DSC Sport Module Worth it for your Focus RS?

I finally had the chance to take and test the DSC Sport Module for my 2016 Focus RS at my local autocross.

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Although I don’t tout myself as the fastest or the most experienced autocross driver out there, I can hold my own and consistently take the upper 25% in PAX standings. (more about PAX)
I wanted to see what kind of benefits the DSC Sport Module have for the stock dampers for the Focus RS to make it more active damping based on the car’s ECU inputs for G-force, braking, etc.

I used a similar technique that I heard on a car podcast with some auto journalists sharing how they test performance parts and changes on cars. I did a on/off replacement of the stock control module and swapped with the DSC Module every other run, starting with the stock module. The autocross group I run with, ERSCC, allowed us to drive six runs for that day’s session.

The placement of the control module in the Focus RS isn’t in a bad spot to remove and replace. It takes a matter of seconds for me to swap parts due to the fact I already have my interior bits unscrewed and just need to pry apart and snap it back together in the hatch area.

The course was a pretty fast one, integrated with two 180 turns, and two slaloms(one short 3 cone, and a longer 6 cone pass). The average time was between 40-41 seconds between all the drivers that day. The parking lot we ran on is known to all the local autcross clubs to have dips, expansion cracks, inclines, declines, sandy debris, and pebbles all over. It makes these courses interesting to see how one deals with weight transfer through all the corner transitions, which I think is great for testing out the DSC control module on my Focus RS. Anyways, on to the good stuff, the data.

For all of the runs I ran the car in Track Mode, ESC off, and Sport mode for the dampers. The Focus RS was running 18×8″ OZ Racing Omnia Wheels with Yokohama ADVAN A13C 245/40/18. Here are the results:
Run 1 (stock) : 42.423s
Run 2 (DSC) : 42.277s
Run 3 (stock) : 41.846s
Run 4 (DSC) : 41.792s
Run 5 (stock) : 40.259s Video
Run 6 (DSC) : 39.916s Video

As you can see, I wasn’t very consistent with the elapsed time for each run, but consistent with improving my times as I learned to manage the course after every sequential run. So in this case, I’ll break down the improvement times for each run with their respective part installed: Stock vs DSC comparing the first with the second, and the second with the third run respectively (run 1/run, run 3/run 5 and run 2/run 4, run 4/run 6)

Stock time decrease
Run 1 and Run 3: 0.577s
Run 3 and Run 5: 1.587s

DSC
Run 2 and Run 4: 0.485s
Run 4 and Run 6: 1.876s

The data isn’t very conclusive, but again, shows some sort of consistency. Comparing the delta of the first two runs with the stock module vs the DSC module show a half second of difference between the two. Continuing the trend, comparing the second set of times show an improvement of at least 1.5 seconds but a little bit more for the DSC. That last delta for the DSC module, I believe shows more my driving adjustments to the course and also going “balls out” for the last run rather than any changes to the module.

I honestly didn’t notice too much of a difference in my inputs of the suspension, as I was concentrating more on getting a more smooth run to make up time in the slaloms and try to beat some of the fastest and more experienced drivers in the club.

So, in conclusion, I have no conclusive evidence, except I need to learn how to drive in autocross courses better. haha.
But really, I think for the limitations of the stock dampers for variance in change is what is really holding back this module to becoming a huge improvement for performance applications, but for daily driving use, I believe in my experience has shown much improvement.

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Got the Focus RS back and it smells like a new cat

So I picked up my RS from Metro Ford in Miami. Please, if you need to service your Ford, don’t go there. Let me tell you about my experience.

First off I drove to the dealer and noticed a nitrous blue RS waiting to get serviced right before me. I saw the owner right away because he was eyeing my car as soon as I pulled in. I got out of my car and ended up talking to him right before walking in the door. My soon to be new friend, let’s call him Zeke, was trying to warn me about this dealer. I listened to his story about how they were to do some warranty work replacing his PTU seal and received his car with scratches on the door, dirty seats, and flywheel chatter as if he got an update to a diesel tractor. He was there to see if they ever got an not engineer from Ford to take a look at it. But it seems that Metro Ford was less than helpful in that aspect.

I was a bit worried. But wanted to still use this dealer for my replacement catalytic converter. I mean it’s just a remove and replace of an exhaust piece, right? Also this is the closest dealer to my house and my normal dealer I go to is 50 min away near my old job where I no longer work.

I decided to go inside and talk to the service advisor anyway. She couldn’t tell me how long it would take, which is fine, but she couldn’t tell me when they would look at the car or an estimate of how long it would take to diagnose the error code. Ok, you guys are busy, but I just wanted to know if I should bring it back another time, of get a loner car. Nope. No loner car it an idea of time to when they would look at my car. Just leave my car and maybe I’ll get it back.

Whatever.

I ended up talking to my new friend Zeke for a couple hours in the parking lot about cars. It so happens we have a bunch of connections to each other that we didn’t know about. He offered to give me a ride back to my place since he happened to live near me.

