The Ford Focus is a compact car that Ford released in 1999 in North America for its 2000 production year. It had an extra year of life in Europe before that. It's been available in many body styles including three and five-door hatchback, four door sedan, five-door estate, two-door coupes and a European two-door coupe cabriolet. It has long been one of Ford's most popular vehicles, with sales hitting nearly a quarter of a million units in the US alone in some years. Even though it's been a very popular model, that doesn't mean it's without its problems though. The Ford Focus has definitely had some issues with his transmission over the years.
Even though the focus has been in production for 20 years now, we won't focus on a full production run because there's no sense going all the way back to the year 2000. A car that all is bound to have some kind of issues anyway. For our purposes, we'll start with the 2005 Ford Focus.
2005 Ford Focus
For the most part, there were not a ton of transmission issues reported with a 2005 Ford Focus, but there definitely were some. A number of drivers reported difficulty shifting into gear with their Ford. This typically happened around 78,000 miles, and the cost of repairing it was just over $2,300.
2006 Ford Focus
There were fewer issues with the transmission in the 2006 Ford Focus compared to the 2005 Ford Focus. Small problems like the car jerking when it went into gear, and difficulty shifting came up. For the most part, this was not a major concern with the 2006 model year.
2007 Ford Focus
The inability to shift was the main problem with transmission in the 2007 model year of the Ford Focus. That's not to say that it happened a lot, but it was more frequent than any other transmission issues for this particular model year.
2008 Ford Focus
The transmission issues with the 2008 Ford Focus were a little more serious than the previous year. Some drivers reported a total transmission failure that occurred on average pause. The cost for repairing this problem was about $2,700.
2009 Ford Focus
The 2009 Ford Focus model year was a pretty reliable one overall. They were minimal issues with transmission reported, a couple of failed transmission or hesitations on downshifting. Compared to any other car that's likely to be on the road at the same time, they were not statistically significant. All things being equal, this was a pretty good year for the Ford Focus.
2010 Ford Focus
Like 2009, the 2010 production year for the Ford Focus was not a bad one at all. There were very minor issues reported with the transmission. Some drivers had difficulty shifting, some reported issues with shaking while it shifted, but it was very minor overall. All things being equal, 2010 was also a pretty good year for the Ford Focus.
2011 Ford Focus
Ford continued the trend of making reliable cars in 2011. This was another good year with very few issues related to the transmission. Some drivers reported problems with the transmission stuttering or hesitating, and difficulty shifting was another issue that popped up. It was not frequent by any means however, so it's safe to say that 2011 is also an OK model year.
If you're in the market for a much older Ford Focus, it looks like 2009, 2010, and 2011 we're all pretty reliable and problem-free. Keep in mind of course that these are all about 10 years old at this point, so there's still a chance that they suffered some additional wear and tear in the past decade.
2012 Ford Focus
A new generation of Ford Focus started in 2012, and it did not work out very well. While the previous three years of Ford Focus models had been good, the 2012 Ford Focus was something of a nightmare.
Transmission problems plagued the 2012 Ford Focus. In fact, if you head to CarComplaints.com and look it up, they actually use the words ‘avoid like the plague’ when describing the 2012 Ford Focus. This car just had too many issues to deal with that were very expensive to fix.
Multiple transmission issues cropped up for the 2012 Ford Focus including shuttering and vibration that occurred before reaching 50,000 miles. The cost of repairing this was about $1,600 for most drivers. Congress reported having to replace the transmission several times only for the same issues to continue repeating. At least one driver had reported that they had to replace the transmission three times by the time they had reached 49,000 miles.
Drivers frequently mentioned issues with shifting that ended up having to repair cost of about $1,600. Some drivers had the clutch replaced four different times before they reached 100,000 miles. The first couple of replacements were still under warranty, but after that they were costing over $1,000 each. If you had the same repair four times, you're going to be very reluctant to want to pay $1,000 or more to get it done again.
Total transmission failure was not unheard of with his model as well. Driver's experience this at under 65,000 miles
Ford Focus Transmission Lawsuit
The 2012 to 2016 model years of the focus had a dual-clutch automatic transmission that became the subject of a class action lawsuit as well as a number of individual lawsuits. About 2 million customers who owned or leased a car with that powershift transmission were in line to get some kind of repayment from Ford because of the problems with the transmission. The lawsuit went ahead in the year 2019, at which point it came out that Ford knew the powershift transmission had problems before they even started producing the 2012 model.
A development engineer working for Ford made it known that they could not achieve a drivable calibration before they went into production. The clutch torque delivery must be improved. That was a direct quote that was given to the company six months before 2012 Focus went on to market.
