Fucus Unstable!!

I got a 1998 Focus 1.8 Zetec, 5dr, it’s a great car – only done 38K so far. The car is lately very unstable, especially on the motor ways (doing 60+).
It feels as if the tail is breaking away. I took the car to get the shocks tested – all good, check the bushes and suspension – no problem. Is there anyone out there, experience the same problem, or give me an idea as to what might cause this.
Any help will be much appreciated..
Thanks Alula
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I got a 1998 Focus 1.8 Zetec, 5dr, it’s a great car – only done 38K so far.
The car is lately very unstable, especially on the motor ways (doing 60+). It feels as if the tail is breaking away. I took the car to get the shocks tested – all good, check the bushes and suspension – no problem. Is there anyone out there, who is experiencing the same problem, or can anyone give me an idea as to what might cause this.
Any help will be much appreciated..
Many Thanks, Alula
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You didn't mention the tires. They would be suspect #1.
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Got 4x Pirelli's P6000 on, done about 3K so far. Also had the wheel allignment / tow-in etc done when I changed tires, but still the same problem.
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New tires can have defects. Since safety is involved, I suggest you find a competent professional, take them for a drive and let them experience the problem for themselves.
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I have a 2001 Ford Focus Wagon SE that does the same thing, with new/balanced tires and an ok alignment. Something about older focuses having too much rear camber, causing poor handling in the rear end. When I hit a bump on either rear tire, it pulls to that direction before jumping back. When both hit a bump simultaneously, it wiggles annoyingly. Highway driving is a chore is the road isn't perfectly smooth, and corsswinds push it around easily. A poor design. POssibly getting rear camber reduction adjustment using aftermarket shims may help.
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the ford spec for rear camber is inadequate, have your alignment guy go past spec and it will handle like a different car (but cup rear tires inside 30K as a downside)

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? My 2000 SE wagon has never done any such thing. It's the best-handling car I've had in almost 5 decades of driving.
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You're one of the lucky ones then. After a lot of reading, this seems to be a common problem, but not one that affects everyone. Considering the number of people here and on other forums who have noted the exact same problem, it is in my mind undoubtedly a very real problem.
http://groups.google.ca/group/alt.autos.ford.focus/browse_thread/thread/be97dbdfafcfd7e1/b4aae30a84148810
http://groups.google.ca/group/alt.autos.ford.focus/browse_thread/thread/3ca0a24a7a93477b/46edb27a9017d002?q=focus+unstable&rn
http://www.focusfanatics.com/forum/showthread.php?s=&threadid €566&perpage&pagenumber=1
I've owned 8 different fwd cars, from an 84 corolla hatch to a 1988 olds 88 to a 91 VW passat, and none have ever exibited this behaviour to this extent, even those that had very worn out suspensions. This is definitely something unique to the focus, at least to this degree, as noted by many people. I think the problem is enhanced in the wagon due to the light rear end relative to the hatch or sedan. The wagon may also have higher spring rates (being designed to carry stuff), further compounding the issue.
It's really too bad, because despite all the little quality faults (odd noises, poor fitting panels, numerous recalls some of which affect drivability), I like the car, and feel it definitely has a lot on most other cars in it's catagory. Plus it looks great.
I'd really like to know how many have successfully remedied this issue. At least one person noted a new set of decent tires and a good alignment shop using different specs (and probably shims to reduce the severe rear camber) managed to cure his problem.
Dave Gower wrote:

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Apparently this effect is completely "normal", and many rave about the effect. PErsonally I can't stand it. I'll take slightly reduced high speed cornering with smooth bumps over racing cornering ability and a jerky rear end.
http://forums.focaljet.com/suspension/374127-passive-rear-steer-question.html?highlight=%22bump+steer%22
Here is a very detailed description of how it works. Caveat Emptor.
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It seems that most of the replies was from Focus Wagon owners -- I have the Hatchback (5 door) UK Version, from new.
If this is a known problem, why did it only start a few months ago? I use the car, everyday for the past 38K miles, and only from the last 3K the car starts with this 'fish tailing'.
Another thing I notice, and this was from new, is the suspension makes a lot of notice, like a coil spring resettling. According to the dealer, tire shop and local garage there is nothing wrong, and this is normal - I'm not convinced!!
Please, if anyone got any ideas, suggestions, let me know, and would love to get this sorted...
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my canadian 03 zts sedan did it as well untill the alignment was tweaked, been great since

