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Best & Worst Years of Ford Focus – Graphs & Owner Surveys

Car shoppers looking for a Ford Focus should add the 2015-2017, 2010-2011, and 2006-2007 model years to their lists. However, buyers should avoid the Ford Focus models from 2018, 2016, 2012-2014, 2008-2009, and 2001-2005. Data shows these are the worst model years of the Ford Focus.

Blue Ford Focus parked at an open space

The Blue Oval abandoned the American passenger car market several years ago, except for the Ford Mustang. Until then, it sold the Ford Focus as a domestic alternative to the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic.

While no longer available as a new vehicle, the Ford Focus is an option for those searching for used transportation that’s relatively cheap to buy and own. Unfortunately, not every year of the Ford Focus is a smart buy. Some have poor reputations for dependability, while other examples are more likely to be reliable. Keep reading as we separate the best years of the Ford Focus from the worst years. This information is also helpful if you already own a Focus.

This guidance comes from a review of Ford Focuses with an installed FIXD sensor—this creates the FIXD Reliability Score. Further, a FIXD survey of Ford Focus owners produces the Owner Reliability Score. It’s vital information covering reliability perceptions, ownership experiences, repair and maintenance expenditures, and other insights. 

To rank each Ford Focus model year, we’ll then compare the FIXD Reliability and Owner Reliability Scores against public data about safety testing, fuel economy, and resale values. 

This chart highlights the results of the best and worst Ford Focus years; keep reading to learn more. 

Best Years Why? Worst Years Why?
2015, 2017

High owner reliability scores, exceptional safety ratings, and low chance of expensive repairs

>> See 2015, 2017 Ford Focus for sale

2012-2014, 2016, 2018

First year of the third generation (2012), high number of recalls, and an elevated chance of costly powertrain repairs

>> See 2012-2014, 2016, 2018 Ford Focus for sale


No reports of expensive repairs and zero recalls

>> See 2010-2011 Ford Focus for sale


Subpar engine reliability and increased risk of pricey engine and transmission problems

>> See 2008-2009 Ford Focus for sale


Lower chance of expensive repairs, mid-grade owner reliability score, and few recalls

>> See 2006-2007 Ford Focus for sale


Poor engine reliability scores, high number of recalls, and greater chance for drivetrain troubles

>> See 2001-2005 Ford Focus for sale

It’s important to mention that this discussion of Ford Focus generations and model years reflects the U.S. market. Over the years, many variations of the Focus were sold in numerous overseas markets. In fact, Ford still sells the car in Europe and Asia.

Ford Focus Engine Reliability Score, Safety Ratings & MPG Year by Year

The model years rankings for the Ford Focus are based on:

We’ll break down the details for each of these elements.

If you’re in the market for a car, take a look at our article on the USA’s most reliable and cheapest to repair vehicles. Don’t get stuck with a lemon; use our data to help you shop.

Engine Reliability Score – Over The Years

Ford Focus Reliability Score

As shown in the graphic, two measurements are used for engine reliability.

  • FIXD Reliability Score (green): This index comes from the number of check engine lights detected in Ford Focuses with an installed FIXD sensor.
  • Owner Reliability Score (gray): This rating measures how capable Focus owners believe their cars are for trips of varying lengths. A Focus that’s only suitable for a short point A to point B trip ranks the lowest. However, a Focus that can handle long-distance travel rates the highest. 

Both scores use a 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest) scale; 5 is average.

You’ll notice that the two indexes don’t align. This is typical because the FIXD Reliability Score measures the frequency of check engine lights, something that’s easily defined. Meanwhile, the Owner Reliability Score captures impressions about reliability, which is subjective. In addition, owners of older vehicles generally accept check engine lights. And age and mileage mean more check engine lights. 

Yet, this disparity is useful because we look for matching patterns. If both scores for a particular model year are low, then chances are good this edition should be avoided. In the case of the Ford Focus, the 2002 and 2005 model years are good examples. 

Likewise, an upward trend for the FIXD Reliability Score and Owner Reliability Score can indicate a model worthy of a thumbs up. The 2015 Ford Focus is an instance of this. 

