The Ford Focus Is the Worst Used Ford Vehicle You Should Never Buy

The Ford EcoSport may not be the best Ford offers, but like the Toyota 4Runner, it is at least reliable. However, Ford has often struggled with quality issues in the past. And there’s one recent model, in particular, that’s arguably been a poster child for this. If you’re looking for a used Ford made in the last decade, it’s best to avoid the automatic Ford Focus.

The 2014 Ford Focus’ problems

2011 Ford Focus
2011 Ford Focus | Ford

As part of the Ford Focus’ update in 2011, both it and the Fiesta received new automatic ‘PowerShift’ transmissions. And unfortunately, the dual-clutch transmission was extremely problematic. The 2014 Ford Focus, in particular, suffered so many transmission-related problems, it’s the #9 worst vehicle on CarComplaints.

Dual-clutches can be rougher than more-conventional torque-converter automatics, Car and Driver reports. However, Ford’s decision to use dry clutches, rather than smoother wet clutches, for fuel-efficiency reasons exacerbated the issue.

Numerous owners complained of excessive vibration, shuddering, and grinding noises. Ford Focuses with the dual-clutch would also experience jerky shifting, a slipping clutch, and sometimes a complete failure to get into gear at all. Ford attempted to resolve the issues with software updates and replacing cars’ transmissions completely. 2011-2016 Fiestas and 2012-2016 Focuses were all part of numerous recalls and technical service bulletins.

Ford even bought back roughly $47.4 million worth of vehicles, Car and Driver reports. However, the problems would still reappear. And Ford arguably knew they would from the beginning, according to internal documents obtained by the Detroit Free Press.

After an extended class-action lawsuit, Ford agreed to settle with the roughly 2 million owners of afflicted Fiestas and Focuses, Autoblog reports. They would be able to sell their vehicles back to Ford for up to $22,000 and potentially receive additional financial compensation for their troubles.

Nevertheless, it’s best to avoid any 2014 Ford Focus equipped with the PowerShift transmission.

Other Ford Focus model years to avoid

2011 Ford Focus interior
2011 Ford Focus interior | Ford

Although the 2014 Ford Focus ranks high on CarComplaints’ worst vehicles list, there’s another Ford Focus on it, as well. The 2012 Focus is #13 on that list.

In addition to the transmission problems, 2012 Focus owners report the car is prone to steering issues. The New York Times reports that numerous complaints were filed regarding its electric power steering, which could fail at both low and high speeds and potentially lead to a crash. Ford did issue a steering-related recall for numerous other vehicles, Consumer Affairs reports, but not the Focus.

In addition, 2012-2018 Ford Focuses were also subject to a fuel-system-related recall. A valve in the exhaust system could malfunction, Consumer Reports explains, causing the car to stall. The malfunction could also deform the Focus’s plastic gas tank.

The exceptions

2015 Ford Focus ST
2015 Ford Focus ST | Ford

However, as with the Fiesta, there are some Focuses that are worthy of consideration. Specifically, manually-equipped Focuses, especially the Focus ST.

Although the Focus ST was part of the valve-related recall, the model is otherwise fairly reliable. Focus ST owner forum users report 2014 and earlier models could suffer fuel pump issues, but Car and Driver reports Ford corrected the issue in later models and issued a recall for earlier ones.


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r/FocusST sub-Reddit users do report the car could suffer from low-speed pre-ignition. According to Jason Fenske of Engineering Explained, this is when the fuel inside a cylinder ignites before the spark plug fires. This can cause damage to the car’s pistons and other internals. However, this is an issue that affects essentially any turbocharged car, not just the Focus ST. As long as drivers don’t lug the engine by flooring it in high gear at low RPM, it won’t occur.

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