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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Coming from a Miata that would scrape in every speedbump and a Civic SI that I couldn't drive without hitting redline atleast once a drive, I purchased the Focus ST in February 2020 as a comfortable daily driver and promised myself that I would keep it stock. For a while, I loved driving a stock car and not having to worry about speed bumps or having to hit redline to pass a car on the highway that I sold my Miata and SI. Unfortunately, after the whole quarantine started, I got very bored and decided to slowly mod my ST. After a month of buying parts, I ended up FBO and tuned by JST. For a while, the sounds and performance was amazing, but after a while, I realize that I never really go past 4k rpm and almost always drive the speed limit.

I love the comfort and daily-ability of the ST but sometimes wished I didn't mod it because of the way I drive. The thought of keeping my car stock just always bothered me but I'm slowly changing that mindset.

FYI, the Focus has been super reliable for me and has only experienced one issue (code p008a) that was covered by warranty (intank fuel pump was replaced). I take very good care of my cars and was very worried about getting the Focus after reading many issues about LSPI. I just want to say that the Focus ST is a very affordable turbo car so a lot of first time turbo drivers might not be aware of the proper maintenance and care of driving a turbo car.

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PS: I am actually not a fan of blue cars. It's just what normally pops up and is a great deal LOL. The Civic was actually plastidipped and I chose that blue because it was the most forgiving color / looks less rubbery.
 

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2014 ST3. Garrett Powermax turbo, Thermal Turboback, CPE intercooler, JBR intake, Innovative RMM
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Well, regardless of what you decide to do, leave the intercooler on. You're only helping the longevity of your engine.

Also, maybe just try bolting the stock exhaust back on first, instead of doing a whole de-mod. I've found myself Wanting a silent exhaust from time to time as my car is also my daily driver and there are times that I'm noise conscious, so i dont floor it in instances that i would if the car was quiet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Well, regardless of what you decide to do, leave the intercooler on. You're only helping the longevity of your engine.

Also, maybe just try bolting the stock exhaust back on first, instead of doing a whole de-mod. I've found myself Wanting a silent exhaust from time to time as my car is also my daily driver and there are times that I'm noise conscious, so i dont floor it in instances that i would if the car was quiet.
Oh yeah, if I ever decide to take my mods off, I would definitely keep the intercooler, especially considering how hot this summer has been and how inefficient the stock intercooler is. I did swap my stock exhaust for a bit but swapped it back after missing the awe track. Sigh. We always want what we don't have.
 

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2014 ST3. Garrett Powermax turbo, Thermal Turboback, CPE intercooler, JBR intake, Innovative RMM
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Oh yeah, if I ever decide to take my mods off, I would definitely keep the intercooler, especially considering how hot this summer has been and how inefficient the stock intercooler is. I did swap my stock exhaust for a bit but swapped it back after missing the awe track. Sigh. We always want what we don't have.
Yeah you got that right. The grass is always greener!
 

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I enjoy the cars I own / have owned, and while my goals are different with each one, some have been highly modified and some have remained completely stock. I purchased my Focus ST new with the intention of never modifying it, but as you have noted- it's sometimes difficult NOT to mod a car- especially when there are some glaring problems / omissions with the car as equipped from the factory. My plan was to leave mine stock, except for the intercooler and maybe add the LSD and some real brakes. So far- I only changed the intercooler and the recirc valve to the better Mountune units, and added a Borla cat back for some better sound. I plan on adding an AP3 and a tune, and leave it there. I drive gently (for the most part) but I do enjoy exercising the car when the opportunity presents itself. In my opinion- mods aren't all or nothing. A few of the right mods that make the car better in your particular usage case shouldn't make you feel like you've gone too far.
 

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I recently bought a 2016 ST with 78k miles on it. It just had Green filter, Turbosmart blow off valve, Rally Armor mud flaps and WeatherTech mats.