If just the FIXD Reliability Score is low, we’ll review repair history and expenses, safety ratings, and other data to decide on a specific model year’s reliability. 

Read the Ford Check Engine Light article to learn about the most likely reasons for check engine lights to happen in a Focus and other popular Fords.

NHTSA Safety Score – Over The Years

Ford Focus NHTSA Safety Rating

With so many SUVs and trucks on the road, those shopping for a smaller car are wise to think about safety. The Ford Focus gets mixed results in NHTSA safety testing. 

The first-generation (2001-2007) ranges from 3.4 to 4.0 (out of 5), which is mediocre, and below the average for all the vehicles that are tracked for safety performance by NHTSA (gray line). The green line is based on data from the same source but only for the Ford Focus. The first model year for the Focus is 2000, our analysis starts with the 2001 edition.

The Focus’ safety scores start to improve with the debut of the second generation (2008-2011), but it takes the launch of the 2010 model year for this Ford to catch up with other cars. Safety performance for the second-gen Focus ranges from 4.0 to 4.2. 

Safety scores improve significantly for the third-generation Ford Focus (2012-2018), with the results bordering on impressive. NHTSA testing results start with a 4.4 but increases to 4.6 with the 2015 Focus. 

41% of surveyed Focus owners report using their cars for “lots of driving” (traveling and commuting), and another 36% rely on these vehicles for family transportation. Safety ratings directly impact keeping insurance costs low; keep this in mind while car shopping. 

If you live in one of the states listed below, we can show you the cheapest vehicles to insure in yours.

What Used Cars Are the Cheapest To Insure In:
North Carolina
New York

MPG – Over The Years

Ford Focus Average MPG

For many, buying a smaller car is primarily about affordability, including getting good fuel economy. Across all model years, the Ford Focus delivers an average of almost 28 MPG, which is respectable without a hybrid setup. 

A comparison between the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic shows that earlier years of the Focus hold their own. However, the third generation fell behind the competition as a new Corolla hit the streets in 2013, and a new Civic debuted in 2016. Ford let the third-generation Focus languish for seven years (an eternity in the auto industry). 

  Ford Focus Toyota Corolla Honda Civic
2006 27 MPG 28 MPG 27 MPG
2011 29 MPG 27 MPG 27 MPG
2018 28 MPG 32 MPG 33 MPG

For most of its third generation, the Focus was available as a Flex Fuel (E85) vehicle. This meant the car could use either conventional gasoline or an E85 fuel blend of up to 85% ethanol (usually made from corn) and 15% gasoline. While not available in all areas of the country, E85 has the advantage of usually costing less than gasoline. The trade-off is reduced fuel economy (dark green line). 

The U.S. Department of Energy has an alternative fuel calculator that determines if you can save money by using E85 fuel.

A Ford Focus with E85 capability is distinguished by a “Flex Fuel” badge on the back and a similarly marked yellow ring around the fuel filler port.

Never add E85 to a car unless you are 100% certain it is Flex Fuel-capable.

Current Market Value of All Ford Focus Years & Cost Per Year to Repair and Maintain Each

Ford Focus Market Value vs Cost of Repairs

Cars with reputations for high maintenance and repair expenses often suffer from lower resale values. Ideally, the KBB market value (green line) should be an upward-trending arching line, and, for the most part, we see this with the Ford Focus. 

However, what usually accompanies increasing market value is a relatively consistent average for yearly upkeep (gray line). Instead, we see an index that resembles a rollercoaster. Yet, these fluctuating amounts don’t appear to influence the market value of the Ford Focus greatly.

Surveyed owners with a 2007 Focus spent the most ($1,068) in 2022 to keep their cars operating, but this doesn’t drive down the market value for this model year. There’s a dip in value for the 2011 edition, but this is due to surveyed cars having high mileage (which drives down prices), not expensive repair and maintenance expenses, likewise, with the 2014 Focus. 

