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Ford Focus Transmission Problems

pega1pega1 Posts: 1
edited January 2014 in Ford
Hi everyone... My girlfriend owns a 2003 Focus. (I don't know the trim, but it's a 4 dour sedan with the SOHC engine.)


Anyhow, the automatic transmission slips badly between all gears, esp. when accelerating harder. The car is under warranty but the dealership appears to me to do everything (and charge for it) but to actually get their hands dirty with the tranny...


Any suggestions? How do you get a Ford dealership to stop pulling your chain?


Thanks! J


  • marjkmarjk Posts: 1
    Wow - I thought it was just me! I have a 2004 ZX5 (4-door hatchback) and am having similar problems. I bought the car used (17K) in September and about three weeks ago started having problems with the same kind of gear slippage you describe. My car has been at the dealership for two weeks now because they claim that these cars have never had transmission problems and Ford Motor Corp. is dragging their heels about giving them permission to put in a new tranny. This is a highly recommended dealer so I'm a little dismayed. Any input would be appreciated!

  • bt2882bt2882 Posts: 1
    Hey, I have a 200 ford focus, and I have the same problem with the transmission slipping. I would be driving and then suddenly i am in neutral and the Multifunction light will come up. I checked with the dealership and said that nothing was wrong. Did you ever get that problem fixed?
  • bk40bk40 Posts: 9
    I am having similar difficulties with my Ford Focus ZX4 ST, 2.3 liter engine. It broke down with 700 (yes, 700) miles on the odometer. I was upshifting from first to second when the shifter refused to go into gear. After a new slave cylinder did not resolve the problem, the dealer determined I needed a new clutch assembly. It took more than three weeks to replace the clutch assembly. The car has broken down three times since then, and still has less than 2000 miles. The dealer currently working on the car informed me that the clip which attaches the shift cable to the transmission was of defective design. A new clip has been sent to this dealer (the third to work on the car). As I write this, I am waiting to hear from this dealer to find out when the car will be fixed.

    While I didn't have the clutch problem you described, I did notice odd smells (like burning plastic) coming from one of the dashboard vents after the second fix attempt. I too ascribed the smell to "burning off the newness". Perhaps this is not related to the clutch at all. But for what it's worth, my original dealer thought he had to replace the clutch when that was not the problem.
  • akanglakangl Posts: 3,650
    While I didn't have the clutch problem you described, I did notice odd smells (like burning plastic) coming from one of the dashboard vents after the second fix attempt. I too ascribed the smell to "burning off the newness". Perhaps this is not related to the clutch at all. But for what it's worth, my original dealer thought he had to replace the clutch when that was not the problem.

    I too had this problem (burning smell) when I first got my 04 ZX3. Took it back to the dealer and they determined it was a cleaning agent used during the detail process. They cleaned the engine up and I never smelled it again.

    My ZX3 is just over 1 year old and has over 42,200 miles on it. No real problems with the car to speak of, clutch is still like new.
  • I'm having the same problem and no can seem to figure it out. Where you able to get it fixed? Did they tell you what the problem was?
  • I just bought my 2003 Focus ZX5 less than 2 months ago, it is an automatic but seemed to die when in neutral at stop lights and when you take off seems to rev to 5,000 rpms but skip gears or down shift with a thud! I am bringing it in to the dealership in the morning, does any one have any insight on this problem???? :sick:
  • bk40bk40 Posts: 9
    Transmission. Specifically, the clip that connects the transmission cable to the shifter - it came off repeatedly during the first 1800 miles, always on an upshift. This would result in an inability to put the car into gear. The first time happened with 700 miles on the odometer. The dealership from which I bought the car attempted a fix by replacing the slave cylinder. When that didn't work, they tried replacing the clutch assembly. Obtaining parts to do this took nearly three weeks. After many calls to Ford Customer Relations, I finally got my car back, and it broke down again, this time locking in reverse. Same dealership resolved the problem by making "an adjustment". Shortly thereafter, it broke down a third time (again, on an upshift - the car refused to go into any gear) on a trip to Pennsylvania. The local dealership correctly identified the problem, and even noted that the clip was failing due to a design defect. They attempted to compensate with a cotter pin. I was able to drive back to New York City, where the car broke down a fourth time (same problem - the cotter key pin fix failed). At this point, I discovered that the dealership from whom I bought the car had gone out of business. Therefore, the car went to another local dealer, who merely re-attached the cable. When I refused to accept the car, the service manager called Ford and apparently reached someone who not only acknowledged the design defect but also promised to send a re-designed part. This part was installed at about 1780 miles. I have since driven about 1500 miles without another failure, but I don't trust the car as far as I can throw it. It's very frustrating to have a car with an engine so potent they don't even put a redline on the tach but which I fear to take over 3000 rpm for fear of another failure. And through this entire ordeal I have gotten multiple ineffectual responses from Ford Customer Relations.
  • igor2igor2 Posts: 148
    check your local emon laws.. three times the same problem might make you qualify for a buyback.. you might just be driving a lemon

