Ford Focus 2012 – two years later

Fluff just had her second birthday and is approaching the 16,000 miles mark (yes, I don’t drive her much).  In honor of her birthday, I thought I’d provide an evaluation of my 2012 Ford Focus.photo(2)

But first a little background info I feel is in order to properly evaluate my comments.

A rundown of the maintenance she’s received

  • Oil changes at 6 and 12K miles (Of note is that the first “change oil light JUST came on approaching 15K)
  • Tire rotation performed at each of those oil changes
  • I did take her in for a right windshield wiper blade adjustment.  The right blade was hitting the rubber trim on the window every time I operated it.  After an adjustment, it appears to be ok now. This was an issue I noticed the first week I owned Fluff by the way.  It wasn’t a new development after use.

Driving conditions

  • Mostly “in-town” driving but at least two dozen trips on the highway to/from St. Louis at a minimum of 80 miles highway driving per trip
  • Three trips of highway driving to Chicago and back (500 miles round trip) and two trips to Indiana and back (300 miles round trip)

Gas consumption

  • She’s averaging 29-31 MPG with in-town driving which is literally me driving three miles here and five miles there – it’s primarily extremely short trips
  • Highway driving I’ve noticed numbers as high as 42.8 MPG, but she averages, I’d say 40-41 MPG.

Taking into consideration the above background, here’s my overall thoughts after two years.

What I Love about Fluff

  • Great MPG averages – Although I’m comparing that to my old 2008 Honda Odyssey which probably averaged more like 18 MPG.
  • Decent trunk storage with the seats down (considering the small size of the car and having downsized from a mini-van, I was always concerned that my Fluff wouldn’t meet my needs, but so far there’s been very few times when I had to resort to using my husband’s SUV to transport something.)
  • Still cute as a button

Areas for improvement for Ford

This is a chip in the paint just beyond the hood on the driver's side.

This is a chip in the paint just beyond the hood on the driver’s side.

  • Exterior paint – The durability of the paint is just not great. From my little travels, Fluff has numerous nicks in her hood from taking hits from road debris.  Let’s face it.  I haven’t driven her extensively on the highway so that speaks to the quality of the paint I feel.  And while I believe that the paint durability has declined on most all automobiles (my old Honda was the same way and my husband’s Buick is similar as well), with the advancement of technology, surely there’s a better option for paint durability?
  • That crazy transmission – I’ve gotten pretty good at figuring out the best pressure on the gas pedal for the smoothest acceleration; however, there’s times when I almost bunny hop from a stop. I have to admit that it makes me chuckle because it is so reminiscent of my days learning to drive my sister’s manual transmission Pinto, but seriously, I hope Ford made adjustments on 2013 models.
  • Interior carpet quality – I still realize this car is an entry-level model, but just a small upgrade in the quality of the carpet would help with wear and tear I think.  I take immaculate care of my Fluff yet the carpet is showing wear for the small amount of foot traffic she sees.

    Because the seats don't lay down flat, it makes transporting objects a bit awkward.

    Because the seats don’t lay down flat, it makes transporting objects a bit awkward.

  • Rear seat fold-down – While I love this feature to accommodate extra storage, the seats don’t fold-down completely flat which is just annoying.  For example, a set of golf clubs will fit in the trunk with the seats down, but this odd angle won’t allow for the club bag to lie flat on the seat backs.  Also, transporting boxes, or really anything flat, can create a problem when the seats are down. I’d love to see that feature tweaked a bit.  I feel that it’s just not the best design for storage and transporting things.

Even though she has some imperfections, I’d still recommend the 2012 Ford Focus!

Does your clutch chatter?

Things were going along quite well with my 2012 Ford Focus until a couple of months ago. With nearly 15,000 miles now on her, everything seemed fine until my fluffer had an odd, new noise??

There was nothing unusual about the day I first noticed it.  I was out running errands, had been stopped at a stoplight and upon accelerating from that light I heard this crazy noise.  It caught my attention, but it didn’t happen again until about a week later when I had been out and about shopping for most of the day with my daughter and her friend.  I accelerated out of a turn and “BAM!”  There it was again.

