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  • Focus MK2 dissapointment ameliorated/ fixed by perseverance.
  • kaiser
    Free Member

    Maybe not an exciting or interesting thread for many but I thought it might encourage others who are unhappy with their vehicles not to give up .

    As a previous owner of a MK 1 focus estate diesel I decided to replace her after 200K cheap and comfortable miles as the rot was setting in and various other expensive bills were on the horizon.I have minimal income but !uckily found an amazing deal through a friend on a MK 2 focus petrol estate.

    She was in excellent condition with 34K genuine miles and despite preferring diesel I couldn’t resist . I went ahead and immediately changed the cam belt just for peace of mind also partially removed the rear seats as I use the car as a small van most of the time with max of 1 passenger.

    Anyhow …

    Almost immediately after purchase I noticed how poor the ride was ..particularly above 50mph or on rough roads. The issues were

    1/ terribly noisy inside …lots of road roar and because of the large rear empty space it was only worsened

    2/ rigid and uncomfortable …you felt all the road
    irregularities which was tiring .

    3/ Nervous,twitchy steering ..felt somewhat unstable at speed (60/70+)..meaning difficult to relax on long journeys

    4/ far more wind noise despite no leaky seals

    5/ A seemingly impossible to locate creak from tailgate heard over every bump.

    6/ Gearbox seems too low geared meaning high revving at speed. Needs another gear.

    I researched online and found many of these complaints replicated with seemingly no fix ( noise blamed on poor soundproofing) so I got to work trying everything that wouldn’t cost much .

    After changing the tyres all round ( Goodyear efficient grip …made little difference ) and hours and hours of pondering, adjusting, and researching I almost gave up and began to hate driving it any distance .

    She was fine at low town speeds but otherwise pretty horrible! I added some sound insulation but that made minimal difference and obviously had zero effect on the nervous/ rough ride.

    I realized my model had zetec suspension ( god knows why?) Which is 15% stiffer than normal ..perhaps to enable heavier loads and presumed this was part of the issue .

    To cut a long story short . I fixed the tailgate creak after stripping/ lubing /adjusting everything …many hours of trial and error . It actually turned out to be a spot weld on the adjoining panel that was the culprit and I cracked it then lubricated and all good .. it had begun to drive me mad.

    I haven’t had any success with wind noise ( yet ) and the gearbox is what it is but ..the reason I started this thread was the noise / vibration/ handling and discomfort was solved or improved dramatically all round with one change which cost nothing and had truly transformed the car all round ? It literally feels like a different vehicle .

    That one change was to drop the tyre pressures by 10% all round. I know some will say I shouldn’t do that for safety reasons, overheating, fuel economy etc but I don’t drive fast , am rarely carrying any weight ( max 1 passenger + light stuff in the back ) and if I do any extended driving stints ( never exceed 65 anyhow) I will stop to check tyres are not hot and probably raise the pressure temporarily.

    I read an article recently where various MOT stations said something along the lines that many vehicles tested often had tyre pressures between 20 and 50% under inflated . This was simply due to many owners paying zero attention to their vehicles ..expecting garages to maintain everything that ever needed doing .

    I can barely believe how much this change has improved the car . Gone are the intrusive jolts,the extreme road roar and vibration and the handling/steering ..well’s gone from unnerving to confidence inspiring and now feels like my old MK1 which was truly wonderful ( Jeremy Clarkson actually bought a MK 1 after test driving one on his program) .

    Pressure is 10% down from the lower values ( 1 to 3 people + luggage ) printed on the door panel now 27 front/ 29.5 rear

    Just thought this might help others who have similar issue and await the warnings but I feel fairly happy it shouldn’t be a problem ( fingers crossed anyhow !)


    Full Member

    I do wonder how some car / bike manufacturers come up with tyre pressures sometimes.

    My two bikes are ostensibly the same (1200cc/90hp/240kg) and tyre volumes are not wildly different yet recommended tyre pressures are 36/40 for one & 32/36 for the other, so I wouldn’t stress about 10% variation if I were you.

    I think there is a correlation between cold & hot pressures – if pressure goes up by more than X % when hot then cold pressures are too low?

    Full Member

    Odd your experience of the Mk2 focus, I had one (from new) and it was the nicest car I’ve ever had to drive. Thought it handled tautly, steered well, and also comfortable.

    Various Skodas before and since, a Renault Grand Scenic, and now a Ford Grand Tourneo Connect (so admittedly, I’ve never owned anything very exotic!)

    Full Member

    Agree with the above, my Mum swapped her mk1 for a mk2.5 and it was so much more relaxing to drive. She still has it now, some 12+ years later and I bet it’s not gone past 40k!

    Free Member

    Perhaps you had the Ghia version , better soundproofing and standard suspension ?
    My MK1 estate had standard suspension and drove wonderfully..both comfortable and handled/ steerered well with no hands at speed stability.
    The MK2 estate .. so different .I actually started to hate it until I dropped the pressures below recommended. If I had bought new I would be sick as a dog if I hadn’t found a solution . Mine was an incredible buy price and condition wise but I wouldn’t choose a 1.6 petrol again .. too many gear changes needed for hills in Devon ..even unladen ..+ the low gearing causing high revs at 60mph . The engine actually sounds throaty from inside the car ..almost sports like and that’s not due to pipe , which is fairly quiet.
    Much prefer the diesel for easy ,lazy driving and bizarrely it was much quieter at high speed.

