5-6k around here, which is pretty appealing. What kind of stuff would I want to check / look for if I decided to get one of these?

edit: Whatever I get would be kept fairly stock. Intake / Exhaust / Shift kit if necessary / wheels would be about it. I have my motorcycle for speed
 

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Well, my car is a 2000 ZX3. Here are the problems I've had (note: the recalls should already have been done on a 2000 or 01 focus, but check with the dealer before buying)

Recalls (none of them actually caused me problems except the fuel pump)
A-Pillar Trim (replaced padding material behind a-pillar with something more appropriate, in case your head hits it in an accident)
Rear Wheel Bearing (a bad seal design caused problems with the wheel bearing)
Rear seat (beefed up mounting brackets for crash safety)
Fuel Pump (cheapo pump prone to fail replaced with newer, more robust one)

Problems that I've had beyond recalls:
Ignition cylinder seized (common on older foci, I fixed mine myself)
Front seat bolsters broken (fixed from the dealer, but they recently broke again. probably because I'm fat)
DPFE Sensor failed (common problem on older foci, my SCT chip disables the whole EGR system so it's fine now)
Coil-pack wire harness got brittle and broke (another common problem)

Other than that, she's been great. I'm closing in on 90,000 miles after more than 5 years. All in all, this car's given me the least amount of problems of any car I've owned (but that's an 81 accord, 89 aerostar, and 95 escort, so not really saying much)
 

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There are a couple other problems which show up only under heavy road-course track use.
As with any car, there are little problems here or there on a handful of cars, but most are related to sensor gremlins.
Ideally you want a car that hasn't lived up North in salty conditions, unless it's been garaged in the winters.

I've had a few minor problems with mine, but nothing that could keep me from buying a second Focus for my wife.
(Yes, we're a 2 Focus family).
I owned one and wrecked it, and replaced it with a nearly identical one, per my sig.
My wife had a ZX-5 and someone pulled in front of her, totalling it, and hers has been replaced with a sedan, due to the lack of availability of a used, low miles ZX-5 w/ a manual tranny.
With 4 Focuses in our history, I'd still buy another one any day.
Roominess, pep, HANDLING, gas mileage, and good ergonomics are all HUGE plusses, especially for what you pay.
All types of cars have their lemons, so take horror stories with a grain of salt.
The ZX-3 and ZX-5 are identical mechanically, so it all depends on how much you'll be using the rear seat for passengers as to which one is preferable.
Insurance goes up with the letters "SVT", but a ZX-5 SVT is a nice find. Otherwise, the Zetec has a bunch of aftermarket, but the Duratec has more Ooomph out of the box w/o so much aftermarket.
Welcome to the board!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for all the responses guys. One last question - How different is the Zetec from the new 2.0 Duratec? Would you recommend looking at a 2.0 '05 ZX3 or are they not worth it over the 1st gens?
 

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The main difference to ME, is the amount of experience and aftermarket that's available for the Zetec.
The Duratec is catching on, but most of the experience so far is with the 2.3.
If I were getting an '05, I'd look at only the ST sedan w/ the 2.3 and a manual tranny, just for the "oomph" and for the brakes and suspension.
If you want something beyond an '04, I'd consider waiting to see what '06 models bring if the ST sedan doesn't meet your tastes.
Of course, that's just MY opinion.
 

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Stock for stock, the 2.0 Duratec puts out more torque and a little more horsepower than the 2.0 Zetec. If intake and exhaust is all you're going to do, the Duratec is the better engine. However, I'm not sure if it's worth the extra price you'd pay for an '05 vs an '03 or so. I'd suggest taking a test drive to get a feel for it yourself.
 

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I was just in your exact same situation. I ended up buying a new 05 over used, including SVT's for a few reasons:

1. The Ford Family pricing was just too good to pass up. $12,500 for a brand new 05 ZX3 SES? What a bargain.

2. SVT's were too much money for me. If they were cheap, they were beat to hell, and if they were in good shape, they were around 15k, which was more than I could spend.

3. SVT's require premium fuel. I could handle the lesser gas mileage for the extra performance, but have you seen gas prices lately?

4. Warranty. I'm planning on driving this car until I run it into the ground. The 05's have a 100,000 mile powertrain warranty. I think the 03's and 04's do as well, but then they have miles on them too.

5. Loans - I could get a longer term and better interest rate new vs. used.

I seriously would've loved to get an SVT, but I just couldn't make it work. All I really needed was a relatively fun to drive car to get me to work and back. I decided the 05 ZX3 was it.

Oh yeah, insurance between an 03 or 04 SVT vs an 05 ZX3 was basically a wash - maybe $10 more per 6 months for the SVT through State Farm.

BTW I just bought mine on Aug. 1. So far so good.

Good luck with your decision.
Jeff
redsuperhawk
 
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