Here Are The 5 Ford Focus Years To Avoid

Ford Focus is a widely recognized vehicle due to its compact design, commendable performance, and fuel efficiency. It’s a car that has captured the hearts of many since its initial production in 1998. However, like all vehicles, not all years were golden for the Ford Focus.

This blog post aims to highlight the best years of the Ford Focus, outlining the key features that made them standout models. This will guide you in making an informed choice if you plan on purchasing a Ford Focus.


What Are The Best Years For The Ford Focus?

1.     2012 Ford Focus

The 2012 Ford Focus marked the beginning of the third generation and it saw a complete redesign from the previous model years. Its aesthetic was refreshingly modern and aerodynamic, with an appealing interior that boasted a high level of quality materials and builds.

The 2012 Focus featured an all-new 2.0L four-cylinder engine that delivered 160 horsepower and 146 lb-ft of torque. The fuel efficiency was impressive, especially with the Focus SFE (Super Fuel Economy) package, which was rated at 28/40 mpg city/highway. The handling was crisp, making it a fun car to drive.

2012 Ford Focus 2.0L engine.

2.     2015 Ford Focus

In 2015, Ford launched another redesign of the Focus, this time introducing updated technology, improved interiors, and the efficient EcoBoost engine. The standard 2.0L four-cylinder engine was tweaked for even better fuel economy, and the new 1.0L EcoBoost three-cylinder engine option offered unparalleled efficiency for the compact car class.

The 2015 model also received an updated look, with a stylish, bold front end, and it was praised for its smooth and responsive handling.

3.     2016 Ford Focus RS

2016 marked a significant year for the Ford Focus, especially for performance enthusiasts, with the introduction of the Focus RS (Rally Sport). It was a high-performance variant with an aggressive look and an extremely powerful 2.3L EcoBoost engine, delivering an outstanding 350 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque.

This all-wheel-drive hatchback became an instant hit among performance car enthusiasts due to its exhilarating speed, exceptional handling, and its Drift Mode – a first in a production car.

4.     2018 Ford Focus

In 2018, the Ford Focus introduced the fourth-generation models with advanced safety and tech features. This year was highlighted by the updated sleek and modern design, an expansive list of available safety features like adaptive cruise control and active park assist, and tech features like the SYNC 3 infotainment system.

Engine options were broad and efficient, ranging from a 1.0L EcoBoost to a 2.3L for the RS model. The interior design was refined, offering more room and better quality materials.

5.     2020 Ford Focus

The 2020 Ford Focus continued the model’s evolution with a focus on improved interior comfort, advanced safety features, and technology. One of the significant additions was the Ford Co-Pilot360, a suite of advanced safety features that included automated emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, and lane-keeping assist.

For performance enthusiasts, the Focus ST provided a perfect blend of everyday usability and sporty performance with a 2.3L EcoBoost engine.

2020 Ford Focus exterior view.

Please note that the reliability of a used car can depend on many factors, including how the previous owner maintained the car, so it’s essential to have any used car thoroughly inspected by a trusted mechanic before you buy.

What Are The Worst Years For The Ford Focus?

1.     2000 Ford Focus

Just two years into its production, the 2000 Ford Focus faced a considerable number of issues, making it one of the worst years for this model. Consumers reported various problems, including ignition switch failures, brake system issues, and concerns with the engine cooling system.

Additionally, this year’s model had significant recalls, including one related to the rear wheel hub retaining nut and another for a defective seatback recliner.

2.     2001 Ford Focus

The 2001 model year continued the trend of the previous year with numerous issues. The most common problems included engine failure, a high idle speed that could lead to unintentional acceleration, and issues with the locks and latches. Many owners reported problems related to the car’s ignition switch, which often required a complete replacement.

3.     2002 Ford Focus

In 2002, the Ford Focus started seeing significant transmission problems. Many owners reported instances where the vehicle wouldn’t go into gear, difficulties with shifting, and complete transmission failure. Engine issues continued to plague this year’s model as well, with several reports of the engine stalling or shutting down while driving.

4.     2013 Ford Focus

The 2013 Ford Focus was marked by severe issues with the PowerShift automatic transmission, dubbed DPS6. The dual-clutch transmission suffered from shuddering, hesitation, and premature wear issues, leading to class-action lawsuits and a major black eye for the model. Despite its modern aesthetic and impressive fuel economy, the transmission issues significantly tainted the reputation of the 2013 Ford Focus.

5.     2014 Ford Focus

The 2014 Ford Focus was another problematic year for this model. This year saw a continuation of the PowerShift automatic transmission issues, which included jerky shifting, hesitation, and transmission failure.

In addition to transmission problems, owners reported various electrical issues like problems with the car’s radio, key fob malfunctions, and a persistent check engine light.

The woman set up her car radio.

Remember, when purchasing a used car, the maintenance history and how it was driven and taken care of by its previous owner(s) can often be just as important as the year, make, and model of the vehicle. Always take the car for a thorough test drive and consider having it inspected by a trusted mechanic before making your final decision.

