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Ford’s models have roamed American streets for over 100 years, meaning there is no shortage of automaker’s used cars. However, not every Ford car, truck, SUV, or minivan is a winner. Check out these six potentially problematic Ford models with some of the most significant driver complaints, like the 2004 Ford Explorer, 2014 Focus, and 2014 Escape.  

Are any of Ford’s vehicles reliable?

Many of Ford’s models are reliable and affordable alternatives to options from other legacy automakers like Chevrolet or Honda. However, these six models aren’t exceedingly reliable, per owner complaints:

  • 2002 Ford Explorer
  • 2004 Ford Explorer
  • 2014 Ford Focus
  • 2013 Ford Escape
  • 2012 Ford Focus
  • 2014 Ford Escape
A series of Ford models, including several 2004 Ford Explorer SUVs line a lot.
2004 Ford Explorers | Mike Mergen, Bloomberg via Getty Images

According to, the 2002 and 2004 Ford Explorer rank on the list of the most problematic cars in the United States, taking the No.1 and No. 10 spots, respectively. In addition to the Explorer, the 2012 and 2014 Ford Focus exhibit many owner complaints. 

Moreover, the 2013 and 2014 Escapes racked up enough reports of faults and issues to make the list. As a result, Ford is the automaker with the most significant number of problematic models on the compilation of the “Top 20 Worst Problem Vehicles.” Furthermore, the evaluators labeled four out of six of these vehicles as “avoid it like the plague.” 

Is Ford Explorer a reliable car?

A used Ford Explorer is an affordable large SUV prospect for big families, but it might not be reliable enough for your needs, depending on the model year. For instance, the 2002 Ford Explorer took the No. 1 spot on the list of vehicles with owner-reported issues. 

Specifically, the 2002 model exhibits over 1,500 complaints related to transmission issues and nearly 750 pertaining to paint and body problems. Additionally, the most common owner complaint is a transmission failure that could require a replacement costing an average of $2,840. 

Do 2004 Explorers have transmission problems?

The 2004 Ford Explorer’s most common complaints pertain to body and paint issues, but the model’s second most frequent problem is transmission-related. Specifically, 2004 Ford Explorers could require a transmission replacement at around 90,000 miles on average.  

What are the common problems with a 2014 Ford Focus?

The most frequent complaints for the 2014 Ford Focus are transmission-related. However, unlike the early-model Explorers, the 2014 Ford Focus has infrequent failures. Instead, the Focus exhibits more poor operation, like hesitation and grinding.   

A silver 2014 Ford Focus models its front-end styling as it drives down a city street.
2014 Ford Focus | Ford

Are there any problems with the 2013 Ford Escape?

The most frequent owner-reported problem in the 2013 Ford Escape is engine stalling during operation. However, a common fix is a replacement fuel sensor or wiring harness repair, with an average cost of under $1,000.  

Do all 2012 Ford Focus have transmission problems?

While not every 2012 Ford Focus will have transmission problems, around 266 owners have complained about the model’s gearbox. Moreover, the 2012 Focus’ transmission faults could span from too much vibration to a total component failure. RepairPal also shows owners complaining about “hesitation or stumbling” while driving.   

Does the 2014 Ford Escape have any problems?

2014 Ford Escape owners have complained about transmission and engine problems as well as body and paint issues. The most common problems are transmission faults, which could require a replacement at an average of $4,210. 

A silver 2014 Ford Escape shows off its LED lights and front-end styling.
2014 Ford Escape | Ford

While each of these Ford models could be reliable with proper care and preventative maintenance, drivers might be better off opting for a different model or year.


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