Ford Focus (98 - 04)

Used Ford Focus 1998 - 2004 review

Advice for buyers

(1998 - 2004)
Review continues below...

What should I look for in a used Ford Focus hatchback?

Compared to the current family hatchback offerings, the original Ford Focus is a relatively simple car, meaning there’s less to go wrong.

Any recall work should have been done by now. So, buy on condition and service history: if it looks like it’s been cherished then it probably has been. Ask for its service book, and check that it’s fully stamped up.

Less owners and lower mileage always count in a used car’s favour and that’s particularly true of something so inexpensive as a used Focus.

Check around the sills for signs of corrosion, and ask when the the cambelt was last changed. Some say it should be done every 100,000 miles or ten years, but many specialists recommend the cambelt is changed more frequently than that, particularly in the diesels. If it fails it could well cause expensive engine damage.

Ford Focus (98 - 04)

What are the most common problems with a used Ford Focus hatchback?

Age is the Focus’s biggest problem, with many falling into disrepair as they become uneconomical to maintain. A cambelt change can cost you as much the entire car is worth, which is why many owners take the risk and don’t bother having the work done.

If the engine light comes on with a 'code 420' then the catalytic convertor has gone. and again it’s likely to be cheaper to throw away the car and buy another one on all but the nicest, lowest mileage examples.

Electronic items are prone to failing, so don’t ignore any warning lights. Water ingress in the head and tail lights is also common and can lead to blown bulbs.

Quickclear windscreen elements are known to fail, so put an ice scraper in the glovebox for the winter.

Is a used Ford Focus hatchback reliable?

No less so than most cars of this age and price point. Usefully, there are many hundreds of thousands of them around, and pretty much every garage will be knowledgeable about them.

They’re relatively simple to work on, too, while good parts supply, both new and used, means you shouldn’t ever have trouble getting service items.


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