Cars

The Worst Ford Fiesta Model Year You Should Never Buy

The small, feisty, and economical Ford Fiesta is fun to drive, and it’s one of Ford’s best-sellers worldwide. For a budget-conscious buyer, a used Fiesta might seem like a smart option. If you plan to buy one, though, you should know about the model year that’s received the most complaints. More importantly, there’s a Fiesta model year that you should avoid entirely because it’s the absolute worst, according to CarComplaints.com.

A lime green Ford Fiesta
Ford Fiesta | SHAUN CURRY/AFP via Getty Images

The Ford Fiesta model year with the most overall complaints

The 2013 Ford Fiesta had the most complaints of all model years. Owners reported 201 problems via 973 complaints. The major problem categories for this model year were issues with the Fiesta’s transmission and engine.

Transmission troubles accounted for more than 60% of the problems that triggered owner complaints. Variations on hesitation, stuttering, and stalling represented the bulk of these problems. In many cases, the car shuddered and jerked as if it was going to stall when the gas pedal was pressed. Some owners had the clutch replaced and several reported having the transmission replaced two or three times.

At the Ford dealerships, the technicians generally offered no explanation for the root cause of the transmission problem. They sometimes told owners that they would have to get used to the transmission. Even more unbelievably, some were advised that the transmission would have to “learn” the owner’s driving style.

These problems occurred early on at around 25,000 miles. Although no data was available for the repair cost, it’s fair to guess that owners paid hundreds of dollars or more to fix the problem. CarComplaints.com gave this category a problem severity rating of “pretty bad”.

Engine problems, while not as numerous as those with the transmission, also affected the 2013 Ford Fiesta. The most troubling aspect of this problem category is the 99 National Highway Traffic Safety Association complaints owners submitted. Problems that put drivers at risk include engine stalling, sudden loss of speed, decreased acceleration, and engine fluid leakage. 

Some of the engine problems are tied in with the transmission problems mentioned previously. NHTSA reported two crashes, four fires, and one injury in this category. The category got the worst severity rating at “really awful.” Again, these problems happened early on at just over 20,000 miles.

The worst model year of all

Inside and out, the 2011 Fiesta had problems so severe it was the worst model year overall. It also earned CarComplaints.com’s “Beware of the Clunker” badge. The irony here is that the 2011 model year was the Ford Fiesta’s first year of availability in North America.

Owners submitted complaints in 174 problem categories and major problem categories were related to the transmission, interior accessories, and engine. 40% percent of the problems were related to the transmission. 

This model year’s transmission was troubled by hesitation, jerking, shuddering, and failure, just like the 2013 Fiesta. Owners were often forced to replace part or all of the transmission. These problems typically cost owners $590, and the average mileage when they happened was around 55,000 miles.

Problems with interior accessories may seem fairly minor compared to those involving the transmission or engine. But many of the issues reported about the 2011 Fiesta’s doors were downright dangerous. Separate components of the car’s door such as the latches, locks, and gaskets all failed. A few owners said that the passenger door flew open while driving. The door problems occurred between 50,000 and 60,000 miles.

The rear seats were also problematic because the head restraints created large blind spots. One crash related to this design defect was submitted to NHTSA. 

Engine problems for this model year resembled those of the 2013 model year and were just as bad, too. NHTSA data for these problems include four crashes, one fire, and seven injuries. Owners experienced engine stalling, lack of power, slipping gears, shuddering, and lurching. As with transmission issues, Ford failed to provide resolutions to these problems for the owners.

Other model years with fewer problems

Don’t despair if you still have your sights set on a Ford Fiesta because other model years have better track records. Ford seemed to have gotten the transmission debacle under control by 2016. The 2016 and 2017 Fiestas have won the “Seal of Awesome” badge on CarComplaints.com. They have only 16 and 3 problem categories, respectively. 

Whether you choose a hatchback or a sedan, you have choices when used car shopping. Just be sure to stay clear of the 2011 Ford Fiesta and also give the 2013 model year a wide berth as well. No matter how enticing a deal is, it’s just not worth the hassles that are associated with these cars.