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Just been thinking...Have alook at the rear springs- there were some early cars that left dealers (in the UK) with the transit-brackets still in place- effectively giving no springing at all.
Otherwise I havent a clue. Your focus should drive straight as an arrow and feel very stable and planted under all conditions.
Tim..
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Which is when you got the new tires. The problem is probably with the tires themselves (balance?) or the adjustments that were done when you bought them. Take your Focus to a different shop and have them check it out with a high speed road test.
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Come to think of it, I do remember a friend who several years ago rented a Focus during a trip, and when he got back complained about its handling. When I questioned him, he did admit that in fact it took corners and responded to inputs very well. It's just that he was addicted to 70s Cameros and wanted that solid feel he was used to, and felt insecure without it.
Myself, I first test drove a Focus in November 1999. I was driving by the dealer, saw the sign "see the new Focus" and dropped in simply out of idle curiosity. I'd never owned a Ford in my life, and didn't like the Escort at all, based on a couple of friend's cars. My tester was an absolute stripper, but I completely fell in love with the handling. I knew right then I'd be buying a Focus the next spring. And I've still got it. It's just too good to trade, and I enjoy driving it as much as I did that first day. And it still looks great in my driveway. By the way, the paint still looks like brand new after 6 Ontario winters, and it's never seen wax.
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There is something seriously seriously wrong with your Focus. I've just finished a 70k mile 'love affair' with one, run almost exclusively on P6000's, and it was utterly stable at even silly speeds in all circumstances.
Are you sure this car has not been in an accident?
Tim..
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I am SO glad its not just my focus!!!! 2001 5dr 2.0 hatch uk.
Hope my story can give you an insiders insight..........
I work for ford in a bodyshop in Essex and part of my job is to do geometry checks and adjustment after accident damage.
I 'geo' a focus on average once a week and they are normally all in tolerance on the rear and just need the front toe adjusting from day to day driving. The final part of a geo check is to road test the car where they ALL drive brilliantly.
Apart from my focus that is..........
The steering wheel on it was wonky when I brought it (about 11 o' clock) and was crying out to be done. The car drove OK with NO twitching at all before adjustment. Once on the geo machine all the cambers where ok but the rear toe's where facing left and the front toe's where facing right. After a lot of swearing I managed to get all 4 within spec after finding out the rear inner lower arm adjustment bolts where seized in the bushes and would not turn properly which I see fairly often on higher mileage cars.
Well that was it...... after all where showing up within tolerance on the geometry computer and the steering wheel was finally straight the car now REALLY badly jumps on the rear when it hits a fairly hard bump in the road! its driving me MAD!
Has anyone worked out how to cure this?
all I can think it is on my one is the inner bushes possibly twisted and causing abnormal bush action upon bump/rebound - caused by the inner part of the bush being seized to the adjustment bolt and turning with it. that's why I put copper grease on the new parts fitted on focus rear suspension but I cant get my bolts out to grease them as they are seized solid.
I asked the master technicians in work and they have not heard of this!
HELLLLLPPPPPPPP!!!!!
Thanks!
MC.
www.ffoc.co.uk aka FocusGhia2L
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Well, it appears that the passive rear steer function is linked to flexing links and a soft bushing delaying the flex effect. The result is rear toe-in during turns to help with accomodating the thrust angle. The same toe-in occurs during bumps, momentarily adjusting their tragectory. Supposed to be normal - it's not a problem at lower speeds, but at highway speed on bumpy/rough roads it is not fun and leads to excessive wander too.
I measured my rear camber, and the left side is an astounding -2.3°, the right a still high -1.43°. The front has -1.18° on the left, and -0.75° on the right. Weird. There is a newer control arm that is used to reduce this camber by a degree. Also camber bolts can help. Whether the camber is primarily responsible or not I don't know, but it doesn't help. I will get the new parts on, and have it aligned to accomodate a mostly highway driven lifestyle. I'll let you know what happens. I suspect the toe will be more of an isue here.
I'd check out focaljet.com and focusfanatics.com. I've found a lot of good info at these places
Good luck!
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CHECK YOUR WHEELS for cracks between lug nut holes.. I ve had to replace 2 of them, I replaced them all.

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