My girlfriend needed a new car back in 2012 and bought a 2013 Ford Focus Titanium Hatchback as soon as that year’s lineup was first available because she really liked the voice activated system and the idealist future it made a person desire. She arguably spent the most money you could on that particular model (though she did get a discount from my X-plan pricing) and we began having problems with the vehicle(not just the MyFord Touch problems that everyone had/has) on day one (seriously). This is a short documentary on problems and fixes since we got the car back from the most recent service department visit on 2014-02-20.
Door handle sensors:
We had problems with the door handle sensors unlocking the car. The locking functionality worked perfect the entire time, but the unlocking seemed to have moments when it just refused to work. After refusing to unlock, then upon unlocking the car manually or via the key fob, driving the car, and trying the door handle unlock again on the next entry it would work perfectly fine. We were told numerous times that they “might be dirty and need cleaning”. On our last trip, they finally looked into the issue and said they fixed the handle sensors. The handle sensors actually seem to unlock the car all the time now so the door handle problem may have be fixed – over a year after owning the vehicle and having these issues.
Didn’t start via key fob:
Every time this happens, the car acts like you’ve done the button press combination correctly, flashes the lights accordingly, and then instead of starting the car just honks and flashes the lights once.
- 02-22 (two days after we got it back) – no start via key fob.
- 02-24 – no start via key fob.
- 03-01 – no start via key fob.
The car either shifts horribly at unpredictable times, regardless of being warmed up or cold (the only predictability is that it seems to happen more often when warmed up), or forgets which gear it should be in at its current state and is in a much higher gear causing the car to nearly stall itself out on acceleration and then abruptly hard-shift into the lower gear only after further acceleration is applied. This “current gear” problem happens regardless of driving style – Sunday driver-style slow acceleration or city-style moderate acceleration does not change the shifting pattern when this does occur (acceleration amount does not cause the downshift to a lower gear to be less abrupt and terribly “hard”).
This gearing problem makes it honestly seem like the car has the wrong “current gear” value – it usually happens after slowing, coming to a stop, or coasting – as if it is still using the previous “high” gear, and then has no idea what to do when acceleration is applied and it is nearly stalling itself.
- 02-23 – Still shifting terrible when coming from highway driving. After some highway driving, driving at a lower speed on non-highway roads causes the car to shudder and mis-shift when changing gears. Was able to reproduce this twice.
- 03-01 – Terrible at shifting again today
- 03-08 – Terrible at shifting after highway mileage again.
- 03-09 – Terrible at shifting from not-quite-cold start going down sidestreets. Today it acted just like it used to before the 02-20-2014 fix – shifting terrible from a dead stop like it was in 3rd gear, then hard shifting into first after a few moments of acceleration at 3rd.
At low speeds you can also hear grinding noises when shifting. I can’t tell if this is the grill active-shutter or if the noises are the transmission, either way the amount of noises (rattling at a stop when the car is fully warmed-up, vibrations in the cabin that are obnoxious over the Bluetooth phone connection, and weird grinding noises seemingly coming from underneath) coming from this brand new vehicle are unsettling. After only a year of ownership and having been in the shop 4-5 times, the first time within weeks of owning the car (we waited to see if the issues would just go away), this is easily the worst first new car buying experience we could’ve had.
The shop representative we worked with actually mentioned to us that he recommends getting the car-rental plan when buying these new cars with all the new fancy “features” on them that may break. If they might break – why are they shipping with a car, that if properly maintained, could last a lifetime? This may sound like idealism, but this is a $30,000 vehicle. I keep vehicles for a long time, and I bring vehicles that should’ve been “retired” back into service for years (my ’97 Ford Escort lx is a great example). When we bought this vehicle, we had no intention of getting rid of it…ever. With documented problems emerging two weeks after (we had the problems the day of purchase and going forward), how could Ford not see this as a serious problem and just give us a new vehicle?
And on another entirely different customer service note: why the hell should we, or anyone, have to pay for a rental when we purchased a $30,000 car that is in repair due to manufacturer defects? (On our most recent visit, the dealership finally offered to provide a rental, which I’ll get to in a moment.)
The Ford dealer repair shop we visit continues to tell us these problems aren’t out of the ordinary with these new vehicles and that they’re “tech” problems, as the transmission has a control module that runs software. If this software is running dependent on sensors and data feeds, could it not be that the software is not a problem, but instead the data sources? We’ve had software updates and fixes applied multiple times, yet the control modules and all related data sources have not been replaced to my knowledge. My software development mind tells me – if you’ve “fixed” the code multiple times and the issue is still occurring, you either haven’t fixed the code and need better testing, or the data sources are bad and the code is possibly behaving correctly. My girlfriend even rented a 2013 Ford Focus the last time her car was in the shop (she was finally provided a rental by the dealer), the same year and model as she currently owns, and yet it had zero of the same problems, so the code apparently works.
At this point, even if the problems were fixed I’d want to have a new transmission due to all the unnecessary wear and tear that these problems have placed on it.
Our 1997 Ford Escort has less weird noises and has been in the shop less times. This ’97 escort was revived from over a year of complete slumber (in Michigan even) and cost a mere $300 + $500 or so in repairs I initially performed.
If you’re having similar new-car problems and happen to live in Michigan, you may want to look at this.