4 no answers, 2 messages, and 4 days later, I finally get a call. We just ordered the new catalytic converter and should be arriving the next day. I asked how long it would take to install, she still had no clue.

Of course not. And still no offer for a loner car. I asked, and she said, of you should have it soon. Wtf?

The following week, I call. No answer. Left a message. No call back. Thursday arrives. She calls and tells me they can’t install it because they need their “tranny guy”. Either their main tech is non gender or the first tech is just incompetent. She proceeded to tell me that they need to drop the trans to get to the catalytic converter. They need only one more day. She finally offered a rental for me.

Friday comes, I call and the service advisor tells me that it should be done the following week.

Really? But no commitments when it would be done. Of course. Is this a cable guy where it would be done between the days of 3-1 month? For a catalytic converter replacement?

Of course, Tuesday comes and it’s finally done.

So I returned my fancy red Focus SE back to Enterprise and got my ride back up the dealer.

Up until this point I’ve been worried after the story that Zeke told me about his car getting serviced at this dealer. I didn’t want them to touch my transmission and fuck up my car. I still have a head gasket to worry about.

I look at my car. I walk around it, looking for scratches or missing panels. It seemed fine. I get into the car and take a deep breath and start it.

It sounds normal. I push in the clutch. No change in noises. No chatter from the fly wheel. Thank goodness.

I drive off. Boy I forgot what it’s like to drive there RS! I smiled like it was the first time driving it off the dealer when I first purchased it. Check the clutch, everything is good.

As I get home I notice that I smelled something familiar. Like a burning smell, but not alarming. I remembered it was the smells from when I first got the RS. I was breaking in the catalytic converter.

The smell of a new cat.

Blown Head Gasket or Catalytic Converter Melted? I Ended up Trading in the Focus RS

On a recent road trip from South Florida to North Carolina, I encountered a Check Engine Light (CEL) on my dash. Not only was it unfortunate to run into this issue on my road trip, but I saw this light pop up 3 hours into the trip. Now for those not aware of the pleasure of owning a MKIII Ford Focus RS, there has been a known problem with the engine’s head gasket that has gotten owners in a tizzy. (see https://jalopnik.com/why-so-many-ford-focus-rs-owners-are-freaking-out-about-1820280550). I, of course, was kind of freaking out because: What if it the head gasket blows in the middle of the trip? Will I find a dealer who can address it during the holidays? Can I trust these dealers?

So after 5 miles of freaking out and hoping the light would go away, I finally pulled off to the next rest stop. I quickly stopped the car, opened the hood and checked the coolant levels. They looked fine. But wasn’t sure because, the car wasn’t very level with the ground at the time. I looked for any signs of coolant leaking at the head, and sniffing the exhaust pipe for any faint smells of sweet burnt coolant. Nothing.

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If I only had an ODB-II port scanner to see what the code was. Not knowing what to do with out one, I searched for the nearest dealer. Just my luck Palm Bay Ford was the next exit over.

I get to the dealer, the tech tells me that they are backed up. I quickly told him my situation and asked if he could at least tell me the code and get some sort of idea what’s going on. The tech comes back with the scanner and pulls up the code P0420. It’s a vague description. Catalytic converter. Ok, so at the very worse, it could be a bad O2 sensor and the car would be in “limp mode” and run the fuel mixture rich to prevent any knock from happening. So what? I get some bad gas mileage. Yeah that sucks because I’m driving 1800 miles during the week, but at least it’s not a blown head gasket.

The technician told me he could clear the code and see if the light pops up again. He then looks at me slyly and says, “Are you tuned or have any aftermarket parts on the car?”

I reply quickly, “No, no. I’m stock except for an air filter.” Knowing that if Ford finds out I have put any aftermarket parts on the car I could be denied of any warranty work on my car.

The technician then replies, ” Ok, because I’ve put a down pipe on my Focus ST and I get that code all the time because of it. Keep an eye on it. It might not come back.”

Feeling a bit relieved, I drove off and continued my journey. 300 or so miles later the CEL pops up.

“Damn it.”

I pull over to the next rest stop, and remembered I actually had an bluetooth ODBII scanner in my car.

“Dumb ass.”

I whip it out of my glove compartment and proceed to check the code. P0420.

“Phew.”

I cleared it one more time and it eventually popped up again 300 or so miles later.

After the trip, I ended up taking it to my local dealer. Not my “go to” Ford Dealer, but the one closest to me, because the other dealership I normally get my car serviced at is in the middle of a buy out transition and didn’t have access to their diagnostic tools and software.

I dropped it off at Metro Ford in Miami. One week later with them with my car, I finally receive a phone call. They have to replace the catalytic converter and that they need more time with it because they have to drop the transmission to get to the catalytic converter. They finally put me into a rental car. Now I drive this car:

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I think I’ll do a series called Rental Car Reviews in the future.

I hope to get my car back soon because there’s an autocross this weekend. Or maybe I just take the rental Focus SE?