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Old 06-27-2013, 09:40 PM   #1
dougfunnie
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Considering 2013 Focus SE Automatic - should I?

Hello!

I have recently been considering purchasing a 2013 Focus SE hatchback with automatic (OK, semi-automatic) trans. I was drawn by all of the good reviews on sites like Edmunds and The Car Connection. Compared to the Hyundai Veloster I'd been considering, it seemed like a better deal, with more horsepower and increased MPG.

However, after doing more research and reading reviews from owners, I'm alarmed by all of the reports of Focus transmission issues, particularly the grinding and rattling noises. I'm definitely reconsidering now. I can't drive a stick and don't wish to, so an automatic trans is a must for me.

A few questions:

1. What is the consensus on the automatic transmission in the 2013 SE model? Have the issues with grinding/rattling and rough shifting been worked out since the 2012 model, or no?

2. Is there any data on how widespread these transmission problems are? I notice that this issue isn't mentioned in any of the professional reviews for the 2012/2013 Focus models, though perhaps they tested the manual trans. Is the general consensus that these are isolated build quality problems, or will all vehicles with this transmission have the same issues?

3. Is there any expectation that these issues will be resolved in the 2014 Focus? Would it be wise to wait for that model?

In short, after reading about these transmission issues, I'm thinking it would be wise to run far away from the Focus. Is there any reason I should reconsider?


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Old 06-27-2013, 10:06 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dougfunnie View Post
Hello!

I have recently been considering purchasing a 2013 Focus SE hatchback with automatic (OK, semi-automatic) trans. I was drawn by all of the good reviews on sites like Edmunds and The Car Connection. Compared to the Hyundai Veloster I'd been considering, it seemed like a better deal, with more horsepower and increased MPG.

However, after doing more research and reading reviews from owners, I'm alarmed by all of the reports of Focus transmission issues, particularly the grinding and rattling noises. I'm definitely reconsidering now. I can't drive a stick and don't wish to, so an automatic trans is a must for me.

A few questions:

1. What is the consensus on the automatic transmission in the 2013 SE model? Have the issues with grinding/rattling and rough shifting been worked out since the 2012 model, or no?

2. Is there any data on how widespread these transmission problems are? I notice that this issue isn't mentioned in any of the professional reviews for the 2012/2013 Focus models, though perhaps they tested the manual trans. Is the general consensus that these are isolated build quality problems, or will all vehicles with this transmission have the same issues?

3. Is there any expectation that these issues will be resolved in the 2014 Focus? Would it be wise to wait for that model?

In short, after reading about these transmission issues, I'm thinking it would be wise to run far away from the Focus. Is there any reason I should reconsider?
Well.

1) While the 2013 models may be better, DCT problems persist for a small but meaningful number of owners

2) Only Ford knows how widespread the problem is. Lots of grousing here but hard to extrapolate to the entire population. But, we hear owners lucky enough to have their DCTs fixed have to wait for back-ordered parts and my service advisor acknowledges there are lots of unhappy DCT owners. There are happy owners, too, so it may be a combination of people expecting a conventional automatic and real quality control issues. Car magazines gravitate toward manual gearbox cars, but are generally unenthusiastic about DCTs as found in Fords, Dodges and the like.

3) The Focus has been out for the better part of 2 years and while Ford has made a number of steps to try to remove DCT issues but they seem to persist. I don't know why we should expect something magical to occur with the 2014 models.

In my view, if you want a manual transmission car the Focus is a great choice: great economy, quality materials, quiet cruising, good handling and few real trouble areas. If you need an automatic though, I'd look elsewhere.
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Old 06-27-2013, 10:21 PM   #3
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I have a 2013 Focus SE Hatch with DCT and I have no grinding issues or rattling noises. Not all DCT Foci are duds. Don't let the negative reviews/posts scare you. For every one un satisfied customer writing a negative post, there's 10x more happy customers out and about driving their new car without a problem. You most likely wont find them going online to leave an "I'm happy with my car" post. Choose for yourself and don't let someone tell you what to do. Good luck.
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Old 06-27-2013, 10:23 PM   #4
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Btw. I love my 2013 Focus SE Hatch, 201A Package w/DCT!!
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Old 06-27-2013, 10:34 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlueByYou28 View Post
I have a 2013 Focus SE Hatch with DCT and I have no grinding issues or rattling noises. Not all DCT Foci are duds. Don't let the negative reviews/posts scare you. For every one un satisfied customer writing a negative post, there's 10x more happy customers out and about driving their new car without a problem. You most likely wont find them going online to leave an "I'm happy with my car" post. Choose for yourself and don't let someone tell you what to do. Good luck.
+1 Execpt I have a 2012 Ti Hatch w/ Handling Package. Only thing I don't like about the car are the OEM all-weather mats, and select shift is a toggle on the side of the gear lever instead of a typical flappy-paddle or tiptronic system.
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Old 06-27-2013, 10:40 PM   #6
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Btw. I love my 2013 Focus SE Hatch, 201A Package w/DCT!!
I love mine too.
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Old 06-27-2013, 11:08 PM   #7
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I have a 13 SE 201A Sedan. I got a sedan because I had trucks all my life and wanted a dam trunk. God I love opening the trunk. Anyway, Mine was built 1/21/13, Purchased mid Feb. It was odd at first because it "learns" how you drive. I had a couple of odd moments in the beginning.(couple of months after) After that all was great. Bragged on here of no problems.
Monday this week,(8500 Miles) ( I basically drive it 90% HWY) I get going on the Tollway and it down shifts at 50, then jerked and up shifts and goes faster, then down shifts. I was like WTH. Quickly turned around and dropped it off at ford.
Service advisor said its most likely and engine problem. I explain no its the transmission. He said it will take a day in the engine bay and the move to the tranny bay the next IF that's it. Dude it needs to go to the tranny bay. So 2 days later he calls , says there was an update needed to the transmission.
Tech says might act odd for a week because it will relearn your driving habits, then should be good to go.
So far has been much better since I got it back. Seems much smoother.

