Goodbye to My Old Friend the 2007 Focus

It's kind of crazy how attached you can get to a material object. In American culture materialism runs rampant. I'm very minimalistic in nature, so I really don't believe in materialism and loving physical objects. The one exception that I have found in myself is an attachment to my vehicles.

In a lot of ways, it can be a guy thing. Guys seem to get very attached to their vehicles. Another thing that increases the attachment is everything you've been through with the vehicle. In the case of my 2007 Focus, my attachment started from the beginning. I bought the car brand new right after I got out of high school.

The reason I bought it in the first place was my first car, a 1997 Dodge Neon, was a pile of junk. At the time I was going to school in Madison and came back home every weekend. I was able to maintain my job in Marshfield and effectively work 40 hours in the course of a weekend. I needed a reliable car to get me back and forth for the almost 300 mile weekly round trip.

When I started looking for a vehicle, I knew I wanted a Ford. Fords have always served my family well. Gas was over $4 a gallon at the time so I needed something with high fuel economy. I knew I had to get a Focus. I also wanted it to be sportier, so I figured I'd get a 2-door with a 5 speed.

I called V&H Ford up in Marshfield in October 2007 and told them what I wanted. I said, "2-door, 5 speed, tachometer." Come to find out the 2008 models were about to take to the lot so there were only two 2007 Focuses left in Wisconsin that matched my description. One had a tachometer and the other did not. I told the dealer to get the one with the tachometer. A little while later they called me and said it was already sold.

The only 2-door Focus with a 5 speed left in Wisconsin came without a tachometer. I decided that would be fine. The dealer secured the car and a few days later I came to pick it up. I had limited experience driving a manual transmission car prior to that, so I was definitely in for a learning experience.

I covered a lot of area, and many life milestones were achieved in those 260,805 miles. The car was like a good friend that had been by my side through it all. College came and went. I finished my bachelor's degree in two-and-a-half years. I then moved to Madison to take a job there. Of course, the car was there to help me move.

After that job, I was back in Marshfield. Marshfield Clinic gave me an offer I couldn't refuse. In the meantime, I started taking longer road trips and exploring Wisconsin and other parts of the Upper Midwest. I eventually got the courage to drive to the East Coast in 2012 and the West Coast in 2013. This was during my pre-blogging days.

The Focus really defined the style of travel that I now blog about. Multiple people told me I needed to start a travel blog and outline my travels. After a couple years I got bored with Marshfield and moved to Austin, Texas. I took whatever belongings I could fit in the Focus and then drove south.

After about 8 months in Texas, I decided to start this blog. I started traveling around Texas a bit more and also going back and forth to Wisconsin for special occasions. I also started and completed an MBA while doing all this traveling. Besides all this, another important thing happened. Victoria came into my life. The Focus got us to our first date at the Alamo. I still owned it when we got engaged.

Besides what I mentioned above, I drove the Focus to my first international experience in Thunder Bay. I also drove it into Mexico. I've driven it border-to-border and everywhere in between. I've circled Lake Superior with it. On many of my trips, it was my hotel room where I slept in it at rest stops. It was the ultimate travel machine!

The car has been in almost any condition imaginable. I've driven it off road in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I've driven it through Canadian blizzards and winter conditions that many people with four wheel drive vehicles wouldn't venture out in. It's been in the mountains and through the deserts. It's pretty much covered any climate North America could throw at it!

Through these diverse sets of conditions, the car was insanely reliable. The only time it left me stranded was when the original alternator went out at 247,000 miles. I had to replace a few suspension related parts like the back shocks, a wheel bearing, and the emergency brake, but everything else that kept the tires rolling was all original and kept working despite the high miles.

The rest of the car was another story. Being that it was originally a Wisconsin car with all the corrosive road salt, it was pretty rotted underneath. I had to also replace a license plate light due to corrosion.

As long as the car kept driving, I worked around the other quirks. To get in the car, I had to go through the passenger side. The electric motor on the driver side lock was worn out. It made a noise and attempted to work but failed to actually unlock the car. I used the clicker to unlock the passenger side door. I'd then open it up and reach across the manually unlock the driver side door. I could then walk to the driver side and get in the car.

The heat and air conditioning was an all or nothing deal. The HVAC box door was broken. It was either on or off and only worked through the vent. You had to use a screwdriver to turn the temperature blend door either on full heat or full cold. It wouldn't stay at anything in between. Full heat on vent definitely gave you a melt-your-face feeling. Full cold meant a bit of shivering in the winter. At least the Texas winters moderated that a bit.

Half the dash lights were burnt out. The back hatch had to be held up by hand because the shocks busted in the Texas heat. I also wore out the CD player and had to replace it. When you really think about it I really squeezed the pennies out of the car.

What finally did the car in is when it started to overheat.

I figured the thermostat was to blame. The thermostat was behind a bunch of stuff, so I ripped half the car apart to get to it.

I ended up snapping the lower bolt while trying to take it off. Corrosion got the best of it!

I tried about everything I could to get the bolt out. I tried a vise grips with a torch. I tried a left handed bit with a drill to drill it out. No matter what I did, the bolt wouldn't budge! I made one last effort. I thought the two bolts on top of the thermostat and some JB Weld on the busted bottom bolt might be good enough to hold it.

I was wrong! I put the car back together enough to try to start it and then start pouring fluids back in it. Coolant started to leak out of where the bolt was snapped. This time I knew I had to call it quits. There is more I probably could have done, but I was already spending a ton of time on this and I didn't want to keep buying tools. The next day I called a junk car buyer and they came surprisingly fast to pick it up.

I kept a few mementos from the car like the shift knob. Beyond that, the stall behind my garage door was now empty.

As the tow truck drove off with the car, I said goodbye to my old friend. This friend had been on so many adventures with me and effectively there for 1/3 of my life's milestones. I can definitely say the car served me well. I was going to trade it in when I bought my 2017 Focus, but decided to keep it. They were only going to give me $300 for it anyway. I figured I'd drive it around Austin and keep the hard stop and go city miles off the new car. That was April 1, 2017, so I got another year and a half out of the car. Not too bad!

The Focus also served as a great learning tool. When it became my beater, I lost all fear to really work on things and take my time. If worse came to worse I could junk it. This led to me really getting to know where stuff was located and how it was interconnected. Being that it is very compact under the hood, I learned which tools work the best.

I can say this car has allowed me to make a ton of memories while traveling, and also learn a ton and fine tune my mechanical skills. It served its purpose and then some! This is definitely the start of a new chapter, but I know it'll be good. There's a lot more adventures to come with my 2017 Focus. Hopefully it's as rock solid as the 2007 was!

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