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Old 07-14-2011, 06:17 PM   #1
MN 2012 Ford Focus
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2012 Ford Focus Steering Problem

I bought a 2012 Ford Focus Hatchback in Minnesota in June. The test drive was great (only 3 to 4 miles). When driving the car home (which is about 60 miles from the dealer), after 25 miles or so, the steering seemed to stiffen up and I found myself kind of zig-zaging within the lane (new cement freeway less than one year old). Thought maybe I was not used to the new car, or maybe it was the road? Since then, I paid close attention to the steering. I don't know what causes the steering to stiffen and free up at times. For now it seems to happen only at crusing speed (60-65) after some distance...and the distance seems to vary. So I decided after several hundred miles it wasn't the road or my ability to drive, it was the steering in the car that was the problem. I brought the car back to the dealer to be fixed and they said it drove fine. I asked them how far they drove it, and they said less than 10 miles. I asked them if they would drive it 20 to 30 miles on the freeway. They did, and found the car to be doing what I said it was doing with the steering getting stiff and then free. But they said nothing could be done about it. I am wondering how the car is going to act on ice this winter driving down the freeway. Anyone else hear about, or having this steering problem?


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Old 07-14-2011, 07:03 PM   #2
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yes there are a few reports in the 2012 focus section...i would post in technical section as well
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Old 07-14-2011, 07:18 PM   #3
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What you're describing is a feature that's common for electronic power steering. It sounds to me like you're used to older cars which use hydraulic assisted steering, where the steering is either loose or tight all the time. With electronic power steering the level of assist the electronic motor applies is proportional to the speed you're traveling.

You can test this out by going to a parking lot and driving around at a very slow speed (~10 mph). Do a few turns and notice how the steering wheel is very loose and easy to turn. Now drive off onto a main road and speed up a bit. As you get closer to 35+ mph, the steering wheel will gradually tighten and become more responsive. This is 100% completely normal with electronic power steering systems.

I can't explain the zig-zagging that you describe, because I don't know if you're naturally overcompensating for a steering system you're not used to. But I think a quick way to figure out whether it's really a problem or not is to visit your dealership and test drive another Focus (or another Ford model) to see if it really is the steering system. I don't want to discredit you entirely because maybe you really may be onto something. But I just figured I'd explain how newer steering systems work.

I can tell you right now that almost all cars that use electronic power steering have speed proportional assist. It took me a while for me to get used to it too when I bought the Rabbit. Sport trim cars (GTI, MazdaSpeed3, etc.) have their assist levels turned a little lower to emulate old school hydraulic power steering responsiveness (which is probably what you're more used to). I'd rather have that feeling too, but unfortunately these cars have steering that's tuned more for comfort rather than precision.

The good news is that the level of assist can be tweaked very easily. People who work for Ford can use a diagnostic tool hooked up to your car's computer to actually change the value of the level of assist (much like changing the mouse sensitivity on your computer). The bad news is that your dealership probably won't let you do it by request. Believe me I've tried to get them to set mine to a sportier setting (GTI's default value) and they refused even when I attempted to bribe them, stating liability reasons.
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Old 07-15-2011, 10:16 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mmmoose View Post
What you're describing is a feature that's common for electronic power steering. It sounds to me like you're used to older cars which use hydraulic assisted steering, where the steering is either loose or tight all the time. With electronic power steering the level of assist the electronic motor applies is proportional to the speed you're traveling.

You can test this out by going to a parking lot and driving around at a very slow speed (~10 mph). Do a few turns and notice how the steering wheel is very loose and easy to turn. Now drive off onto a main road and speed up a bit. As you get closer to 35+ mph, the steering wheel will gradually tighten and become more responsive. This is 100% completely normal with electronic power steering systems.

I can't explain the zig-zagging that you describe, because I don't know if you're naturally overcompensating for a steering system you're not used to. But I think a quick way to figure out whether it's really a problem or not is to visit your dealership and test drive another Focus (or another Ford model) to see if it really is the steering system. I don't want to discredit you entirely because maybe you really may be onto something. But I just figured I'd explain how newer steering systems work.

