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Ford Focus Common Problems and Solutions

Engine Misfire

Problem:

The engine on your Zetec keeps misfiring and occasionally judders when driving.

Models affected:

Solution:

All petrol versions of the Zetec with a 1.6-litre engine can experience this problem, and there could be one of two issues. In some cases, it will be caused by a defective Mass Air Flow sensor, and in others, it will be the Manifold Absolute Pressure sensor. This can be tricky to diagnose because it's not something that will register as a fault code on your ECU. While you can replace the sensors yourself with our options, this can be a very challenging task.

Difficulty level

5

Engine Cuts Out

Problem:

The engine occasionally cuts out.

Models affected:

Solution:

This should only affect a 1.6 petrol Ford Focus that was built between January 1999 and January 2000, although it has been reported in slightly older versions too. The problem here is a software issue. Take your Focus to a Ford dealer, and they should be able to reinstall the powertrain control module software for you. This isn't something that you can do yourself.

Difficulty level

5

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.

Models affected:

Solution:

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

Difficulty level

5

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.

Models affected:

Solution:

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

Difficulty level

5

Oil filler cap problemOil 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.

Models affected:

Solution:

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

Difficulty level

5

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.

Models affected:

Solution:

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

Difficulty level

5

Part you need

Door Hinges

Part required

Door Hinges

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Alternator problem

Problem:

The 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.

Models affected:

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.

Difficulty level

5

Key Stuck in Ignition

Problem:

The key to your Ford Focus is stuck in the ignition and won't come out.

Models affected:

Solution:

Although this is covered in the manufacturer warranty, it tends to happen later on. It's an issue that's quite common on Focus cars built between 2000 and 2003, and you can tell it's going to happen if you've noticed that the key is getting harder to turn. In most cases, you will need to call out a locksmith, but this will only be a temporary fix. For something more long-term, you'll need to find a replacement Strattec cylinder that doesn't have the sidebar, which we stock. Then, replace the ignition cylinder with your replacement part.

Difficulty level

4

Overheating Control Module

Problem:

The control module is overheating, sometimes to the point where it's too hot to touch.

Models affected:

Solution:

Only affecting Focus 1.6 TDCi estates that were built between 2004 and 2006, an overheating control module is a cooling fan problem. This can be a lot more serious than you think, too, because if you're driving on particularly salty roads, then you're going to be corroding your engine. That corrosion will extend all the way to your control module, which is why it's overheating. In a worst-case scenario, this will cause a fire. Replacing the cooling fan with one of our options should be done as quickly as possible, but then you're also going to need to investigate how corrosion may have affected the rest of the car.

Difficulty level

2

Part you need

Cooling Fans

Part required

Cooling Fans

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Stiff Brake Pedal

Problem:

The brake pedal becomes stiff, especially when the weather is particularly cold.

Models affected:

Solution:

The non-return valve that you'll find in the brake pump is the problem here. It should only be a problem for cars built between November 2005 and December 2006, although it can affect any Ford Focus built all the way up to 2011. You're going to need to replace the non-return valve with a new one available here, which is a minor job, although it can be a little fiddly.

Difficulty level

2

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.

Models affected:

Solution:

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

Difficulty level

3

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.

Models affected:

Solution:

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

Difficulty level

5

Part you need

Fuel Pipe

Part required

Fuel Pipe

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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.

Models affected:

Solution:

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

Difficulty level

5

Clutch Slipping

Problem:

Changing gears is not smooth and is prone to slip when you press the clutch.

Models affected:

Solution:

Ford had to discontinue their dry-clutch, Powershift gearbox in 2015. Although it was only installed on the lower-powered models, clutch slippage was too common a complaint. They've replaced the entire system with a six-speed version. If your Ford Focus is affected, then your only option is going to be a full clutch replacement, where you can get parts from us.

Difficulty level

4

Part you need

Clutch Kit

Part required

Clutch Kit

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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.

Models affected:

Solution:

To fix this fault you will have to fit the new revised hoses to your vehicle.

Difficulty level

4

Part you need

Power Steering Hoses

Part required

Power Steering Hoses

Get a quote for Power Steering Hoses

Faulty Touchscreen

Problem:

The touchscreen in your Ford is unresponsive or has just gone black.

Models affected:

Solution:

This is such a common problem that Ford not only got taken to court for it but also dropped in terms of credibility and customer satisfaction ratings. The problem is more common in older models that have the MyFord Touch system. That system is plagued with issues and gets even worse and more unresponsive when it's cold. Ford has addressed the problem, though, and you can either head to a Ford dealer who will update the system for you on your behalf or contact Ford, and they should send you a USB with the software update that you can install yourself.

Difficulty level

2

Engine Failure

Problem:

The engine keeps failing, sometimes even when driving.

Models affected:

Solution:

This is a very common problem with any Ford Focus that was built between 2012 and 2013 that was fitted with 1.0-litre Ecoboost. The problem is caused by a leaking coolant, and it needs a new 'Degas' hose fitted. You can fairly easily check yourself if the Degas hose has been fitted, and if it isn't, you can get one with us. A Ford dealer will be able to help with this issue should it need fixing. If you ignore this problem, then your engine will die, and you will need a full replacement.

Difficulty level

3

Reading these common Ford Focus problems should help you find out what is wrong with your Ford Focus – or just what to look out for in the future. We’ll also give suggestions on what to do if your Ford Focus does have one of these issues.