Fords Trouble Prone Focus Hit With Safety Recalls, Service Campaigns & Investigations

With 12 safety recalls to date and 7 defect investigations, the Ford Focus proved to be an embarrassment to Ford Motor Company and its President William Clay Ford, who was trying to stress quality in the wake of the Ford Explorer/Firestone ATX, Wilderness AT tire debacle. Not since General Motors introduced its ill-fated X-car in 1980 (Buick Skylark, Chevrolet Citation, Oldsmobile Omega and Pontiac Phoenix) which had 13 recalls in its first two years has a manufacturer had so many recalls. Among the Focus recalls are 351,000 2000 models whose roof pillars can cause head injuries in crashes and 203,700 2000 models whose left rear wheel falls off.

The most common unresolved defect in the Focus is the ignition lock key cylinder which breaks or fails by refusing to turn. Ford issued a service bulletin in September 2002 (02-18-2) describing a special repair kit to remove and replace broken lock cylinders. CAS continues to receive complaints on lock cylinder failures through the 2005 model year.

The Focus' sinking reputation was further hammered hard by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) announcement of 6 major investigations from February to May 2002. Evening up the wheel problem, NHTSA launched a new investigation into wheels falling off the 2000 models, only this time it was both right and left rear wheels. The 2000-01 models were hit with an investigation into engine compartment fires, resulting in a recall. Airbags that deployed inadvertently and that burned drivers were the subjects of two investigations in 2000-01 models. 2000-2002 models were under investigation for collapse of the front suspension. 2000-01 models were investigated for engine stalling, but the investigation was closed after NHTSA assented to a pseudo-service campaign - See "NHTSA Gambles with Focus Owners' Lives."

In November 1999, CAS wrote then Chairman William Clay Ford and warned him about Ford's overall reputation for poor quality and covering up defects to avoid recalls. The Focus fiasco shows Mr. Ford has a long row to hoe before he can restore some of the luster to his great grandfather's company.

"A Low Cost Model Is a Big Headache to Ford" New York Time, 11/20/02

"Ford To Repair Springs on Focus" Cleveland Plain Dealer, 5/20/03

"Ford's Warranty on Focus Extended: Engines Can Stall" Cleveland Plain Dealer, 11/20/03

"2005 Focus ST: A 2nd Shot at Stardom for a Star-Crossed Car" New York Times, 8/20/04


Ford Focus Recalls


NHTSA Identification Number: 99V-346

Date of Company Notification: N/A
Make: Ford
Model: Focus
Model Year: 2000
Number of Vehicles: 31,002
Mfg Campaign No. 99S35 -Cruise control. DOM 7/99-11/99. Speed control cable end fitting can allow water to enter speed control servo assembly. Corrosion in servo assembly could develop and cause intermittent speed control operation or prevent throttle from returning to idle which could result in unexpected acceleration and crash. Correct by replacing speed control cable with new cable and inspecting assembly for internal corrosion and replacing servos with evidence of corrosion. Advise owners not to use speed control until vehicles are repaired.

NHTSA Identification Number: 00V-218
Date of Company Notification: 8-4-00
Make: Ford
Model: Focus
Model Year: 2000
Number of Vehicles: 351,000
Mfg Campaign No. 00S20 - Roof pillar/FMVSS 201. DOM: 7/99-7/00. Vehicles fail to comply with requirements of FMVSS 201. The resultant HIC(d) value at one target location AP1, located on the trim panel at the juncture of the A-pillar and roof side rail, may be greater than design intent. Occupants in this location may not be provided with the needed impact protection. Correct by installing a new A-pillar trim panel.

NHTSA Identification Number: 00V-302
Date of Company Notification: 10-3-00
Make: Ford
Model: Focus
Model Year: 2000
Number of vehicles: 28,800
Mfg. Campaign No. 00S30 - Speed Control/Transmission. DOM: 3/99-10/99. Passenger vehicles equipped with speed control. Some control cables have a core wire that is long enough to catch on the sleeve at the throttle body end of the cable during wide-open throttle acceleration. A throttle that does not return to idle reduces vehicle control and risks a vehicle crash. Correct by inspecting these vehicles and, if necessary, replacing the speed control cable.

