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Discussion Starter #1
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 payed 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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Bunneh Fanatic
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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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GO Green
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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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Highway lane drifting

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 payed 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?
MN 2012 Ford Focus, see this thread http://www.focusfanatics.com/forum/showthread.php?t=261200&page=5&highlight=steering. It’s a defect in the TRW steering rack as noted by fanddp. The problem goes far beyond speed sensitive steering and those not having the problem have difficulty understanding what we are experiencing. I have returned my Focus while they sort it out. Dealer tells me Ford sent a list of parts to be replaced. SEHATCH
 

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Discussion Starter #6
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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Discussion Starter #7
sehatch, thank you for direction to the other thread and for your support. I knew there must be others having the same issue with the steering as I am having. Thanks again!
 

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Hi MN 2012 Ford Focus,

It is my pleasure to help with resolving your drifting concern. Please PM me with your VIN, contact information, mileage, and servicing dealer name/state so I can assist.

~Natasha
 

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Shiny Metal Titanium
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That's someone that works at Ford, they'll help you get things rolling if the dealer is resistant or unable to
 

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I have this noise coming from the front in park and when i am driving slowly as i turn the steering wheel back and forth just aliitle. It sounds like somethings binding.It does not effect the way the car handles. Anyone else have this problem and can someone from Ford check into this for me please..
 

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Why would I give you my peronal information and why can't my dealer take care of it?
As Phokus said, I am with Ford, and can assist if needed. You are welcome to visit your dealer first, just know that I am here to help.

I have this noise coming from the front in park and when i am driving slowly as i turn the steering wheel back and forth just aliitle. It sounds like somethings binding.It does not effect the way the car handles. Anyone else have this problem and can someone from Ford check into this for me please..
Hi lifocus,

Have you had your Focus diagnosed at the dealer? They are best able to resolve your concerns. If you need additional assistance, please PM me with your VIN, contact information, mileage, and servicing dealer name/state.

~Natasha
 

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MN 2012 Ford Focus, I COMPLETELY understand what you are experiencing! I have a 2012 Focus SEL Sedan and I have been feeling it every time I get to highway speeds, and it seems to be even more pronounced when the Cruise Control is on. The zig-zag comment made me shake my head in the affirmative...it gets so tight, that you can't make just a small adjustment without resistance, and when you get enough, it is too much!!

I even had an issue about a month ago where I lost Steering assist all together! Got a message, "Steering lost, please stop safely!". Had it towed to a dealership and it apparently had set codes for "High Friction inside Power Steering". They cleared the codes, and reprogrammed the PSCM with updated software. Got steering back, but it still has the issue we are describing.
 

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They updated the steering module software with TSB update. What does updating software have to do with noise coming from low speed steering and turning steering wheel at low speeds . Even when standing still and turning steering wheel left to right alittle bit. Said the noise was fixed, but when i picked up the car the noise was still there.It seems that they took the easy way out on this one and i called their bluff. Two days wasted at dealership for nothing,and they didnt even look at it until late into the second day.When i called around 2pm they said it wasnt even looked at yet ,but 2 hours later they called and told me the car was finished. I have PM my information to you. Not happy. Dealer wont even let me come down and let a technician take a two minute ride with me. Said i need to tell service advisor when i bring it back again for the second time for same issue.Any help from Fords customer service will be appreciated.....
 

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Hi Natasha -
I have been watching with interest your activity on this forum - it is badly needed. Thank you.
Dealers, particularly their service departments, are generally viewed by car owners as unhelpful, not very competent and very expensive. They deliver the worst experience that most of us ever have relative to out cars. Ford, as well as all the other manufacturers, can greatly improve their public images by making these folks improve their competence, user friendliness and honesty. Survey after survey shows that car owners trust and like independent shops way more than dealers' service departments, and for good reason.
I, for one, will never again do business at a place where I can only talk to a service salesman and not to the mechanic actually doing the work.
Thanks for reading my rant, although I suspect you know it all already.
Regards,
Mononlanco
 

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scottybgood,

I know it can be annoying to have the same issue even after your dealer visit. Please PM me with your VIN, contact information, mileage, & servicing dealer name/state and I will help with your concerns.

lifocus,

Thank you for the PM. I escalated your issue, and will continue to assist. Have a good evening!

