The Ford Focus is a popular sedan that is perfect for every day driving. Because of this, and like many other vehicles, owners have reported common issues they’ve experienced with the 1st generation, like the transmission shuddering when shifting, windows working intermittently, or the keys getting stuck in the ignition cylinder. We cover the symptoms of these common issues, what causes these problems, and what you can do to fix them on your own 98-07 1st gen Ford Focus.
Top Issues with the 1st Gen Ford Focus (1998-2007)
1. Bad Fuel Pump
Symptoms of Fuel Pump Problems on the 1st Gen Ford Focus
These symptoms are more likely to occur in warm weather
- Engine sputtering or loses power
- Engine stops working while driving
- Hesitating and braking that may lead to engine failure after accelerating from a stop
- A check engine light might also appear with one of the symptoms above
Causes of Fuel Pump Problems
The fuel pump will stop working or decrease the amount of pressure leading to the engine. Not enough fuel pressure will keep the engine from running.
How to Fix Fuel Pump Problems
A new fuel pump is the most common solution for this issue
- Check the fuel pump driver module and confirm it’s sending the right amount of power for the fuel pump to function properly.
- Check the electrical connector for black discoloring, melting or corrosion, which indicates it needs to be replaced. If the connector is faulty, check the connector on the fuel pump since that has probably worn too. If it is worn, you can replace the electrical connector on the fuel pump, but if you’re looking to save time it’s better to replace the whole fuel pump unit.
2. Bad Motor Mounts
Motor mounts on the 98-07 Ford Focus wear out often
Symptoms of Motor Mount Problems on the 98-07 Ford Focus
- Vibration inside the cabin, especially at higher RPMs
- Loud banging, slipping, shuddering, or thudding when shifting
Causes of Bad Motor Mounts
Motor mounts can weaken from cracking or brittling over time, allowing them to loosen. When the motor mounts are loose, the engine has more opportunity for moving and shifting around, which creates a banging or thudding sound.
How to Fix Motor Mount Problems
Test the Motor Mounts
- Have an assistant press the brake pedal fully. Shift to reverse. With the brake pedal still pressed, press the gas pedal.
- Watch how much the engine rocks forward and backward. It’s expected to see the engine rock a little, and it’s a problem if the engine rocks excessively.
- If the engine doesn’t rock in reverse, shift to drive, keep the brake pedal pressed, and press the gas pedal
- If the engine moves too much, the engine needs new motor mounts
Note: For an idea of safe engine rocking, check out the video in the intro of this article, starting at 4:53.
Replace the Motor Mounts
If the motor mounts need to be replaced, purchase new ones and install them with our how-to videos. Check out 1st gen Ford Focus motor mounts at 1aauto.com.
3. Faulty Window Regulator
Symptoms of a Faulty Window Regulator
- Window works intermittently
- Window won’t roll up or down
Causes of a Faulty Window Regulator
- Dirty or clogged channels on the window regulator can cause binding when controlling the window
- Bent, pinched, or crimped cables on the window regulator
- Dirty or clogged window channels in the door
- Bad window motor
How to Fix Window Regulator Problems
- Clean any clogged channels in the door or on the window regulator
- If the wires are crimped or pinched, replace the window regulator
- Test the window motor for power. If the motor works and the wires and channels look fine, replace the window regulator.
4. Bad Ignition Lock Cylinder
Symptoms of a Bad Ignition Lock Cylinder
- Ignition key won’t go into the ignition cylinder
- Ignition key is stuck in the ignition cylinder
- Key in the ignition won’t turn
Causes of a Bad Ignition Lock Cylinder
Tumblers in the ignition cylinder line up with the channel on the key. When the key has difficulty entering, leaving, or turning the ignition, the tumblers in the ignition cylinder are failing to move or are stuck in the key.
How to Fix a Bad Ignition Lock Cylinder
Replace the ignition lock cylinder with one that has keys made for it, or replace the ignition cylinder with a new one that matches your keys. If you replace the ignition cylinder that matches a different key, you will have two sets of keys—one for the doors and one for the ignition.
5. Alternator Problems
Symptoms of Alternator Problems on the 98-07 Ford Focus
- Check engine light with code P1246
- Car dies after pressing the gas or coming to a full stop and the battery may also be dead
- After jumpstarting, the car stalls out again (after the original stall out) once the jumper cables are removed, meaning there’s a bad alternator
Causes of Alternator Problems
Alternators can fail on the 1st gen Ford Focus for a few reasons, such as an alternator pulley not turning, a cracked alternator that doesn’t charge well, faulty or split wiring, or a bad fuse.
How to Fix Alternator Problems
Test the alternator for power and if it is not working replace it with a new one. If the alternator still doesn’t work, check the wiring harness for discoloring, corrosion, or torn wiring.
Fix these and many other common problems and repairs on the Ford Focus yourself with 1A Auto’s how-to videos.
Shop 98-07 Ford Focus Parts Featured in This Article
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- 3 Reasons Your Car Shakes When Accelerating
- Why Are My Power Windows Working Intermittently?
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