The interesting takeaway from this data is that the Ford Focus is reasonably inexpensive to maintain. Based on an average of all Focus model years, this car costs $634 yearly to keep on the road. RepairPal reports an average of $526 for all compact cars and $652 for all vehicles. 

The 2006 Focus takes the number two spot for yearly upkeep costs ($917). But most other model years don’t deviate too much from the $634 average. We’ll spell this out in the best and worst years breakdown. 

When shopping for a used Ford Focus, it’s important to keep in mind that not all vehicles are cared for equally. To protect yourself from lemons, take along a FIXD Sensor on your test drive. FIXD connects to a free app on your smartphone to tell you more about the vehicle you’re checking out, including check engine lights and other hidden issues that the owner or dealership may be attempting to hide. Click here to learn more and get FIXD for only $19.99 (regular price $59)!

Important Features Timeline

Ford Focus Timeline of Important Features

2001: Top trims get vehicle stability control

2002: A five-door hatchback, a wagon, and the sporty SVT hatchback join the lineup

2003: A new base trim only comes with a manual gearbox; air conditioning is optional

2004: Leather seating is available with the ZX3 trim

2005: The ST sedan replaces the SVT as the sporty Focus

2006: All trims get a CD player as standard equipment

2007: No major changes; leather upholstery is available with more trims

2008: A significant refresh passes for the debut of the second-generation Focus

2009: The top trim gets standard heated leather seats

2010:  Anti-lock brakes and stability control are standard on all Focus trims

2011: The coupe gets dropped, leaving the sedan as the only body style

2012: First year of the third-generation Focus

2013: The mid-tier SEL trim is discontinued

2014: No major changes

2015: The exterior and cabin get refreshed

2016: Ford’s SYNC 3 infotainment is standard on all versions with Apple Carplay and Andriod Auto support (early production models require a software upgrade).

2017: No major changes

2018: No major changes; last year of the Focus in the U.S.

Best Years of the Ford Focus

2019 Black Ford Focus  in the city street

The best years of the Ford Focus are determined from an analysis of FIXD Reliability Scores, Owner Reliability Scores, NHTSA safety testing and recalls, and EPA fuel economy estimates. The most common diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs) are also included. 

2015 and 2017 Ford Focus

2017  Ford Focus in the city street.

FIXD Reliability Score: 5/10

Owner Reliability Score: 9-10/10

KBB Value: $5,825-$9,461

Fuel Economy: 29-30 MPG (Gas), 22-22.33 MPG (E85)

Average Annual Maintenance/Repair: $429-$500

Average Likelihood of a $500+ Repair in 2022: 100%

Safety Rating: 4.6/5

The third-generation Ford Focus brings a lot to the table with significantly improved safety scores and fuel economy. While these are modern economy cars, it’s important to know they are still economy cars. Which means automakers try to cut corners whenever possible. 

This accounts for only the 2015 and 2017 model years making it to the best years list. The 2012-2014, 2016, and 2018 editions have too many drivetrain problems, which we’ll cover later.

Yes, the 2015 and 2017 Focuses get mediocre engine reliability scores (5 out of 10), but owners give these cars a commendable 9 or 10 (out of 10). Another reason to like these Fords is that surveys didn’t report any expensive ($500+) engine repairs in 2022. 

And 5.7% of those with a 2015 Focus cited costly transmission work last year. Ideally, this would be at zero percent, but this is an eight-year-old car, so troubles are expected. In addition, the 2015 Focus has a troublesome PowerShift transmission (discussed in the worst years section). So, be sure that an inspection thoroughly looks at the gearbox.

We’re not saying this group of Focuses is perfect, but here’s why they’re worth checking out. 

Low upkeep costs are also worth mentioning, with owners of the 2015 and 2017 Focuses reported spending $429 and $500, respectively, last year to maintain their cars. These amounts are below the $634 average among all Focus models. And these vehicles are old enough that brake pads and tire replacements are already kicking in. This is normal wear and tear usage that doesn’t affect reliability. 

