Ford Focus: Common Problems and Solutions

The Ford Focus is the leading small family car in the UK and is known for its good handling and also for being a great ride. However, they are also have a reputation amongst their owners for reliability issues, poor running costs and build quality problems. Read our full review on this car by clicking here.
Below is a list of the most common problems and their solutions. We have broken them down into two sections, the 1998-2004 models and the 2004-11 models. The newer models after 2011 may share some of these issues. It is worthwhile checking through to see if a problem is covered by a known fault in previous models. Most of the problems listed below were subject to recalls but overall, non-recall problems are not too difficult, or expensive to fix. The Focus is a well built car and that is why they have been so popular with the UK public and other European countries. 

When you search through this list of commonly associated problems and find the problem you are facing with your vehicle, that's where we can help. We will help you find the replacement part you are looking for at very reasonable prices. You can enter your vehicle details in our part finder or you can also call us on *0905 232 3000. to begin your search.

Ford Focus problems

In this section, you’ll find information about the most common problems for the Ford Focus models: the 1998 – 2004 Ford Focus and the 04 – 2011 Focus. If we don’t mention a problem you’ve come across, then it doesn't mean its not a common problem. This list is by no means comprehensive.

Common Problems and solutions for 1998-2004 Ford Focus

Picture of a metallic blue Ford Focus
Image Source:

Alternator problem

Problem: The Focus built between 1998 and 1999 have been known to suffer with alternator problems short circuiting, or overheating. This was usually caused by a faulty harness which caused the cable to come loose.

Solution: This was a manufacturer's fault which was part of a recall by Ford. If it is too late for the recall, then you may need to replace the harness and get a new wire. Worst case scenario would mean replacing the whole alternator unit.


Door latch problem

Problem: Some Focus's built between September and November 1998 could have door latch problems due to a small plastic piece being faulty, this meant the door wouldn't close properly.

Solution: This was subject to a recall by Ford and should be fixed on your car.


Oil filler cap problem

Problem: A lot of the Focuses built from March 1998 onwards had oil filler cap problems which became loose causing a leak of oil onto the exhaust heat shield.

Solution: This was also subject to a recall by Ford in 2000.


Brake hose problems

Problem: The Focus RS built in December 2002 was known to have brake hose problems which rubbed against the inside of the rear wheel arch. This was Ford's responsibility to fix, so make sure they sort it out.

Solution: As mentioned above, this was a manufacturing fault and was subject to a recall by Ford.


Air-bag problems

Problem: The Focus built in March 1999 had recurring problems with the restraint system and airbags. The front and side airbags were known to deploy incorrectly and the seatbelt pre-tensioners were faulty due to a control module problem.

Solution: This problem was also subject to a recall by Ford in 2000. This should no longer be a problem on this car.



There was quite a few different recalls for the Focus of this generation. We have a list of some of these recalls below which is taken from the Department of transport recalls database, but for a more comprehensive list visit the website to check them out. You should not come across these problems on your car as Ford should have fixed them when the recall occurred.

Common Problems and solutions for 2004-11 Ford Focus

2004-11 Ford Focus
Image Source:

Wiper motor problem

Problem: Cars built between April 2003 and March 2005 had known issues with the wiper motors. Water could enter the motor through the wiper arm which could cause short-circuiting and overheating on the motor, also melting nearby trim.

Solution: This was a manufacturing fault and should have been recalled in 2005.


Fuel pipe leak

Problem: Any Focus built from July 2004 to February 2005 could potentially have problems with leaks in the fuel return pipe. These pipes were built from degradable materials which eventually would allow fuel to leak out.

Solution: Again this was another manufacturing fault which was subject to a recall in 2005.


Water leaks

Problem: Any second generation Focus has the potential to have water leaking into the cabin due to faulty seals on the windows or sunroofs. Check for wet patches inside and check the seals before buying.

Solution: If this is a problem on your Focus then you need to replace the affected seal to resolve the issue.


Power steering problems

Problem: Focuses built from April to May 2008 could have power steering faults. The hoses on the power steering system were not built to specified standards which would degrade over time. This meant that the power steering failed and resorted back to standard steering.

Solution: To fix this problem you will have to fit the new revised hoses to your vehicle.



As mentioned in the above recalls list for the 1998-2004 Focus, this list is taken from the Department of Transport recalls database, and you can check this out to see the rest of the recalls for this generation.

The above problems are only some of the issues raised from the Ford Focus. . You can find the parts you need here at Breakeryard for incredibly low prices by either entering your vehicle details in our part finder or visiting our Ford Focus parts page. If you want to speak to one of our specialist advisors, call us on *0905 232 3000.