  • bk40bk40 Posts: 9
    Under New York State law, a car qualifies as a lemon if it either cannot be repaired after four or more attempts, or if it is out of service for 30 days or more during the first two years or 18,000 miles of use, whichever comes first. My car met these conditions in July (out of service for more than 40 days). I filed for arbitration under the law, and had a hearing in early October. At no time have I been contacted by anyone from Ford's regional office, which is why I'm trying to get my money back (as opposed to a replacement vehicle). I only learned of the location of the office (Mahwah, NJ) when I received my hearing date - it was identified in the hearing notice papers. I'm told a decision should be provided by the end of the month.
  • tom71tom71 Posts: 46
    Boy oh boy have you had some bad experiences with the shifter!
    What year was your Focus? I ask because I wonder if Ford has
    redesigned this flaw. I wonder if you can make a lemon law claim?
  • bk40bk40 Posts: 9
    It's a 2005 SXT ZX4. I've made a lemon law claim, had my hearing, and am awaiting a decision. At the third dealer who examined the car, the service manager said he called Ford and found out the part has been redesigned, and he accordingly ordered and installed the new part. I also discovered TSB 05-8-1 which addresses a problem with the manual transmission's inability to shift into 5th gear. Not sure if the two items are related or not, but will wait and see how the decision comes down before I decide whether or not to investigate the matter any further.
  • kristovkristov Posts: 1

    I have a 06 Focus ZX5 automatic with only a few hundred miles on it. Noticed, that in one instance when I brake hard then ease up on the brake (squeeze)and come to a stop the tranny hangs in second gear too long, and then shifts in to first giving the car a noticeable jolt. Other times brake hard then do a rolling stop and than back on the gas the tranny hangs in second then shifts to first gear abruptly. Under normal braking the downshifts are smooth. Asked the dealer about it but they say there is no technical service bulletin issued by Ford and they believe this is normal for this tranny. They did not sound too convincing, so I would like to ask you guys for your opinion on this shifting pattern for the Focus. Is it normal or I have a bad tranny? Thanks for your help.
  • in the month of august, my father purchased me a 2001 ford focus with 80,000 miles approximately. the transmission seemed to be having problems only days later. the car will drive but there is a knocking noise coming from the car. i have been told that my transmission fuel pump may be gone bad. any similar experiences? the way it is an automatic :sick:
  • 2005 Focus ZX3 5-speed manual 36,000 miles

    Okay, so I get back from a short trip and the next day struggle to get the car in reverse. It will not do this (the reverse lights won't even come on) and the car instead drives forward. Clutch and all other gears seem to work fine, just can't get that reverse gear to engage.

    Anyone had this problem before?
  • I started experiencing transmission (55,000miles) problems with my 2001 focus so I had a Family mechanic look at it. He is a master mechanic specializing in Ford vehicles. When I first mentioned the issue he knew immediately that it was the trans. He suggested I call National Ford customer service to see if they would take some responsibility for a crappy product. I did not drive my car for a month and suggested I bring it to the dealership to confirm issue. Both Ford and dealership refused to help and stated that because the car sat in my driveway for a month that the noise they heard was the brakes and not the trans. By the way, I had the brakes and rotars replaced at 44,000 miles. After paying another 500.00 for new brakes and rotars, the dealer conceded stating it was the trans. So I asked them that if all the cars on their lot sat longer than a month, would they have to replace all the brakes and rotars before selling them? I did ask for the brakes and rotars back and they were practically brand new. Never again will I buy a ford... no wonder Toyota is the number one car company! The Ford dealership's logo is "you will be satisfied"... Mmmm... probably should change that soon!
  • mschmalmschmal Posts: 1,757
    Toyota as a franchise has the worst dealers of all major brands according to JD powers.

  • mschmalmschmal Posts: 1,757
    Sometimes if you put it into First and let off on the cluth just enough for the gear to grab, you can then get it into reverse very easy.

    Remember there is no syncro on reverse.
  • bigodawgbigodawg Posts: 1
    i'm working on a 03 focus at my shop with trnasmission problems. the car has no problem shifting out of first gear then when its in second the rpm's go up to like 3000 and the car has a hard time shifting out of second gear...any suggestions on where to start on fixing the problem?