My mods were just a DDPai dashcam, Gorilla lug nuts, Sync 3 upgrade for Apple Car Play and Mountune symposer delete. And I plan to stop there.

Maybe paint the calipers red or install sound deadening mats... but no performance item anymore.
 

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I have a stock ST.as well. I bought it new in July 2014 and the sum total of what I have done is in my signature. The only meaningful thing I have done is to do the pedal spacer mod that allows for better rev-matched shifting. Since I don't run the car on the track or autocross, I have not felt the need to do any significant performance mods. The car puts a smile on my face every time I take it out for a spin and that is good enough for me.
 

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It's a refreshing post. I had the same thought going from a heavily modded WRX and 2 cars later got a '14 ST. That car had so many problems that I never even had a chance to modify it (bought used Ford Certified, but still...) I very happily traded for a newer '18 ST after that and ,just like every car, I absolutely have to 'make it mine'. Custom buttons, handling mods, hell even a sticker or two; Whatever it takes to make it just right for me.

I think the ST is pretty solid out of the box, and that's what I was looking for. A decent and affordable platform that had potential for being a dedicated car after a few years. In stock form my ST has whooped several decently modded ST's around the tracks. It's a great car ;) I'd still rather have an exotic though :rolleyes:😅
 

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Very interesting post to read. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I agree with your assessment of the "out of the box" flavor of this car. Aside from a junkyard sync 3 upgrade and a few forscan/focccus tweaks, I too am bone stock and the car still brings a smile to my face every day. I do think about that intercooler every day it cracks 80 degrees though....

I even went a step further and took the sacrilegious step of replacing a faulty symposer with.... another stock symposer 😅 (thanks again @SSgtjrobertson , your unloved unit is enjoying the opportunity to provide me with diaphragm-based audio theatrics on a daily basis!)
 

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Very interesting post to read. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I agree with your assessment of the "out of the box" flavor of this car. Aside from a junkyard sync 3 upgrade and a few forscan/focccus tweaks, I too am bone stock and the car still brings a smile to my face every day. I do think about that intercooler every day it cracks 80 degrees though....

I even went a step further and took the sacrilegious step of replacing a faulty symposer with.... another stock symposer 😅 (thanks again @SSgtjrobertson , your unloved unit is enjoying the opportunity to provide me with diaphragm-based audio theatrics on a daily basis!)
Yes, yes. Enjoy the potential vacuum leaks LMFAO!!!
 

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I agree. My stock '13 ST3 has kept me very happy over 100,000+ miles, and I suspect adding another 50 hp wouldn't change that in any way. That, plus living in California, has stopped me from doing any significant mods.

All I've done is (1) add a backup sensor system, (2) added a short-throw shifter plate (took literally minutes to install, and greatly enhanced the shifting experience), (3) removed the sound symposer because I'm not a child, and (4) added a front catch can. The latter is because I bought a borescope and saw all the build-up on my intake valves. Unfortunately, because reducing emissions by capturing instead of burning that blowby oil makes it illegal in California, I'm going to be at the mercy of my mechanic (who is also my smog checker) in two years. Hopefully he will see the logic...
 

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This is a pretty solid car in stock form. As a daily driver I honestly LOVE my ST. It is the right mix of torque, handling and comfort, plus I get to control my gears and feel like I have a secret skill that few have learned.

Mods tend to fall broadly into two categories, personal preferences or competitive. For competitive drivers there is a specific goal you are modding for, like a racing class. There are rules on what you can and can't mod, like in autocross for example.

Personal preferences however is where we often end up on these forums. It can be hard as a stock car on this website to not "Oohh and Aweee" over BT's, 2.3 Strokers, LSD's, Coil over kits, Big FSB and RSB, Chassis bracing, BBK's and Wheels. I just log in somedays, just to look at wheels on ST's. Really. BTW, I really like the bronze on the blue @eShifty . Some of these rides people share are amazing.

