2000-2004 Focus SPI Buildup Tips

 There are some easy quick and reasonably inexpensive modifications that can be done to most cars to improve power and fuel economy. These should be done first on any build-up and is a good way to make you car run better without getting into the inside of the engine.

You should always use premium grade fuel. Any detonation is bad for the engine. All Focus vehicles have a knock sensor. The computer retards the ignition timing whenever it detects any spark knock or detonation, long before you can hear it. This has a very negative effect on both power and fuel economy. By using a high octane fuel, you're guaranteed that your engine is running as efficiently as possible.

Check to make sure your throttle blade is opening all the way This is overlooked by a lot of people. With the engine off, remove the air induction hose from the throttle body and then have someone push the accelerator pedal to the floor and hold it there. Look at the throttle blade in the throttle body. It should be rotated to 90 degrees from the direction of the airflow. If not it may be a fault of the operating cable or the manual stop on the throttle body itself. If it doesn't open fully, then you aren't getting full throttle power. Take whatever steps necessary to correct this problem if it exists.

The bottom end of the SPI engine is reasonably strong for street use. Limiting the engine speed to 6,500 rpm, it should last. We have never had a lower end failure on a street engine running it no harder than this. Keep in mind, detonation will kill any engine.

One of the first things you should do is remove any restrictions to flow inside the air cleaner assembly. Then replace the element with a high flowing washable oiled cotton/gauze filter. They have double the flow capacity of new paper filters, and will outflow a new paper filter even when dirty. Most vehicles have a silencer built into the air box someplace. This is usually a restriction along with some expansion chambers. These fit and work very well in the nearest trash can. There is minimal noise reduction at full throttle but the air restriction kills power and acceleration.

Better lubricants are necessary in any performance vehicle. Synthetic lubricants are far better than most mineral based lubes. They provide better cold weather flow qualities, much less friction, and don't break down from excessive engine heat nearly as much. Thinner oils reduce pumping losses and reduce drag in the engine. They are fine in most cases. For economy, a 5w20 synthetic will work well. For engines run hard or that have a lot of miles and wear, you may need something a little heavier like a 5w40 grade. Always use a premium oil filter. Ford filters are very high quality and that's all we ever use.

A good start for modifications would be the 50% underdrive pulley, #1H6U82C, It reduces the parisitic drag from the belt driven engine accessories and allows more power to be delivered to the drive wheels. It also makes a noticable increase in fuel economy. These gain the most performance you can get for the money, and will pay for itself in fuel savings. We also offer a 25% reduction pulley. They are especially useful while using the air conditioning. You no longer will feel the car slow down every time the a/c compressor cycles. There are no real dowside to using a UDP. They will pay for themselves in fuel savings alone. 

Our SPI Controller is another way to gain some quick, inexpensive power. This unit controls the high-speed runners in the cylinder head. The factory setup uses small runners for gains in low rpm torque and fuel economy. There are larger secondary runners for high rpm power and they are controlled by a set of throttle blades in the head. The factory has these set up to only open above about 3,500 rpm and then to open very slowly taking a full 5 seconds to reach wide open. This kills performance. With our kit, the secondary runners open as soon as you depress the accelerator pedal all the way and the throttle blades open in less than 1/2 second. This really makes a lot of difference when you kick into passing gear or need to accelerate quickly. Power is available immediately.

The ignition system can also use some help. A coil-pack, spark plugs, and wires will get the job done. The spiral-core design has only about 14% of the electrical resistance of the older carbon wires and the coil puts out over 25% more energy. The spiral core are also suppressive to radio signals so don't have any effect on the vehicle electronics or radio reception. These allow much more voltage to reach and fire the sparkplugs.

We sell a dual gap plug re-gapped to work with our wires and coil for the maximum spark to start combustion in the cylinders. This results in more torque, a smoother running engine especially at idle, and better fuel economy. Our high output coil will not work with the factory spark plug wires. We sell the spiral core wires that fit this coil on the Focus SPI.

If your engine shows signs of running lean (surging and misfire) at part throttle, it can benefit from an Adjustable Fuel Controller.