Long story short, I love the car. I have the 201A package. I would have got the Ti but didn't want the MFT or sun/moon roof. I find it very comfortable , Drives smooth. Actually thinking of getting another one.
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Old 06-27-2013, 11:57 PM   #8
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The True Delta website indicates excellent lemon odds and reliability for the new Focus and repair reports indicate some trans problems with most fixed by simple reprogramming. But note there are few trans problems reported.

Websites like this do not attract a normal cross section of owners and opinions and topics tend to be self reinforcing. You're actually dealing with a VERY small number of people here and many are here expressly because they have trouble with the car. This site is not a reflection of the real percentage of faulty Focuses.

For what it's worth my 2012 Focus SLE with the DCT now has 20,000 miles and no problems.
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Old 06-28-2013, 12:09 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dougfunnie View Post
Hello!

I have recently been considering purchasing a 2013 Focus SE hatchback with automatic (OK, semi-automatic) trans. I was drawn by all of the good reviews on sites like Edmunds and The Car Connection. Compared to the Hyundai Veloster I'd been considering, it seemed like a better deal, with more horsepower and increased MPG.

However, after doing more research and reading reviews from owners, I'm alarmed by all of the reports of Focus transmission issues, particularly the grinding and rattling noises. I'm definitely reconsidering now. I can't drive a stick and don't wish to, so an automatic trans is a must for me.

A few questions:

1. What is the consensus on the automatic transmission in the 2013 SE model? Have the issues with grinding/rattling and rough shifting been worked out since the 2012 model, or no?

2. Is there any data on how widespread these transmission problems are? I notice that this issue isn't mentioned in any of the professional reviews for the 2012/2013 Focus models, though perhaps they tested the manual trans. Is the general consensus that these are isolated build quality problems, or will all vehicles with this transmission have the same issues?

3. Is there any expectation that these issues will be resolved in the 2014 Focus? Would it be wise to wait for that model?

In short, after reading about these transmission issues, I'm thinking it would be wise to run far away from the Focus. Is there any reason I should reconsider?
a lot of professional reviews DO mention the 'quirky' or 'sluggish' or 'jerky' DCT. They say it rolls back on hills and is jerky at low speeds while parking or from take off or in reverse on a driveway or downshifts unnecessarily on freeway hills or doesn't do so when needed, etc. I can't point you to the exact reviews because I've read so many, but it wasn't hard to find them. Edmunds mentions it HERE. DCT is a tricky thing, all the BMW's that started having them in 2008 are having major issues with them now. Unless it's in a high end car or race car it's hard to do them right. Just find the exact car you want at a dealership and test drive the crap out of it. I liked the DCT focus I test drove, but I'm a manual transmission guy, love it! I didn't want to take a chance on the tranny being a dud, plus it's $1,000 more! If you're not a MT guy, maybe the Focus isn't for you...Mazda3, Civic, Elantra are better bets...
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Last edited by Von551; 06-28-2013 at 12:14 AM. Reason: info
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Old 06-28-2013, 01:58 AM   #10
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a lot of professional reviews DO mention the 'quirky' or 'sluggish' or 'jerky' DCT. They say it rolls back on hills and is jerky at low speeds while parking or from take off or in reverse on a driveway or downshifts unnecessarily on freeway hills...
Did all of the Focuses used in these reviews have the newest transmission and engine calibrations (firmware)?

It's probably safe to say that they didn't (in which case their comments about the DCT clearly do not apply to what is currently rolling off of the assembly line).

Having had 3 calibration updates in 2+ years of ownership, I can tell you that my DCT went from being not very good to damn good (and this is with an "old" clutch assembly).

It seems people forget that the DCT is controlled by a processor.
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