On the surface I refrain because $$$. But I'm also at a point in my life that I know that stuff will potentially take away from the daily driver balance that made me fall in love on my test drive 6 years ago. An overly stiff suspension on a California commute? Viiibbvrraaatiooonssssszzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Big power that I can't control, because it's already easy to spin the wheels stock? Not as fun as it sounds, as per my speeding ticket 15 years ago doing an unplanned burn out in front of a not so understanding cop. Yes, my fault, but driving with an egg under your foot is the metaphor I believe I'm looking for. Big brakes are cool on the street, but don't help for daily driving. Better to try brake fluid (I know, not exciting) instead. In fact if you are running a proper pad compound for the track you will like need ear plugs screeching stop to stop. A LSD would be awesome, but I'm not taking a part a perfectly good trans until it needs a clutch (I'm sure I just channeled my dad). I did pick up some nice wheels that I like, but that was largely influenced by the need for a dedicated tire set for autocross in stock class...

As enthusiast who come together and share, we want to make our ride our own. For me modding the gas pedal for toe-heal driving was done the first week. Stickers, mud flaps and Spongbob on the dash are for fun. And a spare set of wheels to stand out on day to day driving. I do have a Rear sway bar & endlinks waiting to be installed for autocross, but won't affect daily driving. The only real mod I want is a LSD (because e-diff cooks brakes), but outside of autocross which I haven't attended since the pandemic, I don't need it. I would never push it that hard on the streets, even when driving spiritedly. So a want is not a need and I keep that in mind.

But seriously, stickers are worth 5 HP each. You can feel in your butt dyno every time!
 

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This is an interesting post for me to read

If it were me i would just go back to the stock DP, exhaust, intake, and stock tune. Keep the intercooler and be done.

People will always try to push you towards bigger and better things but you have to know when its right for you to stop.
Stage 1 tune - "should have got an intercooler and gone stage 2"
stage 2/3 tune - "should have gone with a powermax"
powermax - "should have got a 2867"
2867 - "should have got a 3071"
springs and dampers - " should have done coilovers"
clutch - "should have done LSD while you're in there"
LSD done while you're in there - "should have done synchros too"

It goes on forever. From what I've seen and personally experienced, the best setup for this car if you are just looking to have a little fun but still be comfortable is
  • intercooler
  • stock tune
  • tires
It will pull harder without any worry about blowing the motor, no custom tunes, and will grip nicely. At that point you'll have a nice car that you can just drive and enjoy, every day of the week, any weather, and uses 87 octane gas.

For me personally the reason I'm pushing this car and doing mods is that if I didn't i would always be afraid of this kind of stuff. This is the first car I've seriously modded, and if I keep waiting for the right time to do mods I'll just always be driving a stock car. Plus EV's are going to take over one day and I need to have my fun while I still can. I know what I'm doing, i know what the car will end up like and I'm here for that. When I went shopping for cars one of my criteria was that it had to be a "modding car" and had to have an active aftermarket community. But you wanted a daily, and I think if you wanted a daily you might have done better with a different car.

If I'm being truly honest, the car is good in stock form but it leaves things to be desired. There are glaring issues that will make you want to modify the car just to fix them. It starts small with a short shifter and ends up with a big turbo. A better way to avoid modding a car is to just pay the extra money upfront to buy a car that is already what you want it to be. A Golf R comes to mind. Alternatively you can buy a car that has a higher barrier to entry into its aftermarket scene, i think what draws a lot of people into modding the ST is that the first taste is a cheap tune, for $500 you can get a cobb stage 1 tune and feel more power. Where as with something like a BRZ you need to spend $3000+ to get a turbo kit to really make more power. Most BRZs you see rolling around are stock power, but most ST's are tuned. Just the barrier to entry keeping people who aren't serious stock.

The ST is cheaply tuned and has a handful of glaring issues, I think these two things are the perfect storm for creating a modding car.
 
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