Because Ford knew that the transmission wasn't going to work, that made them liable for the lawsuit.
The shuddering feeling while accelerating was something that most drivers reported with the 2012 model. Shifting was also wrong and caused more vibrations. The lawsuit started moving forward around 2017 relating to this problem and Ford made some improvements to their power shift transmission after 2016. But all the vehicles made before that time were still subject to serious issues.
The class action lawsuit relating to this was a $30 million settlement. That's not a lot of money split among about 2 million people, but it was something. Because that mount is so low, a Michigan law firm was going to set about suing Ford individually on behalf of 20,000 different owners. All of this is still pending, however.
Suffice it to say that the 2012 Ford Focus is a vehicle you should stay extremely far away from. At this point, knowing everything there is to know about how poorly this vehicle performed and the numerous problems that the transmission face, there is no excuse for getting involved in this problematic vehicle.
2013 Ford Focus
The 2013 Ford Focus was not as bad as the 2012, but that's not saying much. It was still a problematic vehicle with very bad transmission. The jerking, vibrating issue with the transmission was still prevalent throughout this model year, and not much was done to fix it on Ford’s end. Hundreds of drivers of this model experience the same problem, and carcomplaints.com list this year as a clunker that you should avoid as well.
2014 Ford Focus
This model year was just about as bad as 2012 in terms of transmission issues. Ford had yet to really address the problem, so hundreds upon hundreds of drivers have experienced problems with hesitation and jerking while shifting, shuddering in the transmission, slipping gears, grinding noises, and outright transmission failure. Just as with the earlier years that suffered this problem, this happened very early in the vehicle's life. Many drivers had this problem at under 25,000 miles. The repair costs were around $1,500 and went out from there.
If you're in the market for a used Ford Focus, this is definitely another year that you want to stay far away from.
It's worth noting that the 2014 Ford Focus was subject to 10 different recalls, and none of them actually related to the transmission. There were just so many other problems with this model year from the potential for doors open while driving to wiring leading to engine stalls to steering gears missing ball bearings. There's really nothing good to say about the 2014 Ford Focus.
2015 Ford Focus
This model year was better than the 2014 model year, but it still was not a good one. Many drivers had problems with the transmission here as well just not in the same numbers that 2012 to 2014 drivers had to deal with. The big problem in 2015 was again the transmission shuddering. This typically happened under 22,000 miles.
2016 Ford Focus
Even though the transmission issues were clearing up with the Ford Focus by 2016, they still hadn't gone away completely. Many drivers had problems with the transmission slipping and shuddering and lurching. Some reported that it rolled backwards while they were in gear, and of course there was still a grinding noise.
Ford really hadn't got their act together even though they had a few years to try to work through the problem at this point.
2017 Ford Focus
By 2017 Ford had managed to work out some of the problems with the transmission, and this model year was performing much better than previous ones. There were still some problems with the transmission shuddering and gears slipping, but they were much less frequent than they had been in previous years.
2018 Ford Focus
2018 marked the beginning of a new generation for the Ford Focus, and Ford finally took the initiative to improve the transmission over the past generation. A handful of drivers reported problems shifting with the 2018 Focus but it was insignificant overall. If you're in the market for a Ford Focus that does not have transmission problems, the 2018 is probably a good place to look.
2019 Ford Focus
Believe it or not, the Ford Focus from 2019 didn't actually have any problems with the transmission. It only took the better part of a decade, but Ford finally figured out how to make a transmission that worked. This is definitely a reliable year, that you can expect to perform pretty well. Of course, being almost brand-new, you're going to be paying a bit of a premium compared to some older model years, but if you have your heart set on a Ford Focus, this is much better than that big block of years with serious transmission problems.
The Bottom Line
As you can see, Ford clearly had some major issues with the Ford Focus between 2012 and 2017. Those model years are just so unreliable that you can't risk buying a vehicle produced during that time. It's not going to be worth it to you overall. It's almost guaranteed that something is wrong with the vehicle if you do pick one up because, as we've shown, Ford literally knew this was a problem before they even began protection and they chose not to do anything about it.
Because Ford demonstrated not just negligence but indifference, many drivers ended up suffering as a result. There don't seem to be any serious accidents that led to death reported that were related to this particular issue, but the inconvenience and the financial toll that it took, and the potential that it could have caused a serious problem are bad enough. Ford should have known better, and you shouldn't bother to reward them for their poor choices.
Ford demonstrated that their later models, starting in 2018, were more reliable. And the older versions from 2011 and earlier have been fairly reliable as well. Keep that in mind if you're in the market for a Ford Focus, and don't fall for a car that is known to be extremely unreliable.