  • xennusxennus Posts: 1
    2003 Focus SE with automatic trans. The gear shifter moves but not changing the gear. I checked where the cable connects and it appears fine. I pushed the arm to change gears at the transmission while a friend moved the gear shifter and it worked fine. I could then use the gear shifter to put back into reverse and then park but it would not work again after going into park. Any ideas?
  • shalko42shalko42 Posts: 1
    I own a 2002 ford focus sedan SE with about 45,000 miles. I've always taken good care of it and about a week ago i even got 4 new tires with an alinement and oil change. However, randomly the other day my reverse gear wouldn't work. Everything else would work - it would drive forward, park, startup no problem, but for whatever reason when i put it in reverse and it was like the car was in neautral. It had no movement what so ever and when i pressed the gas the engine would just rev like in neutral. I had it towed to a local ford dealer and they are still playing around with it, saying they got it to go in reverse but aren't QUITE sure what the problem is. Anybody know what could cause this and how much it costs to fix?
  • I just had a trans put in my 2002 focus. The transmission was totally destoyed as the dealer put it. the car has 47,000. Anyway to save $1000, I took it to a shop. They put in a trans form a junked focus because it was not able to be rebuilt, the end result? This trans is going and after 2 letters and a phone call, Ford will not do anything for me. Good luck
  • raehart18raehart18 Posts: 1
    I am having the SAME problem with my 03. Did you ever find out the issue??
  • ford_sucksford_sucks Posts: 1
    I am an owner of two Ford vehicles a 2002 Ford Focus and a 2002 Ford Explorer. They were purchased on the same day as Certified Ford Used vehicles. I bought American vehicles to support American companies and American workers.

    At approximately 43,000 miles I had to take my Focus to get the transmission repaired. I did this at an authorized Ford dealer in Huntington Beach, CA. Repairs were made and I was on my way. At approximately 73,000 miles I was having the same issues and again was delivered to an authorized Ford Service center. They weren't able to find any problems with the transmission, however they found $429 in other repairs I "needed". I took the car back another time at about 74,500 to be looked at again without the dealer finding any problems.

    Now, I am at 75,420 - 420 miles past my ESP Warranty and according to the dealer I need a new Transmission. I've been through all of the 800 numbers I can find and they all say there is nothing they can do and I am screwed. Actually one of the ladies hung up on me!!

    2 transmissions in 75k miles and Ford is telling me that is MY problem. I took out a 5 year loan on the vehicle, I owe $3500 still and according to Ford I need $2,900 in repairs on a car that might be work $3,000... Thanks Ford! I will never buy a Ford again!!
  • mschmalmschmal Posts: 1,757
    And of course you have the receipts for the trans service due every 30k miles on the Explorer?

  • I recently bought a used 2001 focus off of a friend with 88000 k on it. In the past few weeks it has been acting weird on acceleration from a stop. It feel as though it is not getting enough fuel or maybe the transmission is going. What do you think the problem may be?
  • lawilllawill Posts: 1
    My 2000 focus has a bad pump seal. It has 95000 miles on it. I was wondering if any other owners have had this problem? A local mechanic said that there has been a lot of problems with trasmissions on the 2.0..... :confuse:
  • "shift solenoid c" i think it is went.... and the more u drive with the problem the more work need to get done to the trans...
  • niki3niki3 Posts: 1
    The same thing just started happening to my 03 focus. On my way home from work last night, something just felt weird about it then it suddenly lurched forward. I had my boyfriend drive it this morning, and he said it wasn't coming out of second. We dropped it off at a shop today. Were you able to fix it, and should I be preparing myself for a majorly expensive repair?
  • zapoluchzapoluch Posts: 2
    I have a 2003 Focus, and it just started to act up. When I shift from park to drive, and then accelerate, it acts like it's in neutral for a few seconds and then shifts. The car has just under 53,000 miles on it. It's unfortunate that so many of us are having similar issues.

    I went to Ford's customer service website and tried to e-mail them, but the page didn't load correctly both times I tried. All I can say is that EVERYONE needs to call their dealer and/or Ford's customer service line so they are forced to acknowledge the problem.

    Here's the Ford number: 1-800-392-3673

    I'm going to start shopping for a new car immediately.
  • zapoluchzapoluch Posts: 2
    Mine does the lurching thing, too, every once in awhile. I had the car looked at a few months ago, and they said everything was fine. Call Ford and complain!
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