    Perhaps it’s an estate version issue only but in my hours of research I did see many disliking the MK2 .The estate was criticized for lack of soundproofing .The MK2.5 was apparently a lot better with less wind noise and other improvements. The stiffened Zetec version ( not engine) was also disliked by many . If I could have 15 inch wheels like on the MK2 and standard springs it would be much improved.

    Another ridiculous design fault on the MK2 is that the front drivers and passenger window wiper seal/rubbers do not contact the window glass due to it’s shape and when you wind them down to clear rain …it has no effect . The rubbers are not worn and it’s a known issue . I’ve tried to fix that with limited success but another chap fitted new OE with the same result . I have inserted rubber tubing in to the seal fold to increase the pressure against the window but it’s far from perfect.

    Full Member

    Did you check the tracking, if toe is not set correctly steering can feel twitchy.

    Free Member

    Yes tracking has been done recently . The rears have a lot of toe in as standard …not sure whether that’s good or not . The original rear tyres had a lot of wear on the inside 1/3 tread but the owner also had zero mechanical knowledge or understanding and was running them at silly pressures ( can’t remember but think it was low 15psi! . He never really went anywhere and left everything to the garage . It was serviced etc correctly and passed recent MOT with no problems. I have added 6K miles to the 34K he did from new with so far no problems except hating the ride ( until recently)

    Full Member

    Daft question. You sure you were not accidentally putting 3.2bar in, instead of 32psi?

    Full Member

    My Focus estate had odd tyres on the front axle and exhibited strange, nervous handling. When I fitted new tyres it behaved well and has exhibited no problems since.

    Full Member

    The mk2 was a less good car than the mk1 in loads of ways tbh, and better in others. The driving position and the storage space were the biggies- the mk1 was just brilliant for that, the mk2 they decided to not put the pedals right in front of the driver, and stopped filling every bit of empty room with cubbies and such. But, the mk2 should definitely feel like a more modern, polished car in most ways.

    Full Member

    I also went from mk1 to mk2 petrol. Agree that road/wind noise is annoying at higher speeds and the suspension is on the firm side for speed bumps and bad roads. But otherwise very happy with it. Hadn’t noticed the pedals issue. Like the handling and it’s comfortable. No issues with the 5 speed but most of my driving isn’t on motorways. Mk 2 definitely a step up in refinement. And the tech is great. Heated seats, auto wipers/lights etc. Everything works. Keyless entry has some quirks but nothing major.

    Full Member

    Perhaps you had the Ghia version , better soundproofing and standard suspension ?

    Nope. It was the Zetec. Estate too. But the 1.6TDCi.

    Maybe because it was new, we didn’t have some of the complaints you had, and think we only had it for a year or so as had to upgrade to a larger MPV.

    Full Member

    There is a lot of leeway in tyre pressures. VW said 38psi on the Passat, but the tyre manufacturer chart based on the wheel size and vehicle weight said 33. And it must be said that despite being really flippin picky with cars (and bikes) I could barely tell the difference between 33 and 38.

    One thing I have found that makes a tremendous difference to ride and comfort, but isn’t free or even cheap, is shock absorbers. They deteriorate over time, past about 5 years
    even if they don’t actually fail. The result is like an MTB fork that badly needs a service or has lost it’s negative air. You feel and hear bumps much more. That crashy crappy feeling of ‘oldness’ you get in older cars is largely down to the shocks. Putting new quality shocks on the Passat restored its ride to almost like new – even more so after a few hundred miles breaking them in. That was as close as I could get to OEM quality (Sachs). They were firmer than the originals but also plusher, if that makes sense.

    Full Member

    I have a mk2.5 (facelift) ot is a great car but it is on 18″ wheels from factory and they are way too big. The tyre roar from them is awful, would have much preferred it on 17s or even 16s. But it was 4k, in lockdown when I needed a car. 2.0 tdci in titanium trim, with all the trimmings, taken from 65 to 100k in less than 2 yrs done really well

    Full Member

    How do the wheels/tyres compare in size and profile?

    Free Member

    Owned a MK2 1.6 petrol. It was gutless. And that was in hatch form. You needed to work the gears.

    Own a MK2.5 ST as a toy. Both the 1.6 and ST have/had wind noise problems. For me it is the wing mirrors. Fold them in whilst driving and hear the difference. The coloured cover on the mirror lets wind in. The poor mounting design where the mirror body meets the door lets wind in. Annoying. I’ve rammed bits of foam in places and it’s helped.

    As for handling: an old 1.8 tdci MK1 was the most entertaining drive I had in many ways. Proved you don’t need power to have fun.

    Full Member

    We have a Golf. It’s a blumotion version, which means it’s supposed to be eco. The recommended tyre pressures are ridiculously high, in order to get the fuel consumption down to the level where it drops into the lower road tax band. If you read the manual it gives an alternative “comfort” setting which is about 10psi lower.

    Full Member

    I think a lot of road noise is lower profile tyres.
    We’ve a few offcuts from sheets of sticky soundproofing left from the van. Our new Leon estate is noticeable noisier in the back from tyre noise – I think I’m going to stick the offcuts around the rear wing panel and wheel arches. There’s very little in there o noticed when the towbar was fitted this week.

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