Ford Focus Transmission Problems

Ford Focus Transmission Problems – Are They Worth Avoiding?

The Ford Motor Company has a rich history and one that’s not easily tainted just because of Ford Focus transmission problems. It was founded in 1903 by Henry Ford and has been the leader in the automotive sector for a significant amount of time. Their lineup is a literal demonstration of the innovation, creation, and achievements of mankind.

Be it the Ford Model T, the first-ever car the company built, or their beautifully engineered Ford GT, Ford has been there throughout. Thus, they’re a huge part of the automotive world and its history.

The Ford Motor Company has made one of the best performance cars. It also has some of the best SUVs and amazing racing heritage. But even so, Ford cars are known best for their reliability. The Ford Motor Company’s recent lineup is mostly based on SUVs, performance vehicles, and crossovers. Nevertheless, Ford has had its fair share of cars in the hatch segment as well.

Although not every generation of Ford Focus has this problem, there were a plethora of recalls made by Ford. All four generations of Ford Focuses have their own set of unique features and problems, so let’s get into it.

Ford Focus

Ford Focus Transmission Problems

It was once upon a time, one of the best-selling cars and the modern brother to the Escort. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we are talking about the hottest of hatches, the Ford Focus. The Ford Focus was introduced in 1999 to create a fun-to-drive, practical, and stylish car that would appeal to the youth. The Focus was affordable, gave great gas mileage, and came in all sorts of configurations.

There have been countless reviews about the Ford Focus that would shed some light on how amazing it is. The car itself is a beautifully designed hatch that has long enjoyed a booming market.

Nevertheless, it had its fair share of problems, most of which are Ford Focus transmission problems. This car has been a part of the Ford lineup for about two decades and has had issues quite a lot of the time. This wasn’t expected from such a reliable company, Ford.

Even though there were several models including performance variants, it wasn’t enough for all the Ford fans out there. Ford couldn’t keep turning a blind eye to this fault that most of these cars are facing.

Ford Focus Generations

The Ford Focus has a huge history attached to it. It was a part of the Ford lineup for about twenty years. The car has a total of 4 generations, and we want to break down its legacy for you.

MK1 Focus

The first generation of the Focus had a futuristic design, and amazing handling, and was a really fun car to drive. The Focus was introduced to the European markets in 1998 and the American markets in 1999.

The Focus didn’t do very well in its first year. However, and with a little bit more time, the stylish hatch had more than a quarter-million units sold just in the United States.

The hatch had sharp lines, futuristic headlights, and distinctive features. Ford kept in mind the futuristic and new edge design philosophy of Jack Telnack. The Focus came with many configurations.

These include a three and five-door hatchback, a four-door sedan, a five-door estate, two two-door coupes, and a European two-door cabriolet. This made Ford’s Focus a suitable car for practically everyone and filled each niche in the market.

The MK1 Focus had an amazing impact on the American market by making it one of the best-sold hatchbacks available in the market at that time. Not only was the exterior penned beautifully, but the interior also was very bold.

The lines and curves ran brilliantly around the interior, complimenting all the parts used to create this automobile. The Focus came with 2 engine options, the Zetec gasoline engine, and a diesel engine. It was also named the car of the year in the UK in 1999.

MK2 Focus

The second-generation Focus wasn’t very different from its predecessor. The MK2 was introduced in 2002. Due to the groundbreaking success of the 1st generation, it received some mild facelifts.

Later, the MK2 was introduced with new features like climate control and sat-nav. There were some tweaks to the grill of the car but the biggest change was the introduction of a new sportier version of the Focus called the Focus ST.

It came with a 2.0-liter turbocharged Zetec engine producing about 170 BHP. Even though for today’s hot hatches this doesn’t sound a lot, it was groundbreaking at the time. This helped to put the Focus at the top of the list when it comes to performance. The MK2 also received a facelift in 2007, making it even more desirable in the eyes of the public.

MK3 Focus

The third-generation Focus was introduced in 2011. By that time the sales and reviews of the Focus were off the charts. Along with that, the bold styling was back, the MK3 has that curvy and overly dramatic design that adds to the character of the Focus. The Focus, along with a facelift, also got some heavy engine modifications to make it stand out.

The Focus got a new and improved engine, with a dual-clutch transmission, and some modifications that made the vehicle ready to capture the market. But the Ford Focus had a long road ahead of it and it was a difficult one.

