Ford Confirms Focus RS Engine Woes; Company Working on a Fix
It’s not just scorched rubber that’s responsible for the clouds of white smoke surrounding some Ford Focus RS models. The model’s high-output 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder, credited with turning the staid Focus 5-door into a performance hatch worthy of fanboy lust, seems to have a serious flaw.
Numerous complaints of white exhaust smoke seen during cold startups has forced the automaker to admit there’s a problem with the FoRS. The 2.3-liter is not electing a new Pope, as TTAC’s Matthew Guy quipped this morning — it’s burning coolant.
According to Autocar, 2016 and 2017 Focus RS models with as little as 6,000 miles on the odometer are experiencing the issue. Of course, Blue Oval fans who regularly visit the FocusRS.org forum already know something’s up, as the site’s dedicated “failed/leaking head gasket resource thread” currently has 247 pages of complaints and discussion.
While there’s no recall for the issue, a Ford spokesman told Autocar that the automaker is “working on a repair for all customers,” implying a solution that spans all owners, not just those with complaints.
“In the meantime, if vehicles show these symptoms, customers should visit their dealer for an inspection and repair under warranty,” the spokesman said.
At least one American 2016 owner has taken their coolant-related complaint to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The Georgia driver’s complaint is straightforward:
AT 26000 MILES MY HEAD GASKET HAD TO BE REPLACED. STARTED WITH ROUGH MORNING START WHITE SMOKE AND LOSS OF COOLANT. LEAK WAS CONFIRMED IN CYLINDER 3. THE CAR IS STOCK WITH NO MODIFICATIONS.
While the issue sounds like a simple head gasket failure, it seems that’s not necessarily the case. Owners claim block distortion experienced over multiple heat cycles creates an opening between the engine block and cylinder head that the gasket can’t seal, thus allowing coolant to enter the cylinders when cold. The fact that some owners have received new engines built to a different spec adds to the theory.
Owners of other 2.3-liter EcoBoost Ford products shouldn’t worry, as the RS engine uses a different aluminum alloy in its block, cast-iron cylinder liners, and has its own head gasket design.
All Focus RS models were built at the company’s Saarlouis, Germany assembly plant. After entertaining Europeans for years, the model entered the hot hatch Hall of Fame after making a long-awaited trip to North America in late 2015. The current generation dried up after the release of 1,500 Special Edition 2018 models tuned by Ford Performance.
[Image: Ford Motor Company]
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- Fred I don't know about those big screens. Is there a way to minimize the display, so it's not so distracting? Especially at night the glow doesn't make it easy for me.
- Arthur Dailey Toronto Blue Jays' games are only available on AM radio. As I am 'on the road' quite often when the Jays play that is my only option for listening to the game. So an AM radio is something of a 'must have' for me.
- JMII My brother tracked one of these for several years... it will embarrass other sports cars. He sold it to someone who still rips it around on track days. Given my previous VW experience I wouldn't touch it but these are surprising quick and handle well for hatchback credit going to a decent AWD system. $16k seems crazy, but Rs aren't that common and this one appears to be in great condition and seems well sorted.
- Arthur Dailey I meant the grille and the profile along the passenger area. Look closely and it is reminiscent of the Journey.
- Daniel 16500 pesos
Ford has consulted the experts in the field and proposed a solution: "Subaru coolant conditioner; Subaru coolant conditioner for all!"
You have got to wonder about the quality of Ford engineers. I know a Ford engineer who told me Ford employees engineers who do not hold 4 year engineering degrees. Furthermore, he told me Ford has been known to choose a hire based on gender or skin color even if it meant taking a less qualified individual. I would bet Toyota would never do either of these.