A 4.6 (out of 5) in NHTSA safety testing makes this pair of Focuses among the best-performing examples. At the same time, fuel economy ratings of 29 MPG (2017) and 30 MPG (2015) make these model years among the most fuel-efficient for the nameplate. 

But let’s bring the 2015 and 2017 Ford Focus down to earth with a look at the most common trouble codes. P1450 signals a problem with the vacuum pressure in the evaporative emission control (EVAP) system. Often, this issue can get corrected with a simple no-cost fix: tightening the gas cap. 

However, repairs may be more involved. A new gas cap runs $20 to $60, while a replacement EVAP line costs $50 to $100. Other work may require a new valve ($150-$200) or an EVAP charcoal canister ($200-$600). 

Another EVAP-related code, P0456, is frequently associated with the 2015 and 2017 Ford Focus. Remedies are similar to how you’d fix P1450.

Owners of these model years may also encounter P0420, a problem with the catalytic converter (catalyst system efficiency below threshold—Bank 1, specifically). If this happens, you’re likely facing installing a new air fuel sensor ($200-$300) or oxygen sensor ($275-$500) or repairing an exhaust system leak ($100-$200). However, don’t be surprised if a new catalytic converter ($1,538-$2,041) is required. 

While catalytic converters don’t last forever, a replacement in vehicles of this age is unusual. It can happen due to poor maintenance, cheap gas, or a component failure. We always recommend getting a pre-purchase inspection through a professional mechanic. A simple pressure test can identify a catalytic converter not operating in peak condition. You’ll want to determine if this is a problem before buying a 2015 or 2017 Ford Focus. 

Be aware that there are eight recalls for the 2015 Focus and five recalls for the 2017 model year. Checking the recall status of any car is simple. Just head to the NHTSA website and enter the vehicle’s information.

Depending on the condition, equipment, mileage, and other factors, a Ford Focus from 2015 or 2017 runs $8,000 to $12,000 at a dealer. Tight supplies, a volatile used car market, and higher interest rates have made these cars more expensive. Private-party transactions, which are what’s reflected in KBB market value, are usually lower than dealer-based purchases. 

2010-2011 Ford Focus

2010 White Ford Focus at the countryside.

FIXD Reliability Score: 4-6/10

Owner Reliability Score: 6-7/10

KBB Value: $3,420 – $3,777

Fuel Economy: 28-29 MPG

Average Annual Maintenance/Repair: $667-$850

Average Likelihood of a $500+ Repair in 2022: 100%

Safety Rating: 4.0-4.2/5

A FIXD Reliability Score of 4 for the 2010 Focus doesn’t scream reliability (the 2011 version gets a 6), nor do passing Owner Reliability Scores (7 for the 2010 Focus and 6 for the 2011 edition). 

But a few other things stood out for the second half of the second-generation Ford Focus (2008-2011). Notably, no surveyed owners reported an expensive engine or transmission repair. That’s a remarkable accomplishment for an economy car a dozen years old! 

Equally as amazing is that the 2010-2011 Focuses are the only model years without a recall (as of this writing). There are other positives to these Fords, such as good fuel economy (28-29 MPG) and respectable crash test results (4.0-4.2). 

Yearly maintenance expenses of $667 for the 2010 Ford Focus stays close to average. However, 2011 Focus owners did spend an average of $850 last year, with the survey showing repair dollars mostly went to the HVAC system or brakes.

As the FIXD Reliability Score demonstrates, the 2010-2011 Ford Focus has its share of check engine lights. The most common DTC message is P1000, which isn’t the worse error code to get. It indicates that the vehicle hasn’t completed enough drive cycles to satisfy the engine control module (ECM) monitoring requirement. Usually, this means a battery cable is disconnected or the scan got interrupted. 

Owners of these Focus model years may also have to deal with code P0451, which involves a faulty EVAP system. Repairs can require a new valve, EVAP line, or charcoal canister, like other EVAP-related error messages. A replacement catalytic converter could be part of the work.

Taking the number three spot for the most common error code among the 2010-2011 Focus model years is P0128, a bad thermostat. Necessary repairs could involve the EVAP repairs we’ve already covered. A new thermostat costs $477 to $512. Replacing the powertrain control module, which monitors the thermostat, runs from $2,049 to $2,567.