Monoblanco,

Thanks for the feedback on my service to this community. I do understand that not everyone has a positive view of the service side, but we expect that all dealers would strive to provide a best-in-class automotive service experience to our customers. I encourage everyone to complete any surveys received from Ford, as that is the best gauge we have of the level of service provided.

~Natasha
 

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Same Thing

I have been experiencing the same steering noise when stopped or at low speed. Also have to correct the steering constantly at highway speeds. When I correct it, I immediately have to turn the other way to keep the car going straight down the road. I made and appointment at the dealer for this Wednesday. This is my first Ford (2012 Focus SEL with 2700 miles). Hope this car is not plagued with problems!
 

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Same steering issue here...

Hey all,

I'm another owner with the steering issue. I've got my 5-door at the dealership for the second time thanks to the issue. They're being very nice and helpful, but didn't feel the issue today while I went for a ride with them.

So today they let me take another Titanium-trim Focus for a drive, and the steering and throttle response were both so much sharper; it was just amazing. The shop foreman that drove with me did remind me about the car's memory, whereby it learns your driving style so it can behave more like you'd expect it to, but it's as though my car is a rebellious teenager, listening only after I remind it who's boss, whereas the one they let me use as comparison was exactly what it should've been... a precise machine that does only exactly what it's told.

They've got my car still, so they can talk to the boffins in Dearborn. I also sent them a link to this thread so they can read explanation other than my "there's like a notch at dead-center that you have to push past before it will steer."

I can give slack with the MyFord Touch issues, since I'm a programmer, but I cannot imagine trying to drive in slick situations with a car that won't allow small corrections in steering. That could be downright dangerous, and I'm not willing to blemish the beautiful smile the Focus wears (especially since I'll be paying for the car for the next few years.)

Oh, and I haven't heard any noises with the steering, but I do hear a strange creeking-groan in the suspension when going very slowly. I suspect that the noise always happens, but that road noise drowns it out at speed. At this point I'm not sure if this is a problem, or just the noise struts and bushings make, but I did let them know about this today also. Thankfully the shop foreman heard this as well, and the test car made it as well, so at least they know I'm not totally bonkers.

So, I'm going to play the waiting game while the dealership (again, very nice and willing to help, just also perplexed by the issue) can communicate with the Ford mothership. I do know this much, as soon as it is sorted out I'm going to tear up the roads in the nearby mountains. That's a joy I've not yet gotten to experience in the 1000 miles I've driven my Focus so far.
 

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I too have noticed a highway steering input problem with my Focus. Staying firm in my lane appears to be an issue, with a dead spot on center. Minor corrections lead to an over-boosted response which leads to an over-correction. She's spot on on the side roads, but above 65 mph, at steady state cruise, she's overly twitchy. MN 2012 Focus's description is spot on.

I sold cars for years, many different brands, and this is not a case of having to adjust to electric v. hydraulic steering feel.

On a side note, I'm also experiencing severe whistling coming off my side mirrors at speed. Anyone else? This is a link to another thread regarding that.

http://www.focusfanatics.com/forum/showthread.php?t=264563
 

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How much would I lose on a trade in?

Oh man... So I wasn't imagining the wind noise from the one time I've been able to drive windows-open? I've only had the car two weeks (800 miles)... and have found more issues and annoyances than the 2003 Hyundai Elantra I put 140,000 issue-free miles on, or the 2006 Ford Fusion I traded in after 100,000 issue-free miles.

I thought buying a car that's been out in Europe for years would have meant fewer problems.

I really am considering trading it in, but fear the financial hit that'd be...
 
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