View Full Version : To Buy or Not To Buy? Please help!
02-19-2003, 10:22 AM
I contemplate purchasing a "leftover" 02 SVT Focus shortly.
My current ride is an LS1 Camaro Z-28, so I wonder how much I am going to like the SVT, now that I am hooked to the raw power and solid feel of the Camaro. (Please, avoid the Chevy jokes; I have owned several Mustangs and loved them all!)
I test drove the SVT yesterday and went very softly, as the car was spanking new. I notice that its reflexes are lightning quick but I would need advice from former muscle car drivers who converted to this little front-drive; will I ever like a car such as this??? How did you go about it?
Any things I should know before I buy? Advice, caveats, and the like?
Thanks for your advice,
02-19-2003, 10:35 AM
any way you put it if you are looking for straight line power (which it seems you are accustomed to) you will not like this car. The SVT Focus is not about the 1/4 mile. However if you are interested in autocrossing or high speed touring events this will probably be the best car you ever owned in that regard.
The deals on them right now make them too good to pass up for most people. But I'd rather turn someone off to a car they won't end up liking rather than have a person buy it and then bash it cause it doesn't live up to what they were thinking.
Above all else remember, it is a high performance ECONOMY car.
02-19-2003, 12:04 PM
hes right about the 1/4 mile. but if you want something new and different, and you are into modding cars, then this car can be a good platform for that. thats why i got it. also the exclusivety of it. i wouldnt have gotten a regular focus and modded it. i was actually looking for a mustang/cobra/saleen, but couldnt find one that wasnt beaten in half. so i got this for a change. i didnt want to drive another truck, and wanted something high performance, sporty, and something i could mod. i love the 1/4 mile, but i also want to get into the auto-x'ing and test the handling and really push the car to see what it can do, and what i can do with it. you wont be able to utilize the true abilities of this car on the street, unless your insane. i will still mod until i get acceptable 1/4 mile times, but i am not all about just the straight line anymore. i guess its all about how you feel in the car. if it just doesnt feel right, i wouldnt get into it.
02-19-2003, 12:38 PM
I feel you.. I traded in my 1993 Mustang 5.0 for my SVT, and will say ive been really happy with the switch.
You have to ask yourself what exactly you want...
I myself wanted these things...
affordable (Under 19K)
Fun to drive
Good Gas Milage
I also wanted something you dont see on every street corner... something special.. Thats alot to ask when trying to buy a brand new car under 19K. I wanted the total package... not a car that does one thing great and everything else ****py or "Ok"
the Mustang left me wanting so much more... So... i started reading.. Car & Driver, Edmunds, Sport Compact Magaine, Etc etc... and the SVT Focus kept coming up #1 in Everything... Quotes like "If you only test drive one car this year, drive a SVT Focus"
I said ok, ill go check it out... and i did. Once i drove it, i knew this was what i wanted... and I got alot for what i paid... and am very very happy with the desicion.
For Under 19,000 dollars, i got:
Great Power - 170 Horses in a car only weighting 2700 pounds is nothing to sneeze at... Want more power? From what ive read the SVT responds very very well to mods... and the aftermarket for the SVT is getting pretty large and growing by the day.
Handling - Top of the line... One of the main reasons i bought the car... Handles better than any car ive ever ridden in or drove. Makes me look for winding roads and curvy streets. I plan on getting into Auto-X eventually... this is the car to have...
Brakes - Havent really tested them too much, as the car only has 700 Miles on it so far... im trying to let the brakes "Wear In" but from what i hear and have read, there also World Class.
6 Disc Cd player W/ Audiophille Sound System.
Power Windows / Door Locks
5 Year/100,000 Mile warranty
Limted Edition - Mine is number 2164 out of 4788. Bult May 16th 2002.
and Much Much more...
I gotta be honest... Thats alot of car for Under 19K... and great looks too... What more could i have asked for? The car is absolute Blast to drive.
These are ust my opinions... as i made the switch from a V8 Mustang to a Performance Compact... i dont regret it a bit.. i dont think you will eathier.