Expect to pay $4,000 to $8,000 for a 2010-2011 Ford Focus from a dealer. These model years are the sweet spot for a used Focus. They’re affordable (finding a decent second-hand vehicle for well under $10,000 is a challenge in today’s market), are relatively modern, and perform satisfactorily for safety and fuel economy.

2006-2007 Ford Focus

FIXD Reliability Score: 4/10

Owner Reliability Score: 6/10

KBB Value: $2,182-$2,252

Fuel Economy: 26-27 MPG

Average Annual Maintenance/Repair: $917-$1,068

Average Likelihood of a $500+ Repair in 2022: 82%-88%

Safety Rating: 3.8-4.0/5

The first-generation Ford Focus doesn’t get any gold medals for reliability. That’s why most years (2001-2005) are on the worst years list. But, we were able to locate a pair of bronze medal winners with the 2006-2007 model years. And if there were such a thing as a tin or copper award, it would be a more accurate recognition. 

These cars are far from flawless. But for those unable to spend $7,000 or $8,000 on a used vehicle, this grouping is what to buy if you’ve only got $3,000 to $6,000 for a second-hand Ford.

FIXD Reliability Scores of 4 are the highest among any first-generation Focus, and 6 for Owner Reliability is encouraging. Fuel economy averages of 26-27 MPG aren’t the most stellar, but they’re competitive with other economy cars of this time. 

Similarly, crash test scores of 3.8 (2007) and 4.0 (2006) don’t stand out, but these ratings could be worse.

What’s really notable about these Fords is the modest number of recalls. There are only two notices for the 2010 Focus and the same amount of recalls for the 2011 edition. Earlier years have many more recalls. 

That said, let’s point out why considering a 2006-2007 Ford Focus must be an exercise of caution. In other words, be a vigilant buyer and get an inspection before signing the paperwork.

Based on owner surveys, an average of 11% of owners of these Focuses cited a cost of at least $500 last year to fix the engine and transmission. We wish this were lower (or non-existent), but this comes with the territory of having a cheap, older car. It’s also worth considering that these vehicles have an average of 187,000 miles. Finding a car with substantially lower mileage could reduce the chance of expensive powertrain servicing.

The 2006-2007 model years are more expensive to own than other Focuses. Surveys show that, on average, it took $1,068 to keep the 2007 Focus running in 2022. At $917, the 2006 edition is less expensive to maintain. You may save some money upfront by purchasing a less expensive car, but the savings may evaporate due to repairs and upkeep.

Error codes that we’ve already covered, P1000 (failed ECM monitoring) and P0128 (a bad thermostat), are common to the 2006-2007 Focus. 

Owners can also come across P0171, a too-lean fuel mixture (insufficient fuel or too much air). This typically results from problems with the mass airflow (MAF) sensor. Cleaning the MAF sensor ($20-$100) or fixing a vacuum or exhaust leak ($100-$200) often will take care of things. 

More involved corrections include installing a new MAF sensor ($300) or fuel-pressure regulator ($200-$400). A new fuel pump can set owners back $1,300 to $1,700.

The Worst Years of the Ford Focus

Silver Ford Focus car moving on the street.

Two-thirds of the Ford Focus model years are best left in someone else’s hands. You’ll want to avoid these cars due to poor FIXD Reliability and Owner Reliability Scores, high repairs costs, or other issues.

2001-2005 Ford Focus

2004 White Ford Focus in the city street.

FIXD Reliability Score: 1-3/10

Owner Reliability Score: 4-10/10

KBB Value: $1,350-$2,065

Fuel Economy: 24-26 MPG

Average Annual Maintenance/Repair: $450-$750

Average Likelihood of a $500+ Repair in 2022: 60%-83%

Safety Rating: 3.4-4.0/5

There’s one expression to remember if you’re thinking about a 2001-2005 Ford Focus, “avoid it like the plague.” Solid data shows they are the worst model years to buy. Yes, they’re old; vehicles with two decades of use are not the most reliable. 

