Good news (for a change) from Consumer Reports

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People on this newsgroup have been saying for quite some time that the Focus's reliability problems were mostly confined to the early models. Now, Consumer Reports agrees with them. The reliability ranking for the Focus
SVT has climbed to average, allowing the magazine to recommend the car.
The news comes in the December 2003 issue, which has a test on competing sports cars like the Subaru WRX and Mitsubisihi Evo. The SVT wasn't tested, but was recommended based on past performance, and the newly average reliability. The magazine didn't say if the reliability applied to all Focus models or just the SVT.
Why the change of heart? I think it took some time for people to by 2002 models and report their long-term reliability to CR. From the magazine's standpoint, it makes sense to play it conservatively until the survey results clearly show improvement.
--
Benjamin Robinson snipped-for-privacy@freenet.tlh.fl.us
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Hence, my rule of thumb. When a new car comes out, give it 1-2 years before all the glitches are ironed out. Like the H2 has horrible build quality, but I'm sure it'll get better over time (then again, it's a GM :-x ).
Mojo

decide
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I've read CR for years and always detected a thread of bias and even anti-american-ism. Nothing outwardly obvious, but there. Apparently others share my suspicions:
http://www.allpar.com/cr.html
http://www.consumeralert.org/fumento/smoke.htm
http://www.umich.edu/~newsbias/institutional.html
When I set out to purchase a vehicle, I instead went to the newsgroups and web message boards via Google search and found plenty of complaints from real people about cars with so-called bullet-proof reliability according to CR and others. I found that no car can escape the wrath of 'real people' like us who speak from their own experience.
Focus had it's share too, but I l just enjoyed test driving it over the others. (Neon, Mitsu. Lancer, Saturn SL2, Geo Tracker, Olds Calais, 2003 Mybuttsuc Earth Destroyer, etc.)
If owners treat their cars with care and respect rather than beating the life out of it and blowing off needed mainenance, they will be rewarded with good service.
My Focus was "elderly owned" which tipped the scale for to make the final decision to pick it over the others. My suspicion was that it was treated like my Grandma's sofa which spend it's whole existence covered in clear plastic. :-)
John
-------

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Now,
Too bad Consumer Reports can't do something about it's own quality problems - like, confine themselves to things they know something about, such as toasters.
Consumer Reports is the public relations organ of Consumer's Union - a consumer advocate's group with an anti-corporate tradition. It has to be read in that light. There's nothing wrong with advocacy groups - they're a basic part of democracy. The problem is when they mask themselves as objective research organizations.
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The funny thing is that the European spec. German-built Focus is considered to be one of the more reliable cars on the road, including the cars from our Japanese friends. It won the 2002 TÜV award in Germany for the most reliable car between 1 & 3 years old. The moral of the story is to stay away from Mexican-built Fords.
Gary
--
Two vultures board an airplane, each carrying two dead raccoons. The
stewardess looks at them and says, "I'm sorry, gentlemen, only one carrion
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considered
our
reliable
Begs the question: If German-built Focus is considered to be one of the more reliable cars on the road, then how does it compare to the American built version?
Ron
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. . .The moral of the story is to stay away from

So how can I tell if mine was built in Mexico or Mich.? By the VIN? a partial would be:: 1FAFP33P6YW4xxxxx
I'm sure there's a web source out there for VIN decoding, Anyone know one?
John
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John Doe wrote:

From the 2000 Focus service manual pages 100-01-3 thru 100-01-7:
1FA = Ford Motor Company USA Passenger Vehicle F = Active Belts (all positions) and front air bags P = Passenger vehicle, Ford North American vehicles 33 = LX 4 door, body code LX4 P = 2.0 liter SPI engine the ninth position is a check digit Y = 2000 model year W = Wayne, Michigan assembly plant
positions 12 through 17 are the production sequence number
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Don't even start that here - I had a 2000 wagon that was built in Michigan. Ford had a different way of building them here and it caused quality controls problems AT FIRST. I had over 9 recalls - a new transmission at 11,000 miles and a burnt out horn so don't even say anything about Mexico as I had friends that had cars built there with little problems. Ford got their act together but Consumer Report held them out to hang for 3 model years before finally conceding they cleaned up their rating. I've had friends and family with 2001 and 2002 Focus with (GASP) NO Recalls!! I cancelled my subscription and told them I'd never get it again as they have an elitist attitude...and a basis aganist American made. Quality is made in the US. Enough from me as I have to sleep tonight and I'm just getting pissed. Linda 2003 ZX5
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Yes I'm answering myself because I do want to respond to that too...I've heard great reports regarding the German build quality. They have a different build procedure than we do here - my understanding is they cheaped out on USA version to our regret. I'm sure some others here could fill you in here...I have a link to an article somewhere if you're interested let me know and I'll post it. Linda ZX5 '03
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Mark: Thx 4 the info. and Linda: ditto,
Since I was a little kid when the Ford Mustang commercial first aired, I think it was during the Ed Sullivan show, I was in love with cars. My teenage boys are impressed with how close I can pinpoint a car's year at old car shows.
Back in the 60's, "foreign cars" were considered weird and unreliable. Hard to get parts for. Now they threaten to undermine the last vestige of my growing up years.
Damn
John
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Agreed!
Poor quality of early Foci in the US is probably more a design issue than a manufacturing one. Although I've never seen a European Focus, my guess is that Ford did indeed cheap out on the American version, since it's aimed at the bottom of the American Ford food chain. I believe Ford was after a different market in Europe, one that will pay a little more for a small car of decent quality than we Americans. A lot of us (well, not us in this group, obviously!) equate value with size. If it's small it's not worth much. In contrast with the US Ford lineup, in the UK, the Focus is far from the bottom.
So, to get more product life out of the Focus - which is about to be replaced in Europe with a new platform as I understand - it was brought over here as an economy model. And, perhaps to save it from the bad rep it's had in the US, is about to be reincarnate it as the Mazda 3.
Ford's greed probably has more to do with quality problems of the early American Focus than who builds it. They placed it at the bottom of the product line, and changed the design to cut costs.
And that's where Ford shot itself in the foot. They took a very good car in the European market and messed it up (the early models) designing cheapness into it. And they've paid dearly for it. To wit, mine had a new list price of somewhere around $14k or $15k, but at a year old, cost me only $9k with 20k miles. Not much of an endorsement in the public's eye! But I love it!
P. S. When you compare a Focus to Chrysler's or Toyota's or GM's low-end offering, Ford appears to have blundered its way into producing a very good car for their low-end market.
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I am a US citizen having traveled to Europe several times, and I must say that is where I fell in love with Ford's Focus and the Ford Ka. I later came back to the US to find out it was not here -- yet. Later, Ford released the Ford Focus -- like the Ford Ka would have ever made it over here -- from Europe... and I bought mine right away. All decked out at $14,500 brand new, I don't know if that is the "bottom of the American Ford food chain," but I would say its a big step-up from the Fiesta.
-- Best Regards, Rhett Saunders

