FocusHacks Home Home
All Hacks

Zetec Engine
SPI Engine

Detailing and Cleaning


FocusHacks is a site with instructions to help you improve your Ford Focus. Here you'll find step-by-step instructions for working on your Focus, from performing regular maintenance to installing high-performance Ford Focus parts and accessories.
Use the menu on the left to start looking at the Hacks, or search to find what you're looking for. If you would like to write a hack, or have an idea for a FocusHack you'd like to see in the database, let me know!
Feeling thankful? Drop me a line and tell me your war stories, or donate via the menu option on the left (whatever amount you feel is fair!) to help keep FocusHacks online.
Disclaimer: You assume any and all responsibility for injuries, property damage, voided warranties or problems that result from following instructions outlined here. By Continuing, you agree to hold FocusHacks staff harmless.

Latest FocusHacks News:

FocusHacks mobile site

I've been thinking of ways to make FocusHacks a little easier to use for those of you who visit the site on a mobile phone or tablet. I have set up a mobile version of FocusHacks as a test.
If you're browsing the site with Android or iOS, several parts of the site might prompt you to load the mobile version. I've given this version of the site some more responsive features and tried to make parts of the site easier to read on mobile devices.
The mobile navigation is handled via a toggle-menu that pops out at the top of each page. This should make room for the text and graphics on smaller displays. As always, let me know if something isn't working right.
In a few days, I'll probably set up automatic redirects for mobile browsers.

Web redirects

For a while, links to FocusHacks have been a mixed bag of and (without the www). Both work fine, but links with www are far more common. I've set up redirects from to to simplify reporting and standardize links to the articles here.

On a personal note, I prefer not using the www prefix when possible, however given that most search engines have indexed the site mostly as, I went with that host name instead.

Both names should still work, but you'll be redirected if you try to visit most parts of this site without the www prefix.

Unplanned server migration

Our previous web host had become increasingly unreliable and announced that they were shutting down their web host ing operation. This forced us to find a new home for FocusHacks. Hopefully, we're done with that mess for a while. Our next planned maintenance will be for so ftware upgrades on May 7th or 8th, 2016.

Ford Focus ECU fuzzing at DEFCON 23 Car Hacking Village

GRIMM demonstrates the use of Intrepid Control Systems' Vehicle Spy software suite to automatically fuzz test the ECU with unpredictable, invalid or randomly-generated test data. To the right, you can see that the gauge cluster and multi-function display isn't quite sure what to do with the data. This kind of testing methodology can help curious tinkerers better understand the data on the CAN Bus and may uncover problems or vulnerabilities within integrated automobile control systems that might rarely if ever manifest themselves during manual testing, observation or reverse-engineering.

Pardon our dust

You may have noticed the site being a bit flaky over the past few days. I just finished upgrading pretty much everything that runs the site behind the scenes. For the nerds in the crowd, that means we're now live with OpenBSD 5.7, MariaDB 10.0.16, PHP 5.6.5 and OpenBSD's new web server. Things should be back to normal now. If not, contact me: webmaster (at) FocusHacks (dot) com.

MkIII Steering wheel trim problem

I experienced this a few months ago, and I've seen some grumbling on the forums. Looks like this is a common issue on 2012 (and perhaps 2013) Foci:

The fix isn't perfect, but it's easy, and keeps the damage from spreading further.

FSWerks ECU Tuning for Ti-VCT coming soon?

... it has begun! FSWerks has already been tuning the new Focus ST, but yesterday via Facebook, they announced that they're in search of volunteers in the Anaheim area with stock or lightly modded MkIII Foci with the Ti-VCT engine. That's awesome news for us. My 2000 ZX3 is not heavily modified, but having FSWerks tune my ECU was the best bang for the buck out of all the things I've done. Not only did it seem to awaken the beast within, but I also see significant fuel economy improvements when I drive it gently and keep it full of premium fuel.

I'm very interested to see what the talented guys at FSWerks can pull off with premium fuel on an otherwise stock Focus. The owner's manual states that Premium fuel (read: 91 or 92 octane) "... will provide improved performance" and in my experience, it barely lives up to that. I had also expected an improvement in fuel economy with normal driving, which never really happened while I experimented with a few tanks of various fuel grades.