FIXD Reliability Scores that don’t arise above 3 are the first indicators of troubles (2002 and 2003 receive a 1), despite owners being more optimistic via the Owner Reliability Score (a 4-6 for the 2002-2005 model years).

We’ll focus on the 2001 Focus separately because there are insufficient owner repair reports to complete this model year’s assessment fully. Ordinarily, in this situation, we’d put a car like this in limbo (no best or worst recommendation). 

However, these cars are 22 years old, plus the 2001 model year has 14 recalls, making it one of the most recalled Focuses. The debut year of the Focus (2000) has 18 recalls, indicating these early versions are problematic, to put it politely.  

That said, let’s move on to the 2002-2005 model years, and it doesn’t get much better. The 2002 Focus has nine recalls, while the 2003 edition has seven notices. There are six recalls for the 2004 model year, and the 2005 version has five recalls.

Looking beyond these recalls, we see a troubling history with repairs. An average of one in five owners with a 2002-2005 Focus had an engine repair of $500 or more last year. Similarly, 20% of those with a 2004 Focus needed costly transmission work. The 2003 and 2005 model years also required gearbox servicing but to a lesser extent. 

Previously highlighted error codes are present in the 2001-2005 Focuses. These messages included P1000 (an ECM monitoring issue) and P0171 (MAF sensor/lean fuel mix). 

Another problem, P0460 (an EVAP system leak), is also known to surface. Besides tightening or replacing the gas cap or fixing a leak, you might have to install a new canister purge solenoid ($50-$150).

Crash test scores aren’t encouraging. While the 2005 edition scores a decent 4.0 in a NHTSA safety analysis, it’s downhill for the rest of the group. The 2001 Focus received a 3.8 in government testing, while the 2002-2004 model years rated a 3.4, the lowest of any Focuses. 

If you’re car shopping on a tight budget, look at the 2006-2007 Ford Focus instead; the odds are much better for a more reliable vehicle. 

2008-2009 Ford Focus

FIXD Reliability Score: 4/10

Owner Reliability Score: 8/10

KBB Value: $2,860-$2,940

Fuel Economy: 28 MPG

Average Annual Maintenance/Repair: $464-$600

Average Likelihood of a $500+ Repair in 2022: 75%-88%

Safety Rating: 4.0-4.2/5

As the first year of the second generation, the 2008 Focus already has one strike against it. But there’s more to be concerned with than first-year gremlins; this also applies to the 2009 model year.

A FIXD Reliability Score of 4 for the 2008 and 2009 Focus might give these cars a passing grade, backed up by a pair of 8s for the Owner Reliability Score. However, owner surveys really tell the story.

In particular, almost one in five 2008 Focus owners endured expensive engine repairs in 2022. It’s better for the 2009 model year, but still, one in ten of these owners also had to spend big bucks for engine work. 

There are also transmission troubles to worry about. An average of 12% of those with a 2008 or 2009 had to spend at least $500 to get their car’s gearbox back to operating condition. 

Curiously, these model years don’t have many NHTSA-recognized problems, as the 2008 Focus has three recalls, and there’s only one recall for the 2009 version. Yet, that so many owners had powertrain issues is the real concern.

Of course, this group of Fords has several common DTC codes to be concerned with.  Ones we’ve already discussed, P1000 (problems with ECM monitoring ) and P0128 (a faulty thermostat) cause check engine lights in the 2008-2009 Focus. 

There are several hundred occurrences reported for code P0750, a faulty automatic transmission solenoid, which can cause the transmission not to shift correctly. Sometimes, this is due to low or dirty transmission fluid. If needed, a replacement solenoid costs $75 to $450.