NHTSA Identification Number: 00V-303
Date of Company Notification: 10-3-00
Make: Ford
Model: Focus
Model Year: 2000
Number of vehicles: 203,700
Mfg. Campaign No. 00S31 - Wheel hub. DOM: 3/99-5/00. Some rear wheel hub retaining nuts loosen, allowing the left rear wheel and brake drum assembly to separate from the vehicle. Correct by inspecting the rear wheel bearings and installing a rear wheel retention cap to prevent left rear wheel separation.

NHTSA Identification Number: 00V-411
Date of Company Notification: 11-29-00
Make: Ford
Model: Focus
Model Year: 2000
Number of vehicles: 74,500
Mfg. Campaign No. 00S50 - Tail lamp. DOM: 3/99-12/99. on certain passenger vehicles, a decklid wire harness can fatigue and develop broken wires in the bend area of the wire harness. This results in either a loss of individual lamp functions, an electrical short in the broken wires that causes a fuse to open, or the loss of stop lamp or tail lamp function. Loss of stop lamp or tail lamp function increases the risk of a crash. Correct by replacing the decklid wire harness.

NHTSA Identification Number: 00V-418
Date of Company Notification: 12-5-00
Make: Ford
Model: Focus Wagon
Model: Focus ZX
Model Year: 2000-2001
Number of vehicles: 95,000
Mfg. Campaign No. 00S55 - Seats. DOM: 3/99-10/00. Vehicles have a folding 60/40 second seat that becomes a load floor in the folded position. When the 60 percent portion of the seat is folded down and a load is applied to the front edge of the load floor, the outboard hinge pivot can disengage from the hinge. If the seat is then returned to the upright position without re-engaging the hinge pivot, the seat and seat belts do not provide the intended level of protection in the event of a crash. Correct by installing revised seat back hinge pivot.

NHTSA Identification Number: 01V-108
Date of Company Notification: 3-28-01
Make: Ford
Model: Focus
Model Year: 2001
Number of Vehicles: 8,500
Mfg. Campaign No. 01S13 - Seats. DOM: 3/01. Some seat back recliner handle springs were damaged during an in-process test and the occupant may notice a chucking, or looseness of the front seat back. The seat back unexpectedly reclines. If the seat back unexpectedly reclines while the car is being driven, it results in loss of vehicle control. Correct by replacing the seat back recliner handle spring for the driver and front passenger seats.

NHTSA Identification Number: 01V-258
Date of Company Notification: 8-23-01
Make: Ford
Model: Focus
Model Year: 2000-01
Number of vehicles: 1,083,000 (includes other Ford models)
Mfg. Campaign No. 01S24 - Wiper Motor. DOM: (N/A). A switch in the plastic cover of the wiper motor gear case overheats and malfunctions, resulting in loss of wiper function and ignition of the plastic cover, increasing the risk of a crash. Correct by replacing wiper motor gear case.

NHTSA Identification Number: 02V-117
Date of Company Notification: N/A
Make: Ford
Model: Focus SVT
Model Year: 2002
Number of Vehicles: 534
Mfg Campaign No. 02S37 -Speed Control. DOM 11/01-4/02. Speed control cable hangs up at the throttle body bracket during high, wide open throttle operation, preventing the throttle from returning to the closed position when the accelerator is released. Correct by replacing the throttle body and checking for proper operation.

NHTSA Identification Number: 02V-288
Date of Company Notification: 11-4-02
Make: Ford
Model: Focus
Model Year: 2000-01
Number of Vehicles: 291,854
Mfg Campaign No. 02S41 - Battery. DOM 7/99-5/01. Loose or Broken attachments and misrouted battery cables lead to cable insulation damage, causing battery cables to short, and resulting in heat damage to cables. Smoke, melting, fire, engine light illumination or vehicle failure to start may result. Correct by inspecting cable insulation condition, proper torque at terminal ends, rerouting and replacing cables as necessary.

