Ford Focus: Common Problems and Solutions

The Ford Focus is the leading small family car in the UK and is well known for its good handling and great ride. However, they also have a reputation amongst owners for reliability issues, poor running costs and build-quality problems.

Below is a list of the most common problems and their solutions. We have broken them down into two sections, for the 1998 - 2004 models and the 2004 - 2011 models. The newer models manufactured after 2011 may share some of these common issues, so it is worth checking to see if a problem relates to a known fault in previous models. Most of the issues 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, with their popularity within the UK and other European countries a testament to this fact. Read our full Ford Focus review for more information about this vehicle.

Once you’ve browsed through this list of commonly associated problems and found the issue you are facing with your Focus, that's where comes in. We will help you find the replacement part you are looking for at very a reasonable price

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
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Alternator problem

Problem: TThe Focus model built between 1998 and 1999 has been known to suffer from alternator troubles, relating to 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 then subject to a recall by Ford. If it is now too late for you to be a part of the recall, then you may need to replace the harness and get a new wire. The worst case scenario would mean replacing the whole alternator unit, which you can search for in our Part Finder tool.


Door latch problem

Problem: Some Focus models built between September and November 1998 could have door latch issues due to a small plastic piece being faulty, which resulted in the door not closing properly.

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


Oil filler cap problem

Problem: A lot of the Focuses built from March 1998 onwards had issues with the oil filler cap, which became loose and caused 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 issues where the brake hose rubbed against the inside of the rear wheel arch. This was Ford's responsibility to fix, so you are within your rights to ensure that 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 ineffective due to a control module fault.

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



Focus owners of this generation were subject to quite a few recalls. We have listed some of these below, taken from the Department for Transport recalls database, but for a more comprehensive list visit their website. You should not come across these problems in your car currently as Ford should have fixed them when the recall occurred.

  • Alternator short circuiting – 28-06-1999

    Focus models built between 1st June 1998 and 31st March 1999 were subject to a recall due to concerns about a possible short circuit in the alternator. It was thought that the alternator regulator may fail and cause overheating issues, so all affected vehicles had the regulator

  • Door latch concern - 07-10-1999

    Due to door latch concerns a variety of Ford models were recalled in 1999 as some vehicles were built with latches which may not have been fit for specification. This was due to an internal plastic pawl seizing, which could prevent the door from shutting securely. Recalled vehicles were fitted with replacement latches to fix the issue.

  • Loose oil filler cap – 20-03-2000

    The Focus was recalled in 2000 due to issues with the oil filler cap, which could become loose and cause oil to drip onto the exhaust heat shield. Ford took remedial action by recalling affected vehicles and replacing the caps with a new redesigned version, fixing the problem and preventing any further leaking.

Common Problems and solutions for 2004-11 Ford Focus

2004-11 Ford Focus
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Wiper motor problem

Problem: Cars built between April 2003 and March 2005 had known issues with the wiper motors. Water was able to enter the motor through the wiper arm which could cause short-circuiting and overheating within the motor, and in some cases nearby trims may melt.

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 issues with leaks in the fuel return pipe. These pipes were built from degradable materials which would eventually 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 encounter 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: Focus models 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 caused them to degrade over time. This meant that the power steering failed and resorted back to standard steering.

Solution: To fix this fault 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.

  • Fuel return pipe leak – 11-04-2005

    Ford recalled models built between 14th July 2004 and 22nd February 2005 due to concerns with the fuel return pipe leak. The fuel return pipe was not fit for specification and was thought to degrade over time, which could lead to fuel seepage. Models that were thought to be affected were recalled and new fuel return pipes were fitted.

  • Loose rear hub bolt - 15-04-2008

    The Focus model built between February and April 2007 was recalled in 2008 due to issues with the rear hub, where bolts may become loose due to them not meeting specification requirements. Recalled vehicles had rear hub retaining bolts replaced with those of a higher specification to resolve the issue.

The above problems are only some of the issues raised from the Ford Focus. Here at you can find the parts you need for incredibly low prices by either entering your vehicle details in our part finder or visiting our Ford Focus parts page.