I said, “Did you hear that?”  And of course they did.

I took my fluffer the following week to the Ford dealer where I was told that the only noise the tech heard was my clutch chattering.  Say what???!

The explanation I got had something to do with the type of transmission in the 2012 Ford Focus and that noise I was hearing was my clutch making a “chatter” when I accelerated.   Hmm.

Since this is relatively a new noise, I plan to figure out how/when the car makes this noise, then I plan to go back to the dealer and have a tech ride along with me to ensure that the noise I am hearing, is the same noise he is referring to as “clutch chatter.”

I have since done a little research online and wonder if the tech was referring to a “clutch shuddering” which seems to be a fairly common complaint of Ford Focus owners.  Here’s an Edmunds.com forum of Ford Focus owners where you can read bout what other Ford Focus owners are experiencing.

I’ve also asked any passengers who happen to be along for a ride when the noise happens to help me describe the noise.  I’ve had people suggest it sounds like I’m dragging metal for a second to it sounding like metal vibrating.  It’s definitely a very unusual noise.

I’m reserving judgement for now on whether this is cause for concern or not, but I’ll be investigating it further.

Recalls for the 2012 Ford Focus

I received two letters about two weeks ago for two different recalls for my 2012 Ford Focus.  I took Fluff in last week to be serviced, and I must say, one of the recalls seems to have made some major improvement!

The first recall was for Safety Recall Notice 12S29.  Apparently a seal plug on the passenger’s side windshield wiper motor electrical connector may be missing which can allow water to get into the connector and ultimately cause the passenger side windshield wiper to stop working.

The second recall was for Customer Satisfaction Program 12B37.  I was really excited about the proposition of this fix because the letter reads that it is a “fix” for the jerky motions in the transmission.

I dropped Fluff off for her appointment at the Ford dealer and about six hours later, the two recalls had been performed as well as her oil changed and tires rotated.

It’s been about a week now since Ford fixed my two recalls, and WOW, what a difference.  The herky-jerky transmission shift from a standstill is almost non-existent.

I’m really amazed at how much better the transmission shifts are now.  Before, when I’d slow down to stop, the transmissions would automatically change into lower gears, but then if I’d accelerate before I actually stopped (think of a situation where someone in front of you is turning and you have to slow to wait for them to turn, but you don’t completely stop. That’s the situation I’m referring to) well, the car would almost bunny hop like someone driving a standard transmission who didn’t know what they were doing.  Now, after the recall adjustment, it just eases back into the higher gear seamlessly, as it should.

I’m very pleased with the difference this recall has made!

Happy Birthday Fluff!

My 2012 Ford Focus is now one year old!  With just over 7,000 miles (I know…that’s really low mileage), she’s still plugging along like a champ and I have very minor complaints with her.

Let’s take a look at Fluffer….a year in.

M.P.G. – I’m routinely seeing 27 to 29 m.p.g. in city, and it’s awesome! 

Fluff has occasionally gotten over 30 m.p.g. in city, but not very often.  Granted, I do primarily short trip, around-town driving, but I have driven over to St. Louis probably a little less than a dozen times over the last year.  That is a minimum of 40 minutes straight highway driving.   And Fluff and I drove to Indiana one weekend (three hours one-way).

Highway driving I’m seeing mid-30’s easily.  We’ve yet to top that big 4-0 mark, but, we’ve gotten 38’s consistently.  Wish I could top that 40 mark, but hey, she only was supposed to see 37 tops!  So, I’m quite happy!

The Ride – Accelerations are still a bit choppy at times from a complete stop, but I’ve figured out the proper pedal pressure to keep those odd jerky movements to a minimum.  When comparing the Fluff’s ride to say, my husband’s Buick Enclave (not a fair comparison I realize), the Fluff is a bit bumpy.  She definitely takes bumps in the road harder than the Enclave, but I guess I expect that from her because 1)she sits a whole lot lower to the ground than the Enclave and 2)I’m sure the Enclave has a much better suspension system…as she should…she cost easily twice as much.

