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Old 07-01-2012, 08:37 AM   #1
Pennut
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Unhappy Bad steering?

I seem to have this steering problem on my 2012 Focus SE. I bought my Focus last october. As of right now I have just under 10k miles on it. I've read other forum posts where members talk about the steering being so bad that when they drive down the road they are "sawing back and forth on the steering wheel left to right making course corrections" or something to that effect. Mine doesn't seem to be that bad to that extent, but mine is enough that it is very annoying. I think I know why this is happening.

Okay so when I bought the car I noticed the car would seem to require all these little course corrections left to right when I drive down a relatively straight road. When I'm going around a curve on the highway, I can feel the steering wheel wanting to pull in th opposite direction that I'm turning. Also the steering seemed just overall too heavy, even for a front wheel drive car. Now this is only the second car I've owned with electric steering. I had a new 2011 Fiesta and put 8700 miles on it before trading it for the Focus. The Fiesta's steering was perfect. Steering effort was dead on and none of this wandering garbage like my Focus. But with the Focus I thought that maybe the tires just needed to wear in a bit or some such. When I test drove a Focus before buying mine, I really didn't drive it much ( probably less than 10 miles) on the test drive, so I really didn't have a basis for comparison with mine. I mean it was a test drive. Not like I could really spend a lot of time with it. But at my first 5000 mile scheduled maintanence, I mentioned it. They told me they didn't detect anything. But the mechanic didn't put that many miles on it (maybe 5 miles tops) and the roads around the dealership are mostly all straight and 40-45 mph zones.

Okay so a couple of weeks ago I flew out to California for a week and got a Focus sedan as a rental. Had like 24,800 miles on it. I drove from San Francisco, up the Pacific coast highway, up into Oregon (to Crater lake) and back down through Napa valley back to San Francisco where I turned the car in. I did this over a weeks time and put just under 1600 miles on the car. So I got to spend some time with the rental under all differnt conditions. Hills, flats, steep curves, etc. So now I really had a basis for comparison between another Focus and my own. Results? The rental Focus steered perfectly. Showed none of the symptoms of my Focus and was a pleasure to drive unlike mine is.

So here is what I think is wrong with mine in a nutshell. The steering wheel is trying to return to center too agressively. I know the steering wheel should try to return to center after you make a turn or steer off center, but mine seems to be doing it way too hard. It's really evident when going around a turn on the highway. Now I could see if I was going around a hairpin turn at high speed. Sure the car is going to pull to the outside of the turn from the centrifigal force under those conditions. But driving on a long gentle curve 60-65 mph, the car shouldn't be acting like it wants to drive the opposite direction I'm steering. In other words if I'm going around a corner that curves to the right, I can really feel the steering wheel pulling to the left. Now I'm not saying I have to hold the steering wheel down with tons of force to counteract it, but it's there. Way more than it should be. And it's even been dangerous on a few occasions IMO when I've been going around a curve with a car beside me in the other lane. As I was going though the curve, I let up the pressure on the steering wheel just a little too much and the car jinked towards the other lane. Luckily I was able to react quick enough, and steer it back the other way in time. A car's steering wheel should not be trying to "return to center" with that much force.

So perhaps other members cars with the steering problems are doing the same thing? It would make sense. If they are driving down a road that even looks like it's staight and have to make little course corrections (because no road is going to be perfectly staright or level) left to right, they are steering the steering wheel off center, even if only a little bit. So if the steering wheel is agressively trying to return to center, it will feel like the car is pulling or wandering the opposite way they are steering the steering wheel off it's center. Does that make sense? Around town it's more of an annoyance, but where I really feel it is around curves at highway speeds under the conditions I've described. I really like my Focus and hope it can be put right. Otherwise I may ultimately have to get rid of the car in the spring.



Last edited by Pennut; 07-01-2012 at 08:37 AM. Reason: spelling error
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Old 07-01-2012, 09:06 AM   #2
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I think this is the thread - www.focusfanatics.com/forum/showthread.php?t=282053&highlight
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Old 07-01-2012, 09:18 AM   #3
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For what it's worth, my Focus does the exact same thing. I find it feels too heavy most of the time, and it springs back to center way too hard... except when going slow, when I actually have to force it back straight.