A performance thermostat may also help by keeping the engine cooler. Ours run at 180 degrees and has a vent to prevent air from getting trapped around the thermostat. Do not go any lower than 180 degrees or it will not work well with the electronics

If you have an automatic transmission you should look at the Automatic Transmission Shift Improver. It will firm up the slow factory shifts and prevent excessive wear and heat in the transaxle.

The transmission oil should also be changed over to synthetics. This aids friction loss and shift quality in manual shift cars and automatics alike. Automatic transaxles need to be flushed to remove all the old fluid from the entire system. Only draining it, even with the pan removed, only removes about half. The pan should be removed anyway before flushing to clean it and the filter/screen out. There are 2 magnets in the bottom that trap metal particles. These will be heavily coated in higher mileage cars where they haven't been cleaned.

We have a performance short-throw 5-speed shifter available for the IB5 transaxle in the 2000-2004 Focus SPI cars. It significantly reduces the distance and looseness between gears allowing you to shift quicker. It comes with a polished knob or you can reuse the original stock knob.

We offer an Off-Road pipe for the Focus SPI. This pipe eliminates the stock catalytic converter resulting in an increase in exhaust flow, less backpressure, and a substantial power increase. This pipe will change the way your SPI feels and sounds. This pipe made 5whp and 4ftlbs. torque with the stock manifold.

A header to free up the exhaust flow would be a good addition. Some aftermarket headers are of poor quality and may cost you power from their poor design and construction. It is possible to make the 96-90 Escort GT header fit with a little work. Any header that fits any Escort CVH (1.6L, 1.9L, 2.0L SPI) will bolt up to the cylinder head. They will not attach to the factory exhaust system without some modification.

The next step will be a cam. The least expensive way to go is with our smaller cam, the #1C1C60C with a nearly stock engine. It will give a good power increase, excellent fuel economy, and works well with a lightly modified engine and with an automatic transmission. You will need the camshaft, lifters, and a new cam seal. This cam works with the stock valve springs. Another good cam to use for more power is the performance roller #1C1C63R. This cam is right at the limit to run with the stock valve springs and the clearances should be checked before startup. You can reuse your existing lifters with it but should change valve springs as the stock pieces are too weak and could possibly coil bind.

A cam is not a free ticket to power. It works with everything as a system. If one part of the system is not working with the rest, the whole system will suffer in performance. A large race type cam will not run efficiently without a header and free flowing exhaust system

The next step would be having the head and intake manifold ported. With these modifications a reprogrammed computer chip and a larger throttle body and modified air low meter will be need to get the most out of it. You could expect power to be in the 160-170 range (with proper computer tuning) and with a turbo or supercharger, well over 200. Keep in mind that the more power the engine makes, the harder it will be on internal parts and on the drivetrain

The OBDII cars are more sensitive to any modifications and changes. They will need computer reprogramming with almost any internal modifications. Spark plug wires, plugs, pulleys, air filters and intakes usually will not have any negative effect on how the engine runs although sometimes will trip the check engine light. Cams, porting, a header, larger throttle bodies and air flow meters will usually not run right, or to their full performance abilities with the stock computer programming.

The last areas to look at are tires and alignment. Your tires need to be properly inflated. This should be checked about once a month. Any major temperature change will affect the tire pressure. Tires should be checked cold and then verified when hot after a long highway drive. Make sure the maximum pressure doesn't exceed the tire manufacturer's recommendations printed on the sidewall. A little research into low rolling resistance tires may be beneficial. Also, wider tires usually are harder to roll/push so will slow the car to some degree.

For maximum fuel economy and acceleration, the tires should be aligned to be vertical and to be pointing straight ahead when the vehicle is normally loaded. We also offer adjustable alignment kits for this purpose Any changes in weight changes the alignment. We like to have them aligned in the condition they will most commonly be used. One or two passengers and possibly a full tank of fuel. Have your alignment specialists align the car loaded as such (if possible) and adjust in the window of the factory specifications as close to being zero toe and zero camber. This isn't the best setting for all-out handling but in normal driving, will never be noticed. Everything is a compromise.

Finally, performance brake pads and performance suspension bushings really help you to put that extra horsepower to good use.

Let us know if we can help you with your project.

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