The Exterior – Except for the scratch that someone gave me in a parking lot (you’ll hear more about that in future posts), the exterior seems to be holding up ok.  Fluff has a few rock chips in her hood, which I feel is a bit excessive, from those dozen-ish highway trips over to St. Louis.  My former Honda mini-van didn’t have a lot of hood-chips after four years of excessive highway driving.  At this rate, I think Fluff will have far more than any other mini-van I’ve owned.  Makes me a bit nervous about the quality of exterior paint.  I’ll keep a watch on this for future posts.

The Interior – Having owned more top-end, mini-vans for years, I obviously notice the lower-grade interior of Fluff, but I guess I expect that somewhat.  “You get what you pay for” comes to mind when evaluating this.  The carpet seems thinner and the interior doors seem to get marked up easier, but overall she’s still looking good.

SYNC – Admittedly I haven’t used SYNC as much as I would have liked to but that’s primarily the result of short-trip, in-town driving.  Not many opportunities to use SYNC.  When I have used it, I find it easy to use and a great added feature of Fluff.

I was rather disappointed to learn, however, that the version of SYNC that is installed in Fluff, is a version that Ford WILL NOT be making any updates for which means no possible upgrades down the road for “text-to-SYNC” from my cell phone.  I was really hoping that I’d be able to use this particular feature with a future upgrade as well as be able to take advantage of some of the cool features that newer SYNC versions will enjoy.  But sadly, it appears that this isn’t going to happen. 😦

The negatives -There’s really only two real negatives that I have with Fluff which are minor.  One, is that the rubber seals around the windows seem extremely low-quality to me.  They already look worn and sun-battered yet Fluff stays in my garage almost 9/10 of the time.  Those rubber seals just makes her look cruddy when I work so hard to keep her clean and shiny.

And…four times now, I’ve had the low tire pressure warning go off while driving.  A nice feature to have to warn drivers of tire issues, but not a warning you want to have often.  Twice the warning came on after fairly significant weather changes from cool to warm and vice versa so that made some sense.  But the last time this happened was just a week ago when the weather hadn’t changed at all.  A quick stop by the local gas station air pump revealed that the left rear tire was indeed low…again!  Might just be something up with the left rear tire because this particular one has been low each time I’ve had the warning, but it’s something that seems to be recurring which is a bit frustrating.  I may take her into the Ford dealer to see if it’s just a problem with that one tire.

Overall, a year later, I’m quite pleased with my purchase.  No car is going to be perfect, but my Fluffer is pretty darn close.  That’s what I’m seeing after a year with my 2012 Ford Focus SE!

Happy Birthday Fluff!

Let’s talk about the transmission in the 2012 Ford Focus

Note:  You should know before reading this that I’m somewhat of a perfectionist with sometimes a critical eye.  (I prefer to say I have “high expectations” of most everything.)  I’d recommend you take this into consideration when reading the following.  But I feel that if you are considering a 2012 Ford Focus hatchback for your next vehicle, you should know both the good AND the possible bad.

I’ve put off giving my thoughts about the transmission in my 2012 Ford Focus because I wanted to have a few miles under my belt before I commented.  The odometer is now approaching 1,000 so I think that’s sufficient for a solid impression.

I feel it’s important to confess that this review comes from a complete “under the hood” novice.  I don’t understand horsepower, peak torque nor fuel injection rate.  But I can tell you what the drive and handling “should” feel like, what it does feel like, and how it compares to other cars of comparable engine size that I also drove when shopping around.

At first blush, the 2012 Ford Focus has some nice “get up and go.”  It definitely has more power behind it than either the Honda Fit or Mazda 3 – both of which I also test drove.  But ever since that initial test drive of my 2012 Ford Focus, I noticed some funky pauses and hesitation in the transmission when I first pushed the accelerator down.  This odd hesitation and almost-jerkiness comes from that initial acceleration from about zero to maybe 25mph.  Having once owned a standard transmission automobile years ago, I’m equating this hesitation that I’m feeling to the transitioning of gears.

Now I don’t want to suggest that the hesitation or pauses are awful because they aren’t.  It certainly is NOTHING like the jerkiness of being a passenger with a novice, standard transmission driver, but it definitely has those similar pauses….albeit WAY scaled down.  And it’s only for the initial acceleration.  I don’t feel a thing out of the norm over 20-25 mph.