This is because, from 2012 onwards, there were many Ford Focus transmission problems. Issues like stuttering, vibrations and stiff and clunky gear shifts poisoned the image of the Ford Focus.

MK4 Focus

The new design of the fourth generation Focus was way sportier than the previous models. This sportiness made the Focus stand out from its competitors yet again, giving the Focus an edge to help win the loyal Ford customers back.

Unfortunately, Ford decided to discontinue the Focus in America, so that they could focus more on their trucks and SUV. At least the MK4 Focus was still sold in some parts of Europe.

Ford Focus Transmission Problems

Ford Focus Transmission Problems

Ford launched the DPS6 dual-clutch gearbox, also known as the Powershift gearbox. It was used in the 2012 to 2016 model years of the Focus. Instead of using a conventional automatic torque converter, the Focus uses a more advanced dual-clutch technology.

The two clutches that are responsible for connecting the engine and the transmission don’t work together, but are in sync as one of these clutches engages the odd gears while the other takes care of the even gears.

The advantages of dual-clutch gearboxes are that they usually improve the fuel efficiency of an automobile and ensure a faster shift. But the disadvantage of this transmission is that they tend to slip the clutch and the shifts can be sharper than a traditional automatic gearbox.

These issues are even worse as Ford chose to use a dry clutch instead of a wet clutch in the interest of efficiency. A wet clutch offers smoother engagement, making it more popular than a dry clutch.

Ford Focus Class Action Lawsuit

Ford refused to believe that there was anything wrong with their cars and claimed that the low-speed shuddering and vibrations were a tradeoff for the dry clutch’s better fuel economy. They further stated that the real problem was with the control module and thus started giving extended warranties for the vehicles.

The transmission of the 2012-2016 Focuses was covered up to seven years or 100,000 miles for clutches and related hardware. Meanwhile, they also gave ten years or 150,000 miles warranty extension for the transmission module.

Even with the extended warranty, many customers complained that the replacements and fixes were not resolving the problems the customers were facing. Along with that, a report accused the Ford Motor Company of knowing about this issue before the cars hit the market.

This resulted in a class-action lawsuit that stated that Ford needs to return the money that its customers spent on repairs. On top of that, customers also had the option of selling the car back to the dealership for a decent price.

Ford Focus Transmission

Ford Focus Transmission Problems #1: Stalling Or Inability To Accelerate

They stated that the DPS6 transmission might face the problem of disengagement where the car shifts itself into neutral while driving. There also is a problem while starting and a random loss of power while driving. This was due to improper transmission control module calibration.

Customer complaints – Anyone using the Ford Focus with the DPS6 gearbox has complained that the car automatically shifts into neutral while driving. It also shows an error message on the dash or in some cases the check engine light is turned on. It also has a problem restarting, and if it does restart, the higher gears can not be engaged. This makes it a very troublesome experience for the owners of these cars.

Ford Focus Transmission Problems #2: Shaking And Shuddering

Ford admitted to these transmission problems, they agreed to the fact that there was heavy vibration when the DPS6 was operated at low speeds, just like the way a manual car works.

Customer complaints – The owners of the Focus state that the vibration and shuddering effect of the transmission make the car feel like it’s going to stall. As a result, quite a few customers felt very uncomfortable and unsafe while driving the Focus.

Ford Focus Transmission Problems #3: Hesitation

It feels as if the clutch is not engaging or hesitating to engage while shifting gears. This might be caused by transmission fluid contamination or the module calibration could be off.

Customer complaints – Customers have stated that the vibrations along with the problems of the dry clutch make them feel that the car is highly unsafe and also it causes inconsistent shifting while driving the car.

Ford Focus Reliability

Ford used to be a symbol of reliability anytime a car is pieced together. But recently, Ford is losing its touch. Most of the 2021 models of Ford’s line-up received low-reliability ratings. Be it the Ford Ranger or the Ford Escape, both received an average rating of 2 out of 5 in the case of reliability.

The Ford Focus came with several configurations that did well in performance and reliability. The RS and ST versions did exceptionally well in their respective markets. The place where Ford lost the battle was with the DPS6 dual-clutch transmission. Produced between 2012 and 2016, any car fitted with this gearbox is extremely unreliable.

