Used Ford Focus review: 2011 to 2018 (Mk3) - Reliability and common problems

The Ford Focus is merely average for reliability, according to owners, but the same goes for key rivals

Carbuyer Rating

3.6 out of 5

Reliability and common problems Rating

3.0 out of 5

The Ford Focus is hugely popular and it was a big seller when new, so there should be no issue finding parts and there are Ford dealers and specialists all over the country.

The car’s main competitor has always been the Volkswagen Golf, and while it seems the Ford falls behind the Volkswagen for reliability, it’s not far behind. Owners reported that the Focus wasn’t great for reliability, but it wasn’t the worst either. So many people own a Focus that there are bound to be stories of them going wrong at some point.

How reliable is the Ford Focus?

The Focus doesn’t have any huge issues, but older models may suffer from the usual wear-and-tear or niggles that come with age, just like any used car.

The Mk3 Focus is a little more costly to keep maintained than previous versions, but servicing costs are on a par with a Vauxhall Asra and you should be able to find a garage that’s able to beat Ford main dealer prices easily, as the car is so common and parts are cheap.

Most of the engines of the latest Focus use a cambelt, and this will need changing every eight years at a cost of around £600.

Are there any common problems or things to look out for?

Although owners told us that reliability was merely average, there are actually rather few common problems to be aware of - the Focus is generally built well. You may find that getting issues sorted is not as smooth of a process as it is with other brands, though, because dealers have a reputation for an impersonal approach.

Check for coolant leaks, because the thermostat housing can drop liquid, but this is an easy fix. You should also check that a model fitted with stop-start turns the engine on and off easily when you stop: this system is prone to failure when the battery gets low. 

Other common issues include, issues with the automatic gearbox, power steering failure and clutch problems.

What about recalls?

The Mk3 Focus was recalled quite a lot, which sounds worrying, but as long as all the work has been carried out you shouldn’t have to worry about the issues identified and rectified. Things like the coolant leaks, which could cause serious engine trouble, and a broken clutch pressure plate were sorted under recall.

What do owners think?

When it was available new, the Mk3 Focus finished in a disappointing 102nd place in our 2016 Driver Power satisfaction survey. Owners reported average reliability but reasonable running costs, and say that build quality could be better.

Then in 2017, of the owners who responded, 7.7% reported experiencing a problem with their car at least once. Owners praised the handling and connectivity, but were less impressed with the ride comfort, exterior styling and practicality, marking down the popular hatchback for its ageing interior and poor build quality.

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