At first I attributed those hesitations to my lack of adequately transitioning from 14+ years of driving a six cylinder to now driving a four cylinder.  Afterall, my old Honda Odyssey would leap forward from a stop with very little pressure on the ole accelerator.  Let’s just say that it was never a problem to out-race most any vehicle from a stoplight to merge into an adjacent lane…something that isn’t going to happen much, understandably, with my four cylinder Focus.  But I’ve learned that there’s more to the Focus’ transmission hesitations than simply my adjustment to a four cylinder.

Since I drove the majority of my first 1,000 miles in town, I’ve had plenty of time to “play with” how I accelerate from a complete stop.

What I’ve learned is that my typical “slow acceleration” is not really what my Fluffer prefers.  She responds best to a fairly heavy foot at take off.  What can I say…she’s a speed demon.  Seriously, she would almost sputter when I’d try to just ease her from a stop, but if I “step on it” she seems to transition through the gears much smoother.

Undoubtedly this new lead-footed approach to driving is foreign to me, and I’m not sure how this approach will effect MPG in the long-run.  It’s something that I’ll definitely continue to monitor.  Currently I’m averaging around 26-27 mpg in primarily city driving.

Overall….although the acceleration from a stop can be a little fritzy at times, I can tell you one thing.  I wouldn’t trade my fluffer for the world.  It’s still an awesome little car that I’d highly recommend.

Ipod Shuffle (3rd gen.) goes for a ride in my 2012 Ford Focus

Although my SYNC phone issue with KJs mom has returned, I momentarily turned my attention to the entertainment system (i.e. Sirius, radio, and Line In for Ipods).

I took my Ipod Shuffle out for a ride this week.  My shuffle is a 3rd generation shuffle.  It’s as bare bones as they come.  It’s about the size of a very slender thumb drive and comes with two attachments – an earpiece (with a 3-position toggle control on the cord that toggles between off, play in order and shuffle) and a headphone port that also is used to for connecting to a computer’s USB port.

3rd Generation Ipod Shuffle

In order to attach an Ipod to the 2012 Focus, you need to purchase a stereo audio cable.  I bought mine for about $15 at Target.

Attaching it is as easy as plugging one end of the audio cable into the shuffle and the other end into the jack that’s located inside the center console of my 2012 Ford Focus. Turn the shuffle on, push the SYNC button and when the gal says “services” simply say “line in” and your shuffle will play.  You can also simply push the “AUX” button on your dash if you’d rather not talk to the SYNC gal.

Shuffle plugged in to Line In

 

WARNING: When you switch from Radio or SIRIUS to Line In, you will need to turn the volume up to about 10 for the sound to be heard.  BEFORE you switch it back to radio, SIRIUS or CD, remember to turn the volume back down to about a 3, 4 or 5 setting otherwise you’re about to be blown out of your car from how loud the audio will be.  For some reason line in’s volume setting doesn’t equate to the rest of the system’s audio levels.  Line In requires you to turn it up to hear it.  I didn’t even realize line in was working at first because the volume was so low.

Because I have a shuffle, it has limited controls and the SYNC system unfortunately doesn’t interact with it at all.  There’s no skipping a song or telling it to play a specific track….features that most other types of Ipods allow and SYNC would likely allow you to use.  But that’s ok.  If you’re like me, you just want to hear your own music. And I’m fairly confident that newer Ipod models and even more advanced older Ipod models will support these types of features.

The Focus also has a USB port in the center console that can be used for charging your Ipod.  Unfortunately with the shuffle that I own, I can’t charge and play at the same time because my shuffle uses its one port for all connections – either playing or charging.  You have to pick one or the other😦

Speaking of music, I also spent some time going through all the Sirius channels.  There is a plethora of them to be sure.  It’s interesting though, as I was driving around searching through the channels, I wasn’t finding a song I wanted to hear.  SIRIUS suddenly felt very reminiscent to digital cable television.  So many channels and nothing on😉

Storing favorite radio and SIRIUS station pre-sets is similar to every other vehicle I’ve owned.  Although I will admit that it took me a while to figure out how to pre-set a channel.  I laugh at myself now because I was expecting it to be a feature that I’d need to set within the SYNC system, but it’s not, and let me tell you I searched and searched for it.  But it’s as simple as find a station you like, press and hold one of the 10 channel numbers and it will tell you once the channel is set.