There are some complaints about the car producing vibrations and shuddering. There have also been complaints stating that the car automatically disengages while driving making this fitment of the car highly unreliable. The other generations of Ford Focus did exceptionally well and are generally reliable cars that anyone can bank on to use as their daily drivers.

Ford Focus Transmission Problems

Best Ford Focus Year

As discussed in this article throughout, try to avoid buying any Focus manufactured between 2012 to 2016. The Ford Focus from 2017 onwards has had its transmission woes resolved. Subsequently, it had a huge decline in complaints compared to the older generations of this car.

Even if you end up buying a Focus with the Powershift transmission, be sure to enroll in the extended warranty program, as the cost to replace a transmission is about $2000.

Ford Focus Transmission Fix

The third generation of Ford Focus made several of its loyal customers extremely angry and felt unheard. The transmission had them feeling unsafe and they couldn’t rely on their cars. Almost all of the cars with the DPS6 to the Powershift transmission needed frequent servicing and repairs.

The customer complaints have shown that the average amount charged by any dealership concerning a clutch change is anywhere between $1500 to $2000 which makes it very costly and difficult for the customers to get their Focus fixed as this problem keeps on recurring.

If any of the Ford Focus owners want to go for a full transmission replacement, the average cost for that is somewhere between $3500 to $5000. This makes it exceptionally expensive.

Nevertheless, it’s a serious problem for all the people who have leased or bought a Ford Focus. There is no way to completely fix the Powershift transmission. It has an inherent design flaw that causes all these problems.

Ford Focus Lawsuit Update

There was an article accusing Ford, that they knew about the problems caused by the Powershift transmission. It is believed that Ford tried its best to appease its customer base, but in the end, was charged with a class-action lawsuit. This means that they’re liable for all the repairs, and replacements made concerning the DPS6 transmission.

Ford had lost the class action lawsuit and has agreed to give its customers something in exchange for the problems they have faced. Ford has agreed to give a reimbursement of up to $2325 or a discount certificate up to $4650 on any new purchase made at Ford.

Now, to qualify for this $2325 or the exchange certificate, the customers have to collect the receipt of at least 8 parts changed that were related to transmission. They’ll have to report these part replacements at a Ford dealership. If a customer had only 3 visits in relation to the transmission problems, he/she is only entitled to a bare minimum of $200.

Therefore, any customer who wants a refund or compensation for the problems caused by their Focus needs to read the terms and conditions in-depth that are put down by the Ford Motor Company.

Mass Action Lawsuit Against Ford

This was not accepted by some customers. Another mass action complaint has been filed against the Ford Motor Company that compensates the money and time invested by most of the customers for what they are owed by the company.

The mass action makes Ford liable to pay the depreciation, money paid out of the pockets of its consumers, and a possible buyback of the cars that were sold under false pretenses.

Ford Focus Transmission Recall

This is not the first time the Ford Focus has caused problems and distress to its customers. There have been instances of transmission recalls before also where the Ford Motor Company has had issues with its best-selling hatchback, the Ford Focus. There have been several reports with the first-generation Focus as well.

First-Generation Ford Focus

The first-generation Ford Focus was an introduction to a new era and the future of automobiles. Even though the car was futuristic, nimble, and fun to drive, it came with its fair share of problems. The first two years of the Ford Focus were plagued with 12 safety recalls and 7 defect investigations.

The problems faced by the first-generation Focus were that the rear wheels were coming off while driving. Not only that, but the roof pillars were folding in during crashes. Thus, giving the car a really low rating in the crash test. But that is not where the problems stopped, the ignition lock cylinder failed in some cars from that year. This meant that it was almost impossible to turn the car on.

2001 Ford Focus

The 2001 Focus came with its own set of problems like the engines, the quality of the interior, the fuel system, the transmission, etc. There were several complaints that the car was making a loud noise while reversing. Meanwhile, some cars can’t reverse at all.

2002 Ford Focus

The Focus from 2002 also had a major engine defect, which made the intake manifold fail prematurely. Further, the valves could fall into the cylinders, causing a huge problem for the customers who owned this vehicle. This may result in catastrophic engine failure.

2003 Ford Focus

The problem with the 2003 variant of the Focus was mainly with the poor quality interior, engine, brakes, and most importantly, the transmission. The transmission had complaints of premature failure, transmission slipping, jerks or vibrations, faulty transmission mounting, and worse, the gear shift cable breaking.