I can tell you right now that almost all cars that use electronic power steering have speed proportional assist. It took me a while for me to get used to it too when I bought the Rabbit. Sport trim cars (GTI, MazdaSpeed3, etc.) have their assist levels turned a little lower to emulate old school hydraulic power steering responsiveness (which is probably what you're more used to). I'd rather have that feeling too, but unfortunately these cars have steering that's tuned more for comfort rather than precision.

The good news is that the level of assist can be tweaked very easily. People who work for Ford can use a diagnostic tool hooked up to your car's computer to actually change the value of the level of assist (much like changing the mouse sensitivity on your computer). The bad news is that your dealership probably won't let you do it by request. Believe me I've tried to get them to set mine to a sportier setting (GTI's default value) and they refused even when I attempted to bribe them, stating liability reasons.
mmmoose, thank you for your response offering me a driving lesson by explaining the difference between electronic assist and hydraulic power steering; as if I understood how electronic assist worked, then there would not be a problem with the steering. Obviously, I need to explain in more detail. As I said in my first attempt to explain the problem, it is not when the car reaches 60 to 65 mph (if that was the case, I could understand what was going on), but after some distance at that speed. I wonder (I am guessing) if when the car senses no activity, such as on a straight-a-way where there is no correction going on to keep the car straight, then maybe the electronic assist shuts down to save on power for better gas mileage. Now, that's when the steering gets stiff. So when you need to correct it to stay centered in the lane, it takes more pressure to turn the steering wheel, then for an instant, the electronic assist kicks in, the steering loosens up, and the car darts in the direction you were correcting it to go. Then it stiffens up right away, so when you correct it back, the process repeats. So I find myself zig-zagging down the lane. Now I find that if I move the steering wheel back and forth rapidly for a few times (not swerving the car, just shaking the steering wheel left-to-right slightly) I can make the car stop acting up and it will drive fine...sometimes for a long distance, sometimes for a short distance. It's like I have to wake up the steering so it will respond normally without jerking when you try to correct it. I hope this is a better explanation of what's going on with the steering.
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Old 10-29-2011, 09:32 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MN 2012 Ford Focus View Post
mmmoose, thank you for your response offering me a driving lesson by explaining the difference between electronic assist and hydraulic power steering; as if I understood how electronic assist worked, then there would not be a problem with the steering. Obviously, I need to explain in more detail. As I said in my first attempt to explain the problem, it is not when the car reaches 60 to 65 mph (if that was the case, I could understand what was going on), but after some distance at that speed. I wonder (I am guessing) if when the car senses no activity, such as on a straight-a-way where there is no correction going on to keep the car straight, then maybe the electronic assist shuts down to save on power for better gas mileage. Now, that's when the steering gets stiff. So when you need to correct it to stay centered in the lane, it takes more pressure to turn the steering wheel, then for an instant, the electronic assist kicks in, the steering loosens up, and the car darts in the direction you were correcting it to go. Then it stiffens up right away, so when you correct it back, the process repeats. So I find myself zig-zagging down the lane. Now I find that if I move the steering wheel back and forth rapidly for a few times (not swerving the car, just shaking the steering wheel left-to-right slightly) I can make the car stop acting up and it will drive fine...sometimes for a long distance, sometimes for a short distance. It's like I have to wake up the steering so it will respond normally without jerking when you try to correct it. I hope this is a better explanation of what's going on with the steering.
I have the steering problem also and see it as a major safety issue. Just drove from CA to MN and was exhausted keeping it on the road. When the snow flies, I doubt it will stay on the road. I dread driving back and then arguing with the dealer thinking I am another one of those dumb customers imagining things! And I had really looked forward to the trip in my brand new car..
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Old 11-03-2011, 07:45 AM   #6
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steering probblem