2012-2014, 2016, and 2018 Ford Focus

Red 2012 Ford Focus on a highway

FIXD Reliability Score: 1-7/10

Owner Reliability Score: 7-10/10

KBB Value: $4,487-$10,540

Fuel Economy: 28-31 MPG (Gas), 22-22.5 MPG (E85)

Average Annual Maintenance/Repair: $393-$846

Average Likelihood of a $500+ Repair in 2022: 80%-93%

Safety Rating: 4.4-4.6/5

It’s never wise to assume that new vehicles are more reliable. The 2012-2014, 2016, and 2018 Ford Focus models prove this point. First, the 2012-2013 model years get a FIXD Reliability Score of 1, which is unusually low for decade-old vehicles. The 2014 and 2016 versions get a 4, which is nothing to brag about. The 2018 Focus receives a 7, but other issues outweigh this ranking.

What is typical are higher Owner Reliability Scores ranging from 7 to 10 (people will put up with check engine lights out of loyalty to their rides). But this index doesn’t make up for other poor showings for these cars.

Chiefly, this involves Ford’s notorious PowerShift transmission used for the 2012-2016 model years. Surveyed owners paid the price for having this gearbox in their cars. More than 23% with a 2014 Focus spent at least $500 last year to fix the transmission. And 18% with a 2012 Focus had the same experience. Nearly 10% of owners with a 2013 or 2016 edition also had to shell out for gearbox work.

There are engine problems, too. An average of 11% of 2013 or 2016 Focus owners needed to spend $500 more to fix what’s under the hood. It rises 16% for those with a 2018 Focus in their driveways.

Compared to other vehicles on the road, these troubled Focus models years are too new to deal with powertrain issues.

It’s also a good idea to avoid the first year of an all-new car because of design flaws and bugs that are often present. The 2012 model year marks the debut of the third-generation Focus. So, that’s another reason to skip this model year. 

Need more proof? The 2012 edition has 12 recalls, among the highest for any Focus. There are also 12 recalls for the 2014 model year and 10 notices for 2013. With six recalls for the 2016 Focus and two for the 2018 version, things get better later.

A look at frequent trouble codes only piles on the evidence to stay away from these Fords.  

In particular, the 2012-2014 and 2016 models years are highly vulnerable to P0420, a faulty catalytic converter, being present. As covered, this can be an expensive repair and one that shouldn’t be an issue with more recent vehicles. 

Code P0420 is the most common error message among all Focuses, according to installed FIXD sensors. And the 2012-2014 and 2016 models years are among the worst. 

We also see many instances of P1450, a problem with the EVAP system. Owners of this group of Focuses may also encounter code B10D7, which involves the anti-theft key not syncing with the body control module (BCM). At a minimum, expect to pay for an hour of diagnostic time ($75-$150) to resolve the matter. 


What years of the Ford Focus have engine and/or transmission problems?

Several Ford Focus model years are vulnerable to expensive-to-fix engine troubles; these include 2001-2005, 2008-2009, 2016, and 2018. Costly transmission repairs are known to happen with the 2004-2005, 2009, and 2012-2016 years of the Focus.

What is considered high mileage for a Ford Focus?

It’s challenging to establish a high-mileage benchmark for a Ford Focus. Much of this is based on the individual vehicle because a well-maintained example with 150,000 miles of highway use will likely keep rolling for quite a while longer. On the other hand, a used and abused Focus with 100,000 miles of stop-and-go city driving may not be around for much longer.

A professional mechanic is the best person to determine what constitutes a high-mileage Ford Focus.

However, let’s look at the survey data to create a general guideline. Among all the Ford Focus model years, there’s an average usage of 132,000 miles. We’ll set 130,000 miles as the high-mileage bar to simplify the math. 

The data also shows that no individual Focus model year had an average usage past 200,000 miles, suggesting a possible lifespan for the Ford Focus. The year with the highest use is the 2001 Focus, with an average of 191,667 miles. 

So, a “high-mileage” Ford Focus with 130,000 miles has likely used up two-thirds of its lifespan if we assume 200,000 miles are unachievable. Of course, this depends on regular maintenance, gentle driving, and avoiding accidents. 

If the goal is to buy a Focus for maximum longevity, then the obvious solution is to purchase the newest model (with the lowest mileage) you can afford. The 2015 and 2017 Ford Focus make our best-years list. 

