Focus on Suspension

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The Ford Focus was introduced in 1998 and has proven to be extremely popular with its owners. However, it is also reported to be one of the most popular vehicle models visiting workshops for repair work. With this in mind, some wear items have been identified which are of note when repairing the suspension system.

A Look at the Front Suspension

The independent front suspension of the Focus is made up of a MacPherson strut attached to the steering knuckle and a track control arm with an anti-roll bar for stability. The anti-roll bar links, when worn, can produce a rattling noise while being driven on bumpy roads.

One of the most common wear items on the MK 2 model is the track control arm bush. (Fig. 1) This component is available as either part of the complete arm or as a separate part with new fixing bolts. When carrying out this replacement, the alignment of the new bush is particularly important. The bush needs to be aligned correctly on the shaft of the suspension arm so it can operate properly and to ensure a long life of the replacement component. The old bush can be pressed off or carefully cut off using suitable equipment so as not to damage the shaft that the bush is mounted on.

Figure 1

Once the old worn bush is removed, clean the shaft. Then, the new bush should be pressed on; there is a special tool available to maintain the alignment while the new bush is being pressed into position. (Fig. 2) The repaired arm can now be refitted to the vehicle.

Figure 2

Highlighting the Rear Suspension

The highly acclaimed control blade trailing arm multilink suspension system was developed for the Focus model. Its compact design allows maximum use of space for luggage capacity and gives excellent handing. The thin trailing arm handles fore and aft wheel locations and brake-torque reactions with three other links that are needed to fully locate the wheel. All these components have bushes that are prone to wear. The trailing arm bush, which is replaceable like the front control arm, needs to be aligned correctly during installation. The rubber will otherwise over twist and shorten the life of the bush. (Fig. 3)

Figure 3

The track control arm, which is located between the cross member and the knuckle, is prone to stress fractures which can lead to failure after a long service life. When this arm is removed to gain access to other components, such as the road spring, or when it needs replacing, the fixing bolts are prone to corrosion. (Fig. 4) This leads to the bolts shearing during removal or being seized to the bush inner sleeve. Therefore, it may be necessary to cut them off in order to remove the arm.

Figure 4

The inner bolt, which is an eccentric bolt, is for camber adjustment. It must turn freely if it is to be adjusted. It is recommended that all bolt fixings are tightened only when the vehicle’s suspension is under load and not free hanging as this puts unnecessary strain on the bushes and can lead to them being tightened in the incorrect position. When all suspension repairs are carried out, a full wheel alignment is recommended to ensure for the vehicle’s correct handling.

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