too...I've heard

build
version
a link

it.
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Actually it was a fault of Ford management to discipline the suppliers. This was a result of two factors, as I understand it 1) rushed production schedule and late spec changes and 2) more importantly, they had a policy of involving suppliers as partners in the design process. Sounds very good in theory, but in practice what some suppliers did was use the opportunity to cut quality and raise profit margins.
This makes sense when you think that most problems were in non-Ford components (fuel senders, ignition keys, windshields, trim, latches etc.)
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In alt.autos.ford.focus, on the "Re: Good news (for a change) from Consumer Reports" thread, lost in space wrote:

Yep. The next-gen Focus, Volvo S40, and new Mazda 3 will all be based on the new Focus platform. I saw an early-production Mazda 3 at a car show today and was favorably impressed.

An article I read noted that Ford tried to juggle too many variables at once: New car, new production line, new engine (well, the Zetec was new in North America, anyway). That's not a recipe for top reliability.
--
Benjamin Robinson snipped-for-privacy@freenet.tlh.fl.us
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2001
told
(bias) aganist American made.
I stopped reading them 20 years ago. They definitely have such a bias but really the problem is so does the members and staff of their parent organization (Consumer's Union) and more relevant to automobile ratings in Consumer Reports, so do their readers (it's a self-selection process, if you like Camries you are comfortable with the magazine). So when they take their "scientific" polls among readers guess what wins, the imports of course.
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Dave Gower wrote:

They are heavily biased. They are still involved in a law suit with Suzuki and I believe Isuzu for their so called methods of testing to determine rollover tendencies. The suit alleges CU designed the tests with the desired results in mind. It is also alleged that lawyers paid CU to conduct the tests in their favor to support lawsuits against the manufactures.
JD Power & Associates seems to be less biased but I really haven't paid much attention to any commercial ratings organization.
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In alt.autos.ford.focus, on the "Re: Good news (for a change) from Consumer Reports" thread, Dave Gower wrote:

I never really bought that argument. I'm looking at car section of CR's year-end Buying Guide. No fewer then 27 domestic cars, in all categories, earned a "recommended" rating. (I didn't count cars like the Toyota Matrix, which are sold under a foreign nameplate but made in the United States.)
Also, there's a surprising uniformity of opinion between Consumer Reports and the enthusiast press, which often claims to have the anti-CR. (Well, Car & Driver claims this, at least.) Among family sedans, Consumer Reports likes the Honda Accord, Toyota Camry, and Volkswagen Passat. Car & Driver, on the other hand gave high ratings to, uh, the Accord, Camry, and Passat. CR recently gave a BMW 5-series (the one right before the newly-redesigned model) it's best score ever. Now try and find an enthusiast magazine that doesn't like BMW.
Also, this is kind of anecdotal, but my father used to steadily buy domestic cars, trading in every three or four years. Their build quality seemed to bottom out around 1980, and then steadily improve from there. That matches up with just what CR -- and the rest of the car press -- has been claiming. but

I concede the reliability reports aren't flawless. The respondents are self-selecting, as you point out, and if an automaker makes a dramatic change in quality (better or worse), it can take a long time for the data to reflect this. But I think they make a useful approximation of reliability for the car you're considering.
Besides, now the Focus is on top -- where it should be.
--
Benjamin Robinson snipped-for-privacy@freenet.tlh.fl.us
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Benjamin Robinson wrote:

One look into the lawsuits CU is involved in over the past several decades will easily show the bias and why. Suzuki and Isuzu are both involved in a suit against CU now. They are definatly biased. It's how they make money.
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The proper word for it is:
PROPAGANDA
I learned about that word in Social Sdudies class and have applied it to many thing ever since.
If the shoe fits . . .
John
------------

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