I bought my Focus new and have run up 130K miles. I have replace the generator/alternator and the thermostat - that's all. It is progressively getting rougher and noisier. I am suspecious of the the fuel injectors and the timing belt.
How do I figure out what is the problem really is?
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If you can put it on your self, the alternator could run from anywhere from $100.00-150.00 for a new alternator. Call your local auto part store and check the prices. It would cost alot more to take it in.
I would check to see if the catalyic converter is clogged. Drop the tail pipe at the manifold. Start and drive it for a block you will be able to tell real quick. It should run smooth and have good power. It will just be noisy. Or you could have coil problems.
The alternator is not charging the battery. Could be alternator, voltage regulator (which is usually in the alternator) , dirty/loose connections. First I would inspect all relevant electrical connections, clean & tighten. If no change -- replace alternator.
But be sure to fully charge the battery before you run the new alternator (follow alternator installation instructions).
I recently bought a used 2001 zx3 with 130k miles: 1. Ran rough as a cob. Ford has a "Safety Campaign" (not a recall) on the fuel sending unit/fuel pump. Had mine replaced for FREE at the dealer. You do NOT have to be the original owner. BUT, this is only a 10 year window on the replacement (10 years from original purchase). I squeeked in by only 4 months. Afterward car ran much better, but still sickly under 1500 rpms. 2. Replaced the fuel filter (1 hour job) and spark plugs (30 min). Fuel filter was so full of garbage it felt like somebody had put a dead rat in it before sealing it up. Plugs were fouled too. Ran even better but AC was still lukewarm at around 500 rpm (where it wants to idle at). 3. Going to clean, not replace, idle control valve. This is a tricky one because of its location- on the intake manifold next to the throttle housing. I know folks are going to scream at me about cleaning it and not replacing but it runs about $50-$150 depending on the supplier. I've read a how to on one of the focus enthusiast sites and looks like a 30 min job. Counting the can of WD-40 I already have this should cost me $0. Good luck!
Check the exhaust manifold gasket. I have a 2003 SVT Focus I had a problem with it loping at low RPMs. I had a free flow exhaust system. When I bought a new exhaust manifold I replaced the gasket and the problem went away.