The radio offers 10 pre-sets (#0 through #9) for FM1 FM2, and FM3 (or 30 pre-sets total).  There are also 30 pre-sets for SIRIUS stations – 10 on SAT1, 10 on SAT2, and 10 on SAT3.

There’s also an “Auto” feature that will find the strongest radio signals in the area which will be extremely useful when traveling.

Overall, I found these features to be sufficient, and I didn’t find any problems using them…well, that is other than figuring out to turn the volume down when going between Line In and the other entertainment options!

Alas! They do make rear floor mats for the 2012 Ford Focus

Aha!  The Ford dealer was right.  Although I couldn’t find them online through the Ford website, there are indeed rear seat floor mats that fit perfectly in the new 2012 Ford Focus – 5 door.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And it fits like a glove….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

$60.72 later…I finally have some protection for the rear seat carpeting.  I learned at the Ford parts department that there’s also a floor mat available that fits the trunk area for a whopping $130.  That’s next on the agenda, but it’s going to have to wait a bit.

It sure would have been nice to have these items included with the sale price!

 

SYNC Phone issue returns but rear seat mat issue is resolved

UGH!  My SYNC phone feature in my 2012 Ford Focus is acting up again!

You will recall that my Fluffer was calling KJ’s Mom every time I asked it to call my “Mom.”   I thought I had resolved the issue by erasing the Kathy-KJ’s Mom contact from the SYNC system in my 2012 Ford Focus, but when I last called “mom” successfully, SYNC did say that this contact may reappear because “auto download” (the feature that updates the SYNC system with any changes in your cell contact list) was “on.”

Well, I suppose they tried to warn me because it is indeed back.  SYNC connects me once again to KJ’s Mom when I ask it to call my mom.  I’m thinking I now have two options:  turn auto download off and just know that I’ll need to enter any new contacts into SYNC manually or delete KJ’s Mom from my cell phone.  Can’t say I’m crazy about either option.  Gotta ponder this one some more.

The good news or quasi-good news of the day is that I called the Ford dealer where I bought Fluffer and was told that they DO make back seat, black, carpeted floor mats for the 2012 Ford Focus.  I ordered a pair for the back at the tune of $53, but if they indeed match and are carpeted, that’s a small price to pay to protect the carpeting in the back seat floor board.

The dealer called yesterday, just a day after I placed the order.  I go to pick them up tomorrow.

Phone SYNC problem resolved for now on my 2012 Ford Focus

My Fluffer Nutter is having an affair.  I didn’t even know they had met yet, but my 2012 Ford Focus has an infatuation with my daughter’s college roommate’s mother, KJ’s Mom.  I know.  How weird is that?

At first I thought it was just some technological blip when I tried to call my mom last week through Fluffer’s SYNC with My Ford Touch system and it tried to connect me to KJ’s Mom.  I had called my mom successfully several times from Fluffer the week before last.  Through a few simple commands – phone, call Mom, home – it worked perfectly before.  But through a technological blip that I can not figure out why it’s happening, SYNC has called KJ’s Mom five times now when I ask for it to “Call Mom.”

KJ’s Mom laughed when I told her to disregard Fluffer’s calls to her, but by now she has to wonder when she sees my name on her cell phone if it’s a real call or a Fluffer call.

In an attempt to solve the mystery as to why Fluffer was so enamored with KJ’s Mom instead of my own Mom, I tried over-enunciating my words and slowing them down substantially when I spoke to SYNC.  “C-a-l-l-l-l-l M-m-m-m-o-m-m-m” I said as distinctly and slowly as I could.  “Call KJ’s Mom” appeared on the screen.  CRAP!  NO!  End, END…END!!!!