What other vehicles should I consider?

Being the Blue Oval no longer makes passenger cars (except the Mustang), you’ll have to go used car shopping if you want a different Ford that’s not an SUV or truck. This includes the smaller Ford Fiesta and the larger Ford Fusion.

Outside of the Ford family, the logical alternatives are the Chevrolet Cruze, Honda Civic, Mazda Mazda3, Nissan Sentra, and Toyota Corolla.

What owners of the Ford Focus like to use their cars for:

Frequent Use Categories: How Useful? (Out of 5 Stars)
Lots of Driving (travel/long commute) *****
Family Vehicle ****
Office on Wheels *
Sport/Fast Driving *
Luxurious Driving *
Hauling/Towing *
Outdoor/Off-Road *

A Note About Data and Information Sources

This article has many details about Ford Focus reliability; here’s what we used for our assumptions and recommendations.

  • FIXD Reliability Score & Data: Engine reliability information is captured via the FIXD App

The FIXD Reliability Score is calculated using the number of DTCs per year, weighted by mileage. This is then turned into a scale of 1-10 for easy graphing. 

This is an objective score.

  • Owner Reliability Score & Data: This data is the result of surveying Ford Focus owners who use FIXD. 

The Owner Reliability Score comes straight from the owners of the Ford Focus.  

This is a subjective score.

To determine the Owner Reliability Score, we ask each car owner:

How reliable would you say your Ford Focus is?

a. Just point A to point B driving

b. A Daily Commuter

c. Good for a 100-mile road trip

d. Good for a 500-mile road trip

e. I could take a cross-country road trip, no problem

From here, we translate their answers into the Owner Reliability Score:

a. = 2

b. = 4

c. = 6

d. = 8

e. = 10

Keep in mind owners may think their car is more or less reliable than it actually is. 

One potential problem is that people often buy the same make or model they are used to when they go car shopping, just a newer year.

Ford, for instance, has a number of consumer loyalty awards for the Ford F-Series, Ford Mustang, and Ford Expedition.

Car owners may be so loyal to the make or model they currently own that they would have trouble accurately comparing their cars’ reliability to others. 

It’s for this reason that we ask car owners a question that is relative to mileage rather than relative to other cars. 

Still, be mindful of the accuracy of these Owner Reliability Scores; people’s perceptions and unconscious blindspots can skew data. 

We suggest looking at both the FIXD Reliability Score and the Owner Reliability Score for this reason.

  • KBB Value: Average private-seller valuations as supplied by Kelley Blue Book (KBB), based on a Ford Focus with typical mileage for that respective model year.
  • Fuel Economy: Mileage-per-gallon estimates according to the EPA MPG on Fueleconomy.gov
  • Annual Maintenance/Repair: Upkeep expenses as reported by surveyed Ford Focus owners
  • Safety Rating: Crash test data collected and reported by NHTSA. We average all ratings for each year to come up with a simplified, average safety score. This makes it easier to look at on a graph.


  1. Ford Focus model-specific information, edmunds.com (various dates). Retrieved June 22, 2023, from https://www.edmunds.com/
  2. Model-specific recall information as per the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. Retrieved June 22, 2023, from https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls
David Goldberg

Dave Goldberg is an automotive journalist and lifelong car fanatic. He writes for numerous enthusiast and business outlets and is an ongoing contributor to HotCars.com, one of the most popular car culture websites. When he’s not writing or driving, Dave is either under a hood or asleep. His credentials include a BA in Journalism from The George Washington University.

We’re here to help you simplify car care and save, so this post may contain affiliate links to help you do just that. If you click on a link and take action, we may earn a commission. However, the analysis and opinions expressed are our own.


About the Author

David Goldberg

David Goldberg

Dave Goldberg is an automotive journalist and lifelong car fanatic. He writes for numerous enthusiast and business outlets and is an ongoing contributor to HotCars.com, one of the most popular car culture websites. When he’s not writing or driving, Dave is either under a hood or asleep. His credentials include a BA in Journalism from The George Washington University.

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