Ford Focus Transmission Problems: In Conclusion…

Most of the variants of the Ford Focus were outstanding and were lauded all around. They were reliable and performance-driven. The Focus was a futuristic car that is still loved and talked about in the car community.

It remains a big part of Ford’s history and has helped the company grow and learn. This fun-to-drive and nimble beast has won many awards. And, it’s still referred to as the quintessential “Hot Hatch” in the automotive community.

The only thing a buyer needs to worry about is how well he/she chooses their own Ford Focus. Would-be customers need to get the car inspected and finalize the car with caution. Putting the 2012-2016 Powershift models aside, the car is an absolute beast that is nimble. Plus, it’s easy to tame and has more than a few fantastic perks that come with the Focus.

FAQs On Ford Focus Transmission Problems

If you’re still curious to learn more about the Ford Focus transmission problems, our FAQs here might help…

How Much Is A Transmission

If your Ford Focus is acting up and needs a full transmission replacement, it’s not going to be cheap. The average quote, varying between dealers and the gearbox’s condition, would be around $3,500 to $5,000. Although, if you opt for a refurbished or rebuilt Focus transmission instead, you may be able to replace it for around $2,000 or thereabouts. However, Ford’s loss in a recent class-action lawsuit means that you might be entitled to get a reimbursement. Specifically, a reimbursement of $2,325 for owners who’ve had to repair or replace their Focus transmissions out of pocket. Or, you could choose a discount certificate of $4,650 when purchasing a new Ford.

How Much Does It Cost To Fix A Transmission

Fixing transmission-related issues will cost you quite a bit depending on what needs repairing. On average, it’s been noted that owners typically spend between $1,200 to $5,000 on getting a faulty gearbox working again. The former represents more extensive repairs, while the latter is indicative of rebuilding the old transmission or replacing it with a new one. Granted, some transmission repairs can be done cheaply. For example, a transmission fluid change is only going to cost you between $80 to $250. On the other hand, some transmission fluid leaks could be patched up with new seals and gaskets, setting you back between $150 to $200.

How Long Do Transmissions Last

Given that it’s one of the most important and complex components of a car, the transmission is generally designed to last quite a while. With good care and regular maintenance, a typical gearbox could easily last over 200,000 miles. If you take really good care of it, you might even be able to stretch it beyond 300,000 miles. Given that the average American drives about 15,000 miles per year, that’s 20+ years of reliable ownership. However, the lifespan of a transmission will also depend on its design and build quality. A late Ford Focus and its problematic transmissions, for example, might find it tough to sometimes even crack the 100,000-mile mark.

How Long Does A Ford Focus Last

While the Ford Focus has suffered from numerous transmission-related issues in the past, it’s generally a decently reliable car. And, rather robust, too. With regular servicing and good care, a typical Ford Focus could handily last between 200,000 to 250,000 miles. Seeing that most Americans average around 15,000 miles of driving each year, that would mean that a Focus could last them up to 13 to 16 or more years. In fact, there are even some Focuses out there that have clocked in over 400,000 and even past 500,000 miles. A thorough restoration and rebuild will be needed once it breaks that barrier, though.

How To Check Ford Focus Transmission Fluid

While some cars might make it rather tough to check the transmission fluid, it’s pretty straightforward on a Ford Focus. Just pop open the hood and try to find a transmission fluid reservoir. With the Ford Focus, it’s usually located near the front of the engine compartment. And, sitting pretty close to the air filter housing – just make sure that you don’t mistake it for the engine oil reservoir! Once you’ve found the transmission fluid reservoir, you should be able to remove a dipstick – similar to engine oil. From here, you can carefully take a look at the transmission fluid levels and conditions.


  • Larry Windom Says

    Just brought my 2014 Focus in to dealer for tranny/clutch repairs for the second time. The good news is that the first repair was covered and the second repair will be as well. Good for Ford for standing behind their product. I just wish that my new Focus would have been as good as my 2000 Focus which I just sent to the junkyard this past summer with just under 450,000 miles (!) and virtually no issues for the 21 years that I owned her. I loved that little red car!

    • Zack Norman Says

      Thanks for the comment, Larry Windom!

      Wow, 450+k miles on a Focus is insane! Sad to hear that it’s gone now, but I hope that new Focus has been serving you well. Glad to hear that you’ve gotten all those transmission problems fixed, too!

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