Late Christmas for Focus RS Owners as Ford Gifts New Head Gaskets (and Maybe More!)

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

We told you recently of the tsunami of complaints from Ford Focus RS owners swamping the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration — and other agencies — with minor gripes like, say, their brand new car burning engine coolant. Well, there’s a fix afoot.

In a recently released service bulletin, Ford describes the issue plaguing its hottest hatch and vows to replace every cylinder head installed in a Focus RS built between August 3, 2015 to July 6, 2017. That is to say all of them.

Yes, the Field Service Action sent to dealers, first revealed by in template form, does indeed cover the roughly 27,000 Focus RS vehicles sold worldwide for the 2016 and 2017 model year, Jalopnik has confirmed.

It seems the clouds of white smoke emitted from tailpipes upon cold startup and low coolant levels reported by owners were not unlucky flukes. Ford’s dealer notice states “the cylinder head gasket may develop a coolant leak into the engine combustion chamber,” leading to the aforementioned symptoms.

The cure for most vehicles is a new head gasket, though some vehicles, following a mandatory coolant system pressure test, may require the replacement of the 2.3-liter EcoBoost’s cylinder head assembly. Repair costs are covered by Ford, with owners eligible for a car rental while their RS is in the shop. (Note: Drift Mode will be unavailable on the rental.) Depending on scheduling, the work should take less than two full days.

Letters addressed to owners are expected to be mailed out this week, so there might just be a late Christmas present waiting for your at the end of the driveway. Don’t worry, there’s no mileage limit attached to the fix, but there is a time limit. The repair program ends on January 31st, 2019.

For Ford, the admission is an expensive black (Nitrous Blue?) eye for the famed model, through a far worse fate would be to see loyal fans rebell after shoddy treatment. It’s the latest in a line of pricey callbacks for the brand’s models. The last couple of years have seen numerous recalls and TSBs for Blue Oval models with far greater production volume, with issues stemming from weak-willed door latches to finicky seatbelts, wonky transmissions, and engine fires.

[Image: Ford Motor Company]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • OneAlpha OneAlpha on Jan 25, 2018

    "In a recently released service bulletin, Ford describes the issue..." Let's get something straight. Something serious enough to warrant a new head gasket is not an ISSUE, it's a PROBLEM. So sick of dishonest language.

  • Delta9A1 Delta9A1 on Jan 25, 2018

    If white clouds of coolant have run through the exhaust, the cat is likely fried, or at least compromised. Ford should extend the warranty on the emission components. Three years with a GTI and two with a Golf R and the only issue either car has had was the A/C unit on the GTI, which was a warranty fix. But because the early VW 1.8T engine had issues 15 years ago, the internet will say that I am living on borrowed time.

    • Cbrworm Cbrworm on Jan 25, 2018

      14 years ago I bought a new Audi A4 1.8T. Less than 4 years of ownership turned me off to the brand and its cousins forever - despite a previous positive ownership experience with an A8. I am still mad about that A4 and the dealer network. Today's VAG may be totally different, but those of us who were burned will never find out. I find a lot of their new cars appealing, I will gladly rent one, but I will never buy another. Much of the internet feels the same way.

  • Varezhka I have still yet to see a Malibu on the road that didn't have a rental sticker. So yeah, GM probably lost money on every one they sold but kept it to boost their CAFE numbers.I'm personally happy that I no longer have to dread being "upgraded" to a Maxima or a Malibu anymore. And thankfully Altima is also on its way out.
  • Tassos Under incompetent, affirmative action hire Mary Barra, GM has been shooting itself in the foot on a daily basis.Whether the Malibu cancellation has been one of these shootings is NOT obvious at all.GM should be run as a PROFITABLE BUSINESS and NOT as an outfit that satisfies everybody and his mother in law's pet preferences.IF the Malibu was UNPROFITABLE, it SHOULD be canceled.More generally, if its SEGMENT is Unprofitable, and HALF the makers cancel their midsize sedans, not only will it lead to the SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST ones, but the survivors will obviously be more profitable if the LOSERS were kept being produced and the SMALL PIE of midsize sedans would yield slim pickings for every participant.SO NO, I APPROVE of the demise of the unprofitable Malibu, and hope Nissan does the same to the Altima, Hyundai with the SOnata, Mazda with the Mazda 6, and as many others as it takes to make the REMAINING players, like the Excellent, sporty Accord and the Bulletproof Reliable, cheap to maintain CAMRY, more profitable and affordable.
  • GregLocock Car companies can only really sell cars that people who are new car buyers will pay a profitable price for. As it turns out fewer and fewer new car buyers want sedans. Large sedans can be nice to drive, certainly, but the number of new car buyers (the only ones that matter in this discussion) are prepared to sacrifice steering and handling for more obvious things like passenger and cargo space, or even some attempt at off roading. We know US new car buyers don't really care about handling because they fell for FWD in large cars.
  • Slavuta Why is everybody sweating? Like sedans? - go buy one. Better - 2. Let CRV/RAV rust on the dealer lot. I have 3 sedans on the driveway. My neighbor - 2. Neighbors on each of our other side - 8 SUVs.
  • Theflyersfan With sedans, especially, I wonder how many of those sales are to rental fleets. With the exception of the Civic and Accord, there are still rows of sedans mixed in with the RAV4s at every airport rental lot. I doubt the breakdown in sales is publicly published, so who knows... GM isn't out of the sedan business - Cadillac exists and I can't believe I'm typing this but they are actually decent - and I think they are making a huge mistake, especially if there's an extended oil price hike (cough...Iran...cough) and people want smaller and hybrids. But if one is only tied to the quarterly shareholder reports and not trends and the big picture, bad decisions like this get made.