Ford Focus – tips for a new owner
Yes, I’ve just bought a new car – the 2013 model of the Ford Focus Titanium X. It has a 1.0 litre Ecoboost engine which is remarkably good for it’s small, 3 cylinder capacity. A lawnmower it is not!
And the thing about the Titanium X is that it’s bristling with gadgets – it has the optionally appearance pack too which includes keyless entry. Anyway, I’ve come across a number of things that have required head-scratching and a lot of Googling so I thought I’d document them here. In fact, many of the queries I’ve seen raised in forums and not actually answered so I’m hopeful this might provide a definitive place for getting these finally resolved. And, not wishing to give any bad advice, I’ll be updating this with any changes that I get from Ford Customer Services themselves, who I shall pass this onto.
I’d highly recommend, upon buying the car, sitting in it with the manual and spending some time going over each button and switch, learning it’s use. Of course, sitting on your drive you may not want to actually use all the features (e.g. your wipers on a dry day) or be able to (ambient lighting controls during the day) but at least you can get a basic grasp of all the functions.
Sadly, the manual is not perfect and there are a number of things missing or, in some cases, wrong. Additionally, there is no manual available for the Sony head unit in the UK. A US version is available (apparently, but I’ve not seen it) but this doesn’t include DAB functionality. The main user manual does include some brief information on using it but it doesn’t go to a great detail. Basically, you’re left to work it out for yourself (although it’s not too difficult).
Now, my car is at the top end of the range with many features that others models may not have, so feel free to ignore anything that is not relevant – without lots of searching through brochures I’m intending to detail what’s available to which model.
Keyless entry – locking and unlocking the doors
With keyless entry the car detects your keys being nearby and allows locking and unlocking without their physical presence. However, particularly, the locking can be difficult if you’ve not mastered the correct process and at first I found it hit-and-miss. I wasn’t alone – many people reported the same problems in forums.
Unlocking is relatively easy. You simply grip a door handle and it detects your fingers around the back of it. Don’t pull on the handle immediately as it will take a moment to unlock. Once you hear the familiar “thunk” of the unlock then you can pull on the handle.
To lock the car press your finger to the black square on the handle (twice to deadlock it). DON’T hold the handle as you do it – this is where I was going wrong.
Mono option in Climate Control
It states that you hold down the “Auto” button and a “Mono” icon will appear. It doesn’t. Instead, hold down “Auto” and move the drivers temperature dial. This will activate mono (but wouldn’t say so). After this moving the drivers dial will adjust both temperatures. To de-activate mono simply move the passenger dial.
The first morning I tried this it didn’t work. However, the manual lists a whole load of reasons why it may not, often because the climate control is needed. In my case I suspect I’d simply been playing with the car too much the night before and the battery was too low.
When you pull up, simply take the car out of gear and take your feet off the clutch and accelerator. You don’t need to apply the handbrake. The engine will then shut off and the “A” logo will appear on the driver’s dash display. Depress the clutch pedal to restart the engine.
Music Automatically playing when connecting a phone to Bluetooth
Ok, here’s the deal – when the car connects to your Bluetooth phone it issues a command to start up your default player. In my case this was the Amazon music player which, although I want to keep installed, I don’t use the music player on it. This is the car performing this action and not your phone. However, I can’t find any setting that allows this to be turned off (although I’ve read people say there is).
For Android users there’s a solution (and probably for non-Android users too) – Media Button Router intercepts the request. It either kicks off the player which it thinks you genuinely want or presents you with a menu on your phone of which media player to use. It works brilliantly and is an ideal solution to this.
Adjusting Ambient Lighting
The Titanium X has some lovely ambient lighting which can be fully adjusted. My belief is that on the Titanium it has the same lighting but it can’t be adjusted. This consists of LEDs which light up key areas of the car – door handles, cup holders, etc.
Above the rear view mirror is a panel on the roof (behind the spectacle holder) Which consists of a white, rotatable knob and flanked by a button either side. The knob lets you adjust the brightness of the ambient lighting and the buttons allow the interior lighting to be switched on/off and, of most interest, change the colour of the ambient lighting.