Personally, I'd also like to see what kind of sorcery they can work on the non-SelectShift version of the PowerShift DCT6, specifically when it shifts related to throttle position. As I'd mentioned previously, I wouldn't be too torn up if FSWerks could somehow make stability control go bye-bye with an ECU tune.

Website Maintenance, March 2013

The site will be down for maintenance a few times this week. For the nerds in the crowd I'm upgrading from OpenBSD 5.0 and Apache to OpenBSD 5.2 and nginx, but it'll be performed in two phases. Expect a few hours of outage in the evening hours (US Central Standard Time) tonight and probably one other night this week.

In Focus: Torque Vectoring and Stability Control

All MkIII Foci come with AdvanceTrac®, Ford's Anti-Lock Braking and Electronic Stability Control system. They also come with traction control and torque vectoring. I wanted to wait to write about all these traction-enhancing goodies until after I had a chance to properly test them in one of my favorite environments. I got that chance this morning.

Traction Control

Traction control will override the throttle when the drive wheels lose their grip while accelerating. On dry pavement, my Focus can't break the traction in a straight line, but on wet pavement, snow and ice, it really shines. It's still possible to get stuck in a situation where you can't take off from a stop on ice and snow, such as on an uphill, though. Traction Control can be disabled in the dashboard menu, under Settings > Driver Assist.

Anti-Lock Brakes

Everyone knows what anti-lock brakes are, I think. If a wheel locks up while braking, ABS will quickly pulse the brake on that wheel. This is safer, more effective and stops quicker than a person can stop trying to modulate and pump brakes without ABS. ABS can control each brake independently, while a driver is left to modulate all four brakes at once. ABS is at the heart of AdvanceTrac® Electronic Stability Control and Torque Vectoring.

Torque Vectoring

Torque vectoring will modulate the brake on a drive wheel if only one of them is losing traction. This typically happens during hard acceleration and hard cornering (understeer). It can also minimize the sensation that the car's trying to pull to one side or the other when you really get on it. While it's not as efficient as a real limited slip differencial, it does a satisfactory job emulating the same functionality: transferring the engine's torque to the wheel with the most traction. It works hand in hand with the traction control feature to improve acceleration and cornering performance.

Electronic Stability Control

Electronic Stability Control actively applies brakes independently if the system senses oversteer, understeer or loss of control that can't be countered by Torque Vectoring or Traction Control. The driver is most likely to notice this while cornering on surfaces with reduced traction, or while aggressively cornering under normal conditions. The brakes engage even when the driver is not depressing the brake pedal, and the car is noticeably slowed and stabilized. If you begin to enter a sideways skid, for example, the front inside and rear outside brakes will be modulated, and the car will right itself within the limits of traction available to the braking system. There is no performance gain from this system. It is only there to correct a condition where the car's traction limits have been exceeded due to road conditions, evasive maneuvering or a driver simply expecting too much of the car through a corner.


My 2000 ZX3 has none of these things, and I feel that the driving experience of my older Focus is very pure and unfettered because of it. One of my favorite things about driving my ZX3 is its insatiable appetite for lift-off oversteer, and the ease of which said oversteer is controlled. If a little front wheel drive hatchback from more than a decade ago could be considered a "driver's car," the base model ZX3 lacking AdvanceTrac® would surely earn the label. With the addition of all this technology, the new Focus seems a bit more conservative and grown up, and in my opinion, not as fun to goof off in. What it lacks in "hoon factor," though, it amply makes up for in driveability in bad weather and overall safety; and where I used to cringe at torque steer in the ZX3, the new Focus will make a very valiant attempt at laying rails on every corner until you try to push it too far.

Comments Enabled

I have been using Disqus on some other sites to make commenting easier. I disabled the built-in comments with the re-write at the beginning of this year. They never really did work right. You'll also notice front page blog entries get their own individual pages. Comments are enabled on blog entries and hacks. Enjoy!

Existing Focus owners can look into auto refinancing as a way to help cut down the monthly costs of their loans.
Instructions found on this site are provided as-is. You automatically accept the terms of's disclaimer by using, distributing, reading, or talking about instructions found here. The Disclaimer is on the front page of
Powered by OpenBSD: Free, functional and secure!