I would Like to Thank Natasha and also Nathan at Ford Customer service for helping me get the ball rolling. To enlighten everyone about my daughters 2012 focus look back to page 3 of this problem. Same problem as everyone else is having. with a little help from Natasha and Nate we were able to fix this problem. I should have said all of this 2 months ago. The car sat at the dealership for over 2 weeks back in August, Nate called me and said it would be another 2 weeks for the rack to ship( I said WTF ) I later figured out that ford will not ship parts right off the line cuz First they have to document the problem , Do studies, check part numbers , All to see if the parts they need to fix all came from the same Supplier or even the same batch. with that said . Car is fixed and runs great
and when all of you get your car back... ask ford what they can do for me. we got an extended warrenty 5 year 75,000 mile warrenty for free. So thanks again Ford People. This is what makes America Great. ( PEOPLE HELPING PEOPLE )
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Old 11-03-2011, 09:08 AM   #7
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Unhappy nuts

Quote:
Originally Posted by yamahacreeker View Post
I would Like to Thank Natasha and also Nathan at Ford Customer service for helping me get the ball rolling. To enlighten everyone about my daughters 2012 focus look back to page 3 of this problem. Same problem as everyone else is having. with a little help from Natasha and Nate we were able to fix this problem. I should have said all of this 2 months ago. The car sat at the dealership for over 2 weeks back in August, Nate called me and said it would be another 2 weeks for the rack to ship( I said WTF ) I later figured out that ford will not ship parts right off the line cuz First they have to document the problem , Do studies, check part numbers , All to see if the parts they need to fix all came from the same Supplier or even the same batch. with that said . Car is fixed and runs great
and when all of you get your car back... ask ford what they can do for me. we got an extended warrenty 5 year 75,000 mile warrenty for free. So thanks again Ford People. This is what makes America Great. ( PEOPLE HELPING PEOPLE )
We have been waiting over a month for the parts. The dealer has everything but some nuts. Said ford says they are on backorder until end of November. Larger dealers in Texas have the nuts but are hording them and will not let our dealer have them. As of now we have no one from Ford who will expedite the nuts that are available to others. I wish we had someone who could help us but at this time no one will. If the dealer gets the nuts when ford says they will it would have been over 2 months with this steering problem.
As a 3rd gen loyal Ford buyers family this greatly sadens me.
Its not like we are talking about a loose headliner. Other then Brakes the steering is the next most important safety item. Why the Ford customer service people on this forum help some but not others is a puzzle.
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Old 11-03-2011, 09:22 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by yamahacreeker View Post
I would Like to Thank Natasha and also Nathan at Ford Customer service for helping me get the ball rolling....So thanks again Ford People. This is what makes America Great. ( PEOPLE HELPING PEOPLE )
Thank you so much! Helping resolve your issue was my pleasure.

Quote:
Originally Posted by texas75218 View Post
We have been waiting over a month for the parts. The dealer has everything but some nuts. Said ford says they are on backorder until end of November. Larger dealers in Texas have the nuts but are hording them and will not let our dealer have them. Why the Ford customer service people on this forum help some but not others is a puzzle.
Hi texas75218,

I just responded to your PM, but I'm still waiting on either your VIN or complete address so I can try to look it up that way. I'm unable to proceed further without that information. If you prefer not to send me the details, you are welcome to call our Customer Relationship Center at 800.392.3673.

Thanks for your long-term support!

~Natasha
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Old 05-23-2013, 01:12 PM   #9
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I have the same steering problem, it is scary when you try to straighten the car while doing 60 and it won't turn, then all of a sudden it whips over to the other side of the road.
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Old 07-15-2011, 01:15 AM   #10
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Posted via FF Mobile All cars with electronic power steering have this feature...its not a problem. At highway speed it tightens up because you want to be able to make small inputs to change lanes and stuff, not wrestle the well around. At parking lot speeds, it lightens up so its easy to turn the wheel.
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