NHTSA Identification Number: 02V-289
Date of Company Notification: 11-4-02
Make: Ford
Model: Focus
Model Year: 2000-01
Number of Vehicles: 446,569
Mfg Campaign No. 02S42 - Steering. DOM 3/99-5/01. Loose pinch bolts securing the lower control arm to the steering knuckle may lead to separation of the joint or fracture of the ball joint stud. Correct by verifying steering knuckle torque, tightening if necessary.

NHTSA Identification Number: 05V-030
Date of Company Notification: 1-31-05
Make: Ford
Model: Focus
Model Year: 2000-02
Number of Vehicles: 358,857
Mfg Campaign No. 05S27 - Door Latch. DOM 4/99-8/02 (Wayne plant), 5/01-9/02 (Hermiosillo plant). Rear door latch corrodes and binds causing door to open or close with difficulty; door may fail to latch properly and open while driving with occupant falling out.  Correct by adding lower rocker seals to door and replacing corroded switches & lubricating non-corroded switches.  Recall limited to cars originally sold or currently registered in CT, DE, IL, IN, IA, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MO, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, VT, WV, WI & DC.

Ford Focus Service Campaigns
Service Campaigns are voluntary programs in which the manufacturer agrees to replace or repair a defect beyond the terms of the express warranty and may provide for reimbursement for prior repairs. Unlike a safety recall, the program may be limited in time beyond which the consumer receives no assistance. Sometimes the NHTSA accepts a Service Campaign in lieu of a safety recalls which means manufacturers and/or dealers are not subject to the enforcement provisions of the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act. When NHTSA accepts a Service Campaign in lieu of the more consumer protective Safety Recall, NHTSA lists the Campaign on its website.

NHTSA Identification Number: 01I-017
Date of Company Notification: N/A
Make: Ford
Model: Focus
Model Year: 2000-01
Number of Vehicles: 238,653
Rear wheel bearing seal race can experience surface corrosion, allowing contamination to enter the bearings, resulting in noise/wobbling. Limited to "Salt-Belt" states: CT, DE, IL, IN, IA, KY, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MO, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, VT, WV, WI.

Ford Campaign No.: 01B85
Subject: Rear Wheel Bearings
Models Covered: 2000-01 Focus
Terms: Replace rear wheel bearings through December 31, 2003 regardless of mileage

Ford Campaign No.: 03M02 (See EA02-023)
Subject: Front Coil Springs
Models Covered: 2000 Focus built at Wayne Assembly Plant from March 5, 1999 through December 23, 1999 and at Hermosillo Assembly Plant from May 21, 1999 through December 30, 1999
Terms: Covers front coil spring fracture through earlier of 10 years or 150,000 miles

Ford Campaign No.: 03N01 (See EA02-022)
Subject: Fuel Delivery Module
Models Covered: 2000-01 Focus built at the Wayne and Hermosillo Assembly Plants from Job #1, 1999 through June 13, 2001.

Defect Investigations

PE02-016, Closed
Model Year: 2000
Subject: Rear Wheel Bearing Failure
-Rear wheel bearings may fail, causing rear wheel to loosen and separate
from vehicle.

Investigation: EA02-017, PE02-020, Closed
Model Year: 2000-01
Subject: Air Bag Burn Injuries/Vehicle Fires
-Air bag deployment may cause burn injuries and vehicle fires.

Investigation: PE02-026, Closed
Model Year: 2000-01
Subject: Inappropriate Air Bag Deployment
-Air bags may deploy in low speed impacts, causing injury.

Investigation: EA02-014, PE02-032, Recall
Model Year: 2000-02
Subject: Electrical System, Engine Compartment Fires
-Fires start in the battery area of the engine compartment.
(See Recall 02V-288)

Investigation: EA02-022, PE02-040, Open
Model Year: 2000-02
Subject: Engine and Engine Cooling System
-Engine stalls

(See Service Campaign labeled as Recall 03V-482 - "NHTSA
Gambles with Focus Owners' Lives
")


Investigation: EA02-023, PE02-044, Closed
Model Year: 2000-02
Subject: Front Suspension Lower Control Failure
- Front suspension may collapse, causing loss of control and crash.
(See Recall 02V-289)