02-19-2003, 01:48 PM
I notice that you mentioned that you are "hooked on raw power" and yes the Z28 does have that I agree but keep in mind where is the Z28 and Trans Am today? Gone discontinued mothballed by GM.I will also agree wth the others that have posted about the SVTF and it is deffinately the best bang for the buck,in addition it is exclusive in the SVT family and built in limited numbers mine is #2424 out of 4788 total in 2002.Yes there will be more in 2003 as they have added the ZX5 now and expect approx. 12,000 to be manufactured.I got from my SVTF is decent performance,fuel economy and excellent handling and finally exclusivity.Keep in mind these are the pros for getting an SVTF like the others in this forum so bottom line is what are you wanting to get out of the car.
02-19-2003, 03:43 PM
Thanks guys for the reply.
The more I think of it, the more I realize what I would be missing without the Camaro:
- The knockout punch;
- The real-wheel drive;
- The great V-8 rumble;
- The solid, heavy, right on top of the transmission shifter; and
- and? I guess that's it. But that's what really made me like cars such as my old LX 5.0, GT 5.0, GT 4.6 and now the Camaro.
I just wonder if this kind of addiction can be cured and wondered how power and sound junkies got over that in consideration for this great little car that is the SVTF...
I'd like some input of a few things:
- How reliable is the SVTF? Is it sufficiently solidly built to be ran hard (and seems to be the best, if not only way to enjoy this car)?
- Did you have any problems with it?
Thanks for the info! I'll keep you posted!
02-19-2003, 04:56 PM
Sorry to say, but this car only APPEARS to be made with reasonable quality.
Give it a little time (~10K miles?), and you may have a growing pile of problems on your hands.
As much as I want to love this car, all these little screw-ups are really getting on my nerves. Get a Jap or German car, or buy a converted imported ST170 if you really want an SVTF.
SVT probably did a great job tweaking the design of the ZX3, but the car was made into a shoddy piece of **** on the assembly line in Mexico. And some of the parts are substandard.
Here is my own current list of problems:
From day one:
1. Leaky cowl... "fixed" twice... still leaks onto my floor
After a few weeks driving it:
2. Driver's side seat heater doesn't work anymore
After a few months (just recently after a bit of Winter driving)
3. Fan speed knob only works when set on "4" (full blast). On 4 I can't even hear myself think if I want to defrost so I can see the road.
4. Valves getting louder and louder like Diesel (it's not the fuel rail/injectors... I know what they sound like on this car, and that stuff is loud too)
5. Whenever I accelerate, I now hear a loud "Shhhhhhhhh!" from the engine, like I am going through water on the road. Does it every time, even with a little push. Not a CAI tube sound either, as intake plumbing is all stock.
6. Warmup takes a long time (maybe 15 minutes) if I want it to have stable revs when I head out.
7. If parked for only a few minutes (still WARM), idle is jumpy for a while when I drive it again... "Rump Rump Rump", lights dim, etc. I go to get groceries, and then hate to be slow going back through the parking lot.
There may be other stuff. Afraid to look at it any more. I also don't expect the clutch to last a long time, even if you drive it conservatively.
I pretty much take it easy on this car too.
Things that are pretty much GUARANTEED to break or malfunction early in your ownership term:
- DSI linkage and/or intake plenums break apart
- Shifter linkage gets out of wack
- Throwout bearing wears out
- Audiophile, CD's get lost in deck or jam in it
- Various emissions sensors go bad
- Seat cushion frame (might not break, but if not, will probably squeak a lot)
- MAF starts misreading
- Heat Shield mounts loosen and rattle excessively
- Accelerated Cam wear
- Factory maladjusted valve tappets get worse
- Throttle body sticks
- Cowl probably will begin to leak (and can't be fixed properly)
- Horn(s) die from water splashed up from the road
Oh boy... the list goes on...
02-19-2003, 05:04 PM
Please, tell me this guy's car is a freak!!!
Is it really that unreliable???