What Years Have The Most Complaints?

Consumer complaint data indicates that the most problematic years for the Ford Focus are 2012, 2013, and 2014. The 2012 model year holds the dubious honor of having the most complaints overall, primarily due to widespread issues with the transmission and clutch.

The 2013 and 2014 model years also received high complaint volumes, predominantly for similar transmission issues related to Ford’s PowerShift dual-clutch automatic.

What Problems Do Ford Focuses Have?

1.     Transmission Issues (2012-2016 models)

Ford Focus models from 2012 to 2016 equipped with the PowerShift dual-clutch automatic transmission have experienced a variety of problems, including shuddering, stalling, and difficulty changing gears. These issues prompted multiple class-action lawsuits and a hefty fine from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

2.     Ignition Switch Failure (Early 2000s models)

Ford Focus models from the early 2000s, notably the 2000 and 2001 models, frequently suffered from ignition switch failures. This led to problems starting the vehicle and occasional stalling while driving.

Car ignition locks close-up view.

3.     Engine Problems (2000-2002 models)

Earlier Ford Focus models had various engine problems, such as engines that ran roughly or even shut down while driving. In some cases, engines failed completely, requiring costly replacements.

4.     Suspension Issues (2000-2003 models)

Ford Focus models from 2000 to 2003 reported numerous issues with the suspension system, including premature wear of the lower front ball joints and rear coil springs. This led to unusual noises and a less stable driving experience.

5.     Faulty Door Latches (2012-2015 models)

Some Ford Focus owners reported problems with door latches, where doors wouldn’t close or unexpectedly opened while driving. This issue led to a large recall in 2016.

6.     Electronic Problems (2012-2014 models)

Owners of 2012-2014 Ford Focus models have reported various electronic issues, including problems with the infotainment system, dashboard displays, and key fobs.

7.     Fuel System Problems (2000-2001 models)

The 2000 and 2001 models had issues with the fuel system, including problems with the fuel pump and fuel lines that led to leaks and potential fire risks.

8.     Clutch Failure (2013-2016 models)

Many Ford Focus models from 2013 to 2016 equipped with manual transmissions experienced premature clutch wear and failure. This often led to difficulties in shifting gears and occasionally complete loss of power transmission.

As always, the individual condition of a used car can depend on many factors, including the maintenance history and how it was driven by its previous owner(s). It’s crucial to thoroughly inspect a used car and ideally have it examined by a trusted mechanic before finalizing your purchase.

What Are The Best Alternatives To The Ford Focus?

1.     Honda Civic

A standout in the compact car class, the Honda Civic offers a reliable alternative to the Ford Focus. Known for its strong reliability record, excellent fuel efficiency, and high safety ratings, the Civic is a good option for those who prioritize durability and long-term value.

Its interior is comfortable and upscale, and the car offers a smooth, engaging ride. The Civic also offers a variety of powertrains to choose from, including a performance-oriented Si model and a highly efficient hybrid variant.

2.     Mazda 3

The Mazda 3 stands out in the compact segment for its superior driving dynamics and upscale interior. It comes with a well-tuned suspension that makes it a joy to drive, while still offering a comfortable ride.

The Mazda 3 offers two engine options, including a powerful turbocharged variant in the higher trims. The cabin is quiet and well-designed, and the standard infotainment system is user-friendly.

3.     Toyota Corolla

The Toyota Corolla is a perennial contender in the compact car segment, thanks to its reputation for dependability and value. While it may not be as sporty as the Ford Focus, the Corolla offers a comfortable ride, excellent fuel efficiency, and a spacious cabin.

Its standard safety equipment list is extensive, even on the base model, and it comes with a user-friendly infotainment system. Plus, Toyota’s strong reliability ratings mean you can expect a Corolla to last a long time with regular maintenance.

2020 Toyota Corolla exterior view.

4.     Hyundai Elantra

The Hyundai Elantra offers a compelling mix of value, comfort, and technology. It comes standard with many features that are optional on other compact cars, including a touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

The Elantra also boasts a comfortable and quiet cabin, a smooth ride, and good fuel economy. Hyundai’s 10-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty is one of the best in the industry, offering peace of mind to buyers.

5.     Subaru Impreza

The Subaru Impreza is a solid alternative to the Ford Focus, particularly for those who live in areas with harsh weather conditions. Unlike most compact cars, the Impreza comes standard with all-wheel drive, providing excellent traction in rain and snow.

It offers a comfortable ride, a roomy interior, and standard features like a touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Plus, the Impreza has good safety ratings and an available suite of advanced safety features.

What Year Ford Focus Is The Most Reliable?

As per available data up to my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, the 2018 Ford Focus is generally considered the most reliable model year. This year marked the debut of the fourth-generation Focus, which introduced significant improvements in terms of safety, technology, and build quality.

It featured a range of efficient engines, a sophisticated infotainment system, and a suite of advanced safety features. However, always remember that individual vehicle conditions can vary based on factors like maintenance history and how the car was used by previous owners. It’s always a good idea to have a trusted mechanic inspect a used car before purchase.

