Project SVT Focus Gets Caught Up on Maintenance

Update by Tom Suddard to the Ford SVT Focus project car
Jun 21, 2017

After our latest rallycross adventures, our project Focus was due for some much-needed maintenance.
We've mostly been working on this car on jack stands, but a lift definitely makes for easier axle replacement.
We were leaking a little coolant. The culprit turned out to be the plastic temperature sensor housing.

We wrapped up the last rallycross in our dual-purpose commuter with sore backs and an obvious next step: find better spring rates for our SVT Focus. Our BC Racing coil-overs had given us the extra ride height and body control we needed, but the included springs were clearly aimed at a lowered track day car rather than a lifted rallycross champion.

We’ll need to investigate some different spring rates, but before we do so, we need to (once again) rehabilitate our Focus. Rallycross is tough on a car, especially one like ours with almost 260,000 miles. We ordered some fresh parts and dove back under the hood.

The first item on our to-do list was the most difficult: replace both of our Focus’s axles. This isn’t a particularly difficult task with only a jack and jack stands, but using a borrowed lift definitely made the job easier.

Our Focus’s old axles looked fine on the outside, and the CV joint boots weren’t torn or damaged. However, we knew it was time to replace the CV joints because they were making a horrible clicking noise when turning. That’s a surefire sign these joints are worn and sloppy. Sure enough, once we removed both axles we could feel the slop with our hands.

Replacement axles aren’t very expensive—we scored brand-new ones for just under $100 total—but they can be a pain to install. Thousands of miles of hard use had rusted together our axle and hub splines; to break them free, we alternated between an air chisel and a giant hammer.

Why didn’t we just rebuild our old axles with new CV joints? These days, it’s almost always less expensive to replace the whole assembly. Once you factor in the time and potential for messing something up, replacing just the joints very rarely makes sense.

Next we tackled our Focus’s habit of losing coolant. After poking around under the hood with the engine running, we discovered a small trickle of coolant coming out of the temperature sensor housing when the car was hot.

We weren’t sure what exactly was leaking coolant, so we ordered a new housing and gasket just to be safe. We figured that while we probably didn’t need the housing, it made sense to spend the $30 to replace our 260,000-mile plastic part.

Once we had everything apart, we found the real culprit: The O-ring on the temperature sending unit was leaking. We found a new O-ring and reassembled everything.

That left one final mechanical fix: Our Focus was due for another oil change, so we treated it to a dose of Lucas Oil and a K&N filter.

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