Maybe I was saying it too slow or too softly, I thought.  So, I said with aggression and volume and maybe with some anger, “CALL MOM!”  “Call KJ’s Mom” appeared on the screen again!  Now I was mad! “END!!” I screamed at SYNC while pushing the “end” button frantically.

Ok, I thought.  I’ll outsmart this thing.  I’ll just change the contact name on my phone from KJ’s Mom to Kathy – KJ’s Mother.  I even added a few extra “t’s” and “h’s” in there to read “Mottttthher” just to make sure that there was no confusion.

I tried again, “Call Mom,” I told SYNC.  “Call KJ’s Mom” appeared on the screen.  What the heck?

Undaunted and determined to figure out this puzzle because let’s face it, I’m going to call mom a lot, I went online to research further.  I found on the SYNC with My Ford Touch’s website a possible solution.  The default setting for the phone service in Fluffer is set to “not automatically update” whatever changes to contacts that I’ve made on my cell phone.

A simple setting change on the SYNC system in Fluffer turns that feature “on.”  With your car on and cell phone in hand with bluetooth activated, push the “phone” button on the dash.  Then push the up/down arrows until the screen reads “Phone Settings” and then scroll to “Auto Download On”  Push the “ok” button and you’re set.

After changing this setting, I tried to call mom again, and SYNC tried to call KJ’s mom yet again.  Grrrrrrrrrrr!

I’m not one to let technology win so I decided to erase KJ’s mom from the contact list in the SYNC contacts in my car – not my cell phone.  To do that you go into Phone Settings, but select “Modify Phonebook” and then “Delete Contact.”

After deleting KJ’s Mom from the contact list, I tried to call Mom once more.  “Call Mom – Home or Cell?” SYNC asked.  Woo hoo!  Success!  “Home,” I said.  Then SYNC said, “This contact may appear again because auto download is on.  DAMN!

Well at least their relationship is on hiatus!

 

Buckle up and shoes off! The first snafu of my 2012 Ford Focus!

Is it too OCD-ish to ask everyone who rides in the backseat of my new 2012 Ford Focus to please remove their shoes?  Yah, that’s what I was afraid of, but I’m beginning to think that I may need to resort to this tactic.  Either that or I may have to limit riders to one front seat passenger only.

Yes, I ran into my first snafu with my new Ford Focus.  The car came with floor mats in the front, but there’s no floor mats in the back seat floorboard.  That’s unacceptable in my “take care of your things” mentality.

Back Seat Floor Board of 2012 Ford Focus

Thinking that a simple trip to Wal-Mart or AutoZone would resolve the problem, I headed out to both this past weekend.  With tape measure in hand (ok so maybe I have a little OCD naturally), I measured the area of the floorboard in the back seat.  Gosh, it’s tiny.  About 12.5 x 13 inches.  Unfortunately, all the floor mats I found at either place were much larger – around 13 x 18 inches or bigger.  There’s just no way those will fit properly.

Well, surely Ford will carry them online, right?  Ummm… yes and no.  They do show a floor mat in the accessories store that is an All-Weather Vinyl mat.  There’s not much of a description online for help with the details, but it appears to come in four pieces which I’m assuming would be two front mats and two rear mats.    Of course, that’s not exactly what I had in mind.  I only need the two in the back, and I really wanted carpeted ones to match the front mats – not vinyl.

You’d think, well, geez, just go online, buy some generic mats and have them shipped to your house, right?  Wrong again.  I’ve been on several websites that appear to be the larger auto accessories retailers but none of them list “2012” as an option for selecting the correct size mats for the Ford Focus.  It’s like I’m just a little ahead of my time.  My car is “too new” and they haven’t had time to adjust their website options.

I’m going to call one the online companies today and double check to see if there’s a carpeted back seat floor mat option for the 2012 Ford Focus, and then I’ll also call the Ford dealer today and ask if they have any suggestions.  I’m suddenly understanding now why there was plastic originally in the back seat floor board when we did the test drive.  Could it be that there’s no carpeted matching back seat car mats available at all?

“This car doesn’t move until you buckle up AND remove your shoes” is looking more like a possible solution……

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