The Ford Focus, an economical compact car, has had its share of problems. The most common issue appears to be with the front disc brakes and the rear wheel drum brake assembly. In many cases, these problems occur before the vehicle has been driven less than 50,000 miles.
Front Disc Brakes
Noises from the front brake assemblies have been a major complaint with the lightweight vehicle, leading some owners to assume that the wear tabs for the front brakes are rubbing against the rotor. When the wheels are removed from these vehicles, the rotors will be warped, entailing the complete replacement of the front wheel rotors. Uneven wear patterns are also found on the disc pads themselves. In some cases, the front disc pads wear quickly after only 10,000 miles of usage. Typical wear of front wheel disc pads should be at least three times the mileage in most city driving conditions.
Rear Drum Brakes
There have been at least 15 reports concerning rear wheel drum brakes. Apparently an internal nut that holds the brake drum to the rear wheel housing can come loose. This allows the brake drum assembly to fall from the vehicle while under operation. Ford has sent out 260,390 recall notices for the 2000 model year of the Ford Focus.
Other problems described by customers include leaking seals on the front and rear brake cylinders. Leaking brake fluid also damages the brake pads by soaking the material and affecting the "grip" of the pads to the metal surface. Many owners also report that the brake problems never seem to go away after the repairs are completed (see Resources). Major brake repairs often must be made after 35,000 miles of use. The best insurance in guarding against the problem is to stay on top of the brake maintenance. Inspect the brakes periodically and have the front and rear brake pads replaced as part of a routine maintenance, as the pads may wear slightly faster than brake pads on other vehicles.