Ford Focus brake problem follow up

Hello. A few months ago I posted a message about a problem with my Ford Focus SE having intermittent brake problems. I figured it might be beneficial to some to hear how things ended up. It doesn't look
like I can post a follow-up to the original thread, so I started a new one. Here's a link to the original post if anyone is interested:
http://groups.google.com/groups?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&threadm 8d5398.0304140421.317573c3%40posting.google.com&rnum=1&prev=/groups%3Fhl%3Den%26lr%3D%26ie%3DUTF-8%26q%3Dauthor:tbecker%2540classm.net%2B
To summarize, about four or five times between the months of January to May, I experienced temporary brake failure. It started when it was very cold. The car had been parked over night one very cold night. There was a hissing sound as I pressed down on the brake pedal. It was very hard to stop the car as I turned around in the street. After the first time I braked, the problem went away. It happenned 1 or 2 more times after that (but with no hissing sound), spaced out by a 4-5 weeks each time. Then one day I was leaving my work parking lot, I couldn't stop at all! Again, after letting up and re-applying the brake, the car stopped fine. Took it to the dealer three times after that to try to get it fixed. Each time, they could not duplicate the problem. The most they would test it for was three or four days at a time. They kept saying the same thing - that if they couldn't duplicate the problem, they wouldn't even touch the car or try to repair it. Called Ford customer service directly and they said the same thing.
At first I had thought this problem was related to the cold. As the weather warmed up, I figured I would be safe through the spring and summer. Then, the problem happenned to my wife, as she was driving down a hill! Fortunately, she was able to stop after pressing the brake again. Took it back to the dealer again and again they drove it for a week and found nothing. One guy actually told me to "just drive it"! They refused to even attempt to repair the car.
Well, after that I contacted the Attorney General's office (New York State). I submitted a new car, lemon law arbitration request. It got accepted (we had to pay a $250 filing fee) and about a month later, we had an arbitration meeting. The rep from Ford didn't even contest anything, just pointed out a minor technical mistake I made with the documentation. The arbitor decided in our favor, and today we brought home a new Focus.
So everything worked out fine in the end. I am confident that the problem was with the particular car that I was unlucky enough to get and is not a widespread problem with the Focus line. I don't expect to have the same problem with this new car. Every person I know who has a Focus is happy with it. However, it really puts a bad taste in my mouth toward Ford. There were a number of possible reasons for the brake problem suggested by people in my original thread. It upsets me that the dealership refused to even try a repair attempt and was perfectly happy to let me drive away with an unsafe car. It makes me wonder even more that the Ford rep didn't even make a case for not replacing the vehicle during the arbitration meeting. All he did was request to test drive the car (which I let him do) and pronounced that it was fine. I offerred to settle for having the braking system replaced, but he didn't want to. I'm still scrathing my head over the whole thing. Was the rep just going through the motions and actually doing me a favor? Why couldn't someone at Ford look at the case and make a decision to replace the car? Is this way of doing business really the most cost-effective for Ford? Instead of paying about $1000 to replace the braking system, they paid over $10,000 to replace my car. Oh well...we picked out a 2003 ZTS which is nicer than the old one.
Free advice for anyone going into lemon law arbitration - make sure you have copies of the original work orders for each time you brought in your card. I brought in a work history log which had two of the work orders on it, and there was some question as to whether that was sufficient. Seems like common sense to me now, but at the time I thought it would be less complicated. Also make sure that whatever organization you go through for the meeting sends you a instruction booklet about the lemon law.
Last thing, I asked the salesperson, as we were picking up the new car, what they would do with the old car. He said they would probably sell it at an auction. I don't know if he was right or not, but that scares me a little. I know it would probably be sold "as is" and that probably it's history would be made available to anyone who is buying it, but I don't know. The car is in perfect shape (other than the defect) and I can see someone just taking it home and driving it thinking there is nothing wrong. So, here's the vehicle ID, just in case of the remote possibility someone does a google search for it.
1FAFP34P52W232632
If anyone wants to ask me anything about it, email me at tbecker4 "at" nycap "dot" rr "dot" com
Thanks for letting me unload!
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Really valuable post tBecker. Thanks. This is off topic but I had the opposite experience with a tire dealer here in Arizona recently. My wife had a flat in her Focus. She drove it to a local tire dealer and the guy told her she needed to buy a new tire and that it would be wise to replace both (front) so she said OK. While doing the job the guy came out and told her that the back tires were shot and should be replaced. Thinking she was being scammed she refused. The guy found two used tires which look to be all but brand new, balanced and mounted both at no charge. Just said he was uncomfortable having here drive around on bad tires. I wrote a letter of appriciation. Service like that goes a long way. Sounds like your Ford dealer needs a lesson. jor

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