Many people, though, that they seem to be unable to change the colour. The thing is, the ambient lighting will often come on but it can only be adjusted when 3 conditions are met…
- The ignition is on.
- Your lights are on (sidelights included)
- It’s actually dark outside – you can’t fool it by turning on your lights during the daytime
Meet the above 3 and you can adjust them all you like. Personally, I like the light blue as it matches the rest of the displays, particularly the climate control.
Moving from my previous Ford C-Max to the Focus one of the things that initially foxed me was the operation of the rear wipers. In the end of the wiper stalk (the one on your right) is a toggle switch – click it up one notch for intermittent wiping and up another for more regular.
Ford Sync is the Microsoft-powered computer system built into the car. It’s the voice that you hear (apparently named Samantha) and what powers the voice recognition, etc. And it’s more powerful than you probably realise. However, there’s a reason for this.
Ford Sync is really being pushed in the US but here in the UK it has limited use. For example, software updates can be downloaded applied via USB… in the US. Here in the UK you have to get it updated by a dealer.
In addition in the US they have a further features named AppLink – this enables phone apps to work with the Sync system, allowing them to be controlled via your car’s bluetooth controls. Nice. This is a software feature and is not available in the UK.
However, I’m informed that more features are “coming soon”.
Closing the Bonnet
About the only thing I’ve not yet worked out is the right technique for closing the bonnet. The manual says you should drop it from about 20 – 30cm but I struggled. About half a dozen attempts later and it finally closed. Of course, having it on your drive with a bonnet that won’t close is a bit worrying so I’m reticent to try it again.
When I spoke to the dealer they didn’t seem to think that was usually a problem so it may just be my car (if I continue to have the problem I’ll get it fixed under warranty). Having said that, they did say it needs to be dropped (never pushed down) with some force.
Filling with Petrol
This may seem an odd one but coming from my C-Max the instructions for filling up the car with petrol seemed rather complex. The first time I needed to fill up I made sure I went when it was likely to be quiet and, even then, I did so with some trepidation.
The cover opens with a firm click. The pipe itself is capless and you simply need to insert the pump. Ford instructions talk about inserting it “up to 2 notches” – this is based on grooves on the metal part of the pump. At the station I went to (Tesco) their pumps only had a single groove but this was sufficient. You have to insert it quite straight and some kind of valve system ensures that only the correct type of fuel pump can be used. Removal of the pump is trickier as you have to lift it slightly to get it to come out.
It wasn’t 100% smooth and I’m guessing it will be a few fill-ups before I’m 100% happy with this different procedure.
Mobile Phone Holder
Okay, okay, this isn’t something to learn about the car – it’s basically my recommendation for an accessory. But, for me, having a phone holder is critical. Okay, yes, it connects to the car via Bluetooth and can be controlled wonderfully. But not completely. What if I want to switch from my Podcast to music app? Also, unless I’m ultra prepared and queue up a podcast playlist, I can’t select another podcast to listen to.
No, I need occasional access to my phone and as many cubby-holes and recesses that there are there’s no-where obvious to place the phone which makes it easy to access. A phone holder is needed.
I’ve always used vent mounted ones before but I was worried about the vertical vents in the Focus. Mobilefun had one which works with vertical mounts. I ordered it. It didn’t. Well, okay, yes it did in a fashion. It consists of a spring-loaded arms that grips the vent and then adjustable rubber feet which keep it in place. Naturally, with the vents moving from side to side the holder wants to move as you corner – the rubber feet just wouldn’t get purchase on the smooth plastic dash and so just flopped about.
In the end I settled on one from Argos (easier to return if it doesn’t work well enough!) that sticks to the windscreen. I’ve stuck this to the lower right hand side (from the perspective of the driver) – it sticks solidly and is easy to adjust.
Creating USB Drive Playlists (New)
If you want to create playlists on the USB drive for SYNC to recognise then I’ve found this article invaluable.