I had electric steering on my previous car (Rabbit), and it was about the only part of the car I actually quite liked. I agree the Fiesta's steering is actually excellent, too. The Focus just doesn't feel right... too heavy, and sometimes it's fighting really hard, sometimes it isn't doing a thing.

Good luck getting it resolved at all, though. I can see dealers refusing to ever admit there's anything wrong with it...
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Old 07-01-2012, 11:41 AM   #4
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This is of course totally subjective, but I think generally the steering on the Focus is too light. But in turns it seems to firm up some and the car holds a line really well (I don't find myself having to make corrections mid-turn, unless I've screwed the turn up myself).

Something else to think about is that the EPAS system has drift control and will try to keep you in a straight line in spite of road irregularities or crosswinds. Maybe that's what you're feeling and you're just not used to it? Or maybe it's not working correctly?
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Old 07-01-2012, 11:49 AM   #5
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Also maybe check your tire pressures. And look for uneven wear. Could be something that simple.
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Old 07-01-2012, 11:59 AM   #6
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Mine came back last week from having the 3rd rack put in. Apparently they redesigned it, and it's much, much better than it was. I still don't like the vague numbness that is apparently part of EPAS, but I just drove it 310 miles yesterday and there was no zig-zagging or anything like that. Hopefully it stays this way! I'd say to elevate it to Ford Customer Service.
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Old 07-01-2012, 12:05 PM   #7
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My 2012 has just ordinary steering to my senses.
It turns and never does anything weird. No puulling or anything.
Just mentioning it.
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Old 07-01-2012, 01:39 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Altis View Post
For what it's worth, my Focus does the exact same thing. I find it feels too heavy most of the time, and it springs back to center way too hard... except when going slow, when I actually have to force it back straight.

I had electric steering on my previous car (Rabbit), and it was about the only part of the car I actually quite liked. I agree the Fiesta's steering is actually excellent, too. The Focus just doesn't feel right... too heavy, and sometimes it's fighting really hard, sometimes it isn't doing a thing.
Good luck getting it resolved at all, though. I can see dealers refusing to ever admit there's anything wrong with it...
No, like I said in my post, the rental Focus did not have these issues and it's steering was as good as my Fiestas. I beleive the rental was an earlier build also as it had the speaker in the middle of the dashboard. I believe they deleted the middle speaker in the SE's. Mine does not have it even though mine is optioned with the sport option, sync, etc.

Bimmer-Bob, the tire pressure is the first thing I checked. Also no tire wear indicating a bad steering component such as a bad ball joint. I used to work on my own cars and I've done just about everything short of rebuilding an engine so I know quite a bit about cars and what can cause what. I just stopped doing my own work because I no longer have the time or a place to do the work. Besides why should I on a new car under warranty? Also I had my alignment checked. A bad alignment would cause pulling to one side or the other. Wouldn't make the steering wheel jerk back to center. Low tire pressure would do the same as a bad alignment. But in my experience the tire would have to be very low. Like 15 lbs or more under. A bad ball joint would put wear on the tire, usually on the inside of the tire AND it would usually make a noise when you do a slow turn, like backing out of a parking lot. No, I think it;s the motor in the steering trying to force the wheel to center itself. My guess is because it's electric, it has a program to tell it to do so. As far as electric steering, from my research on other car reviews with it, usually the critics say it feels artificial or too light. Never heard of them say it yanks itself back to center like mine does.

As far as a dealer saying there's nothing wrong with it, can't discount everyone else such as on these and other Ford forums that say they experince a similar problem. Especially when others have had thier steering racks replaced to correct the problem. Personally I know I am not imagining it. My Focus definately has a problem. I am taking it in tomorrow to be checked again.
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Old 07-01-2012, 01:41 PM   #9
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By the way, I think my build date was May 2011. So not an early build.
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Old 07-01-2012, 02:09 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pennut View Post
I am taking it in tomorrow to be checked again.
Good luck. Seems like it shouldn't be a big deal since there's a TSB on it?

I just mentioned the air pressures, etc., because of the wandering issue and thought you should quickly rule out the basics stuff first, which you've already done. Did not mean to imply that you didn't know what you were doing or talking about.
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