Man! You're scaring me!:huh:
02-19-2003, 05:39 PM
No, the stuff I listed at the top is what's wrong with my SVTF right now (by 4K miles). That's after generally taking it easy on the thing (no AutoX or Drag Racing it or anything).
The things I listed at bottom are what many people with maybe 10K to 20K miles are reporting. So expect perhaps 1/4 of those things to happen to you in that time if you own one. MORE if you drive it as advertised.
Of 3500 or so 2002 SVTF already sold, I'd say that over a thousand have been in the shop for warrenty work or to diagnose misc. troubles before the first recommended oil change. Just an educated guess.
A lot of the other owners don't get the warrenty work done, preferring to fix things PROPERLY themselves (like the DSI connector). Ford dealership techs are a mixed bag... for sure. Might get 1 good one out of 10.
That and quite a few will flat-out LIE to you about the cause/existance of a problem (i.e., "valvetrain noise? what valvetrain noise" or "your CAI caused the DSI actuator to burn up").
Frequent the many Focus SVT boards. You'll see.
Nearly everyone has multiple problems, but still love the car for some reason (like me). Fun when you get it back from the shop and all that jazz. Cost of ownership = High when you factor in time and troubles.
Reliability = Somewhat Poor
Worth it if you only paid 15K... unlike me :bash:
02-19-2003, 07:53 PM
well, i havent had most of those problems with my car. i have the cold start erratic/high idle, surging/bogging out, and all the problems that come with RLA-2. the new RLA-3 cumputer re-flash will solve these annoyances. the re-flash is due out in a few weeks. no big deal for me, as long as i know SVT is standing behind the car, researches and ocmes out with solutions, and fixes it like they are supposed to. so far, i have been treated like a King at my SVT dealer. never had such great treatment with any other car. now i could have gone in whining about my buzzing catalytic converter heatshield, but i just bought a few hoseclamps, put them together, and crawled under my car and fixed it myself. thats was another annoyance, not a problem, and it was easily remedied. other than that, i cant think of any other problems/annoyances i have had. oh yeah, my brakes squeaked a few times, but after a few hard stops, that went away. oh yeah, i heard a slight rattle which i thought was coming from the dash, but it turned out to be the moonroof. i tenderly pushed up on the moonroof, and that went away. thats it for me.
all the problems i hear about from others are usually covered under warranty, and fixed at no charge. everyone has different experiences. 'specially when its a first year run of a car. but dont try and tell me that german/jap cars dont have problems. my mother drives a honda accord, and the check engine light comes on, interior lights wouldnt turn off and blah blah blah so on and so forth. every car is succeptable to quirks.
besides the new computer re-flash, every "problem" ive had, i could fix myself.
oh yeah, cant forget about my neighbors kid driving his bicycle into the back of my hatch, and bouncing his face of it. small dent right under the back window on the drivers side. pulled most of it out with a ding king. also left behind traces of what appeared to be snot on the dent, and a small scratch on the bottom of the back bumper. **** happens
i wont really defend one car or another, because they all can have problems. i will say that i will be BULL**** if SVT ever abandoned the SVTF, and didnt come out with fixes for problems. but im not worried about that.
02-19-2003, 08:14 PM
Bordcla, my pevious car was a tank with a smog motor (73 ranhero with a 400, C6, and 3.00 gears with a weight of 4300 pounds). If your camaro is anywhere close to stock, you would've gotten your ass handed to you. That thing had too much torque for the 275's and would need 2nd gear to finally hook.
Now I own an svt focus. There are times when I miss the pure unadulterated power, but the handling, braking, and general fun factor to this car is much more fun on the street.
Sure you could push your car for 15 seconds and be well over 100mph, but it is not only stupid on the street, it is alo illegal. Now those freeway on ramps that say "25 mph" mean "no less than 50mph" for us svt focus drivers.
I am going to find an old chevy and turn it into a 9-second, almost street legal car that somehow gets dmv registration and would kill a smog stations o2 sensor with the 115 octane.:tmb:
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