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I'm in central NC, and I've owned two Focus wagons...2004 (destroyed in deer accident) and 2003 which we still have and love. About two years back my older son purchased a 2013 Focus hatchback, and almost immediately ran into the dreaded automatic transmission issues. It took a while, but Ford finally relented and fixed things under warranty by dropping the tranny, replacing seals, clutches, etc. This son lives in Raleigh, NC area. Now my younger son is interested in getting a Focus hatchback similar to his brother's in 2012-2015 year range.

So here's the concern. Despite liking the Focus hatchback's design, handling, features, etc., younger son is now getting very nervous because of all he is hearing about these horrible transmissions, people getting stranded, class-action suits, etc. This forum is for and about people who generally like these cars, I think. How would you respond? Are the transmission things overblown? If you had it to do over, would you buy something different? What's the opinion of the manual transmission in this year range.

I figure it's wise to get the opinions of those who know this car best.
 

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3rd Time's the Charm
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If you can drive a 5 speed, get a used 5 speed and laugh all the way to the bank in a super reliable, fun, easy to fix, responds well to mods toy. For example, my 2013 SE, decked out with everything except sunroof, sold at the dealer with 85k miles on it for only 7k. Insanity.

If you need auto, get a CPO with an extended warranty.

Simple as that. The auto's are hit or miss, but the cars are too good and too cheap because of all the negative press to let go without at least looking.
 
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w/ my magic bag
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He should be looking at a stick car, if he wants the newer mk3 vs the earlier mk1/2.
 

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I'm in central NC, and I've owned two Focus wagons...2004 (destroyed in deer accident) and 2003 which we still have and love. About two years back my older son purchased a 2013 Focus hatchback, and almost immediately ran into the dreaded automatic transmission issues. It took a while, but Ford finally relented and fixed things under warranty by dropping the tranny, replacing seals, clutches, etc. This son lives in Raleigh, NC area. Now my younger son is interested in getting a Focus hatchback similar to his brother's in 2012-2015 year range.

So here's the concern. Despite liking the Focus hatchback's design, handling, features, etc., younger son is now getting very nervous because of all he is hearing about these horrible transmissions, people getting stranded, class-action suits, etc. This forum is for and about people who generally like these cars, I think. How would you respond? Are the transmission things overblown? If you had it to do over, would you buy something different? What's the opinion of the manual transmission in this year range.

I figure it's wise to get the opinions of those who know this car best.
I have only heard good things about the manual. dumped my 2012 DCT after watching hundreds of posts here and no one ever getting a lasting fix. Please do a google search for focus transmission lawsuit before letting anyone buy the automatic, lest ye become poster 799 here, looking for advice
 

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... If you had it to do over, would you buy something different? ...
Maybe I'd buy a hatchback rather than a sedan.

I still prefer the appearance of my sedan and the deeper trunk with its longer (by 7") trunk floor, but loading and unloading stuff through the smaller opening under its fixed rear window and shelf is annoying compared to the hatch. The hatch also has those two cool grab handles for closing it, not to mention how hard it is to wash the inside of the sedan's back window.

... What's the opinion of the manual transmission in this year range. ...
I LOVE my 2014 5 speed manual SE sedan with the Sport Package!

I must confess my bias, though. Every car I have bought for myself since the first one 49 years ago has had a manual transmission. Whenever I've driven automatics for any distance (rentals, my wife's car, etc.) I could see why people like them, but also why I did not. When I read the usual comments about people not wanting to drive a manual because of heavy stop and go traffic I understand, but it does not seem to be any more difficult for me to push the clutch in and out with my left foot than it is to do that on the brake or gas pedals with my right, or to move the steering wheel one way or the other with my hands.

... I figure it's wise to get the opinions of those who know this car best.
True, but don't rely only on us. He really needs to drive different examples and compare them.

Before deciding on mine I used the "Rent to Buy" plan at Hertz to drive a 2013 SE hatchback with the dual clutch "automatic" trans (DCT) for a week on the (sometimes insane) mountain and canyon roads I drive on these days just for fun. It had the more expensive "Appearance Package" with leather seats and larger diameter (17" vs 16") wheels. When I was younger its sharper steering response and cornering would have been worth the harsher ride and higher price, but not so these days. That's the kind of choice he'd have to make for himself.

If he really has to have an automatic, it looks like the risk of problems decreased a lot with the newer design from 2016 on. It might be worth doing the math to see how much it would cost to buy a 2012-2015 with a known bad DCT and replace it with a new "crate" DCT as an alternative to buying a 2016 or later. Not sure how much the nicer 2015+ interior would be worth and everyone has their own opinions on exterior styling differences.
 
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