What Years Of Ford Focus To Stay Away From?

In the history of the Ford Focus, several model years stand out for their problems and complaints, which potential buyers might wish to avoid.

1.     2000-2002 Ford Focus

The early years of the Ford Focus were plagued with a variety of problems, including ignition failures, cooling system issues, and suspension concerns. Several recalls also affected these model years, making them less attractive to prospective buyers.

2.     2012 Ford Focus

While the 2012 model year marked a significant redesign with a sleek new look and improved technology, it is notorious for its problematic dual-clutch automatic transmission, known as the PowerShift transmission. This transmission was prone to shuddering, hesitation, and in some cases, complete failure.

3.     2013-2014 Ford Focus

These model years continued the trend of transmission issues seen in the 2012 model, along with additional problems like malfunctioning door latches and electronic glitches. The transmission problems were particularly significant and led to various lawsuits and a substantial drop in customer satisfaction.

2012 Ford Focus detail of driver’s side door panel.

What Is The Best Year To Buy A Used Ford Focus?

Considering the available data up to September 2021, the 2018 model year is widely regarded as the best year to buy a used Ford Focus. This was the year Ford introduced the fourth generation of the Focus, offering significant improvements over previous models.

The 2018 Focus saw a major revamp in design, upgraded safety features, and an advanced infotainment system. Moreover, the diverse range of engine options and configurations (sedan or hatchback) provides buyers with plenty of choices based on their specific needs.

Which Model Of Ford Focus Is Best?

If you’re asking about the best Ford Focus in terms of performance, then the Ford Focus RS stands atop the lineup. The Focus RS, introduced in the 2016 model year, is a high-performance hot hatch variant, powered by a 2.3L EcoBoost engine producing an impressive 350 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. It features all-wheel drive and a sport-tuned suspension, providing exceptional handling, especially in high-speed conditions.

For those seeking a balance of performance and everyday usability, the Ford Focus ST could be a suitable choice. It comes with a 2.0L EcoBoost engine that produces 252 horsepower, offering a spirited drive while maintaining a higher level of comfort and practicality compared to the RS.

In terms of reliability and value, the 2018 Ford Focus could be considered the best, as it offers advanced safety features, a modern design, and a well-reviewed infotainment system, making it a well-rounded choice.

Keep in mind that “best” can vary depending on individual preferences and needs, including aspects such as performance, comfort, fuel efficiency, and affordability. Always conduct a thorough inspection and, if possible, a test drive when considering a used vehicle to ensure it meets your specific requirements.

Which Models Of Ford Focus Can Serve As Good Alternatives To The Problematic Years?

The 2018 Ford Focus is often highlighted as the most reliable model year. This was the start of the fourth generation, featuring notable enhancements in safety, technology, and overall build quality. It offered a variety of engine options and came equipped with a sophisticated infotainment system and an advanced suite of safety features.

2018 Ford Focus hatchback wheel.

What Are The Main Issues Associated With The 2000-2003 Ford Focus Models?

The main issues with the 2000-2003 Ford Focus models revolve around the ignition switch, engine, and suspension system. These models often had ignition switch failures, leading to problems with starting the vehicle and occasional stalling. Engine issues, such as rough running or sudden shutdowns, were also common.

Lastly, these models had numerous suspension problems, including premature wear of the lower front ball joints and rear coil springs, causing unusual noises and a less stable driving experience.

How Were The Ford Focus Models From 2012 To 2016 Affected By Transmission Problems?

Ford Focus models from 2012 to 2016 equipped with the PowerShift dual-clutch automatic transmission were widely reported to have problems. Owners frequently experienced issues like shuddering, stalling, and difficulty changing gears.

These transmission issues were severe enough to prompt multiple class-action lawsuits and a hefty fine from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

What Were The Main Issues Associated With The Ford Focus’s PowerShift Dual-Clutch Automatic Transmission?

The main issues with Ford’s PowerShift dual-clutch automatic transmission, which was used in the 2012 to 2016 Focus models, were shuddering, stalling, and difficulty changing gears. In more extreme cases, complete transmission failure was reported.

These issues were substantial enough to lead to multiple class-action lawsuits and resulted in Ford paying a substantial fine to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.


The Ford Focus has experienced a mixed reputation over the years, with some models offering excellent reliability and performance, while others have been plagued with notable issues.

When considering purchasing a used Ford Focus, it’s crucial to understand the history of specific model years, their associated problems, and the most common complaints. The 2018 model year stands out as a good choice for a used Ford Focus due to its improvements and enhanced features.

However, alternatives like the Honda Civic, Mazda 3, and Hyundai Elantra also offer excellent value in the compact car segment. Always remember, the condition and maintenance history of a specific car often play a more significant role in its longevity and reliability than its model year or brand reputation alone.

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About Matthew Webb

Hi, I am Matthew! I am a dedicated car nerd! During the day, I am a journalist, at night I enjoy working on my 2 project cars. I have been a car nerd all my life, and am excited to share my knowledge with you!