By on January 24, 2018

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 FocusRS.org 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]

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42 Comments on “Late Christmas for Focus RS Owners as Ford Gifts New Head Gaskets (and Maybe More!)...”


  • avatar
    indi500fan

    You get a head gasket, you get a head gasket, EVERYBODY gets a head gasket.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Head gasket replacement on ALL of these cars?

    Man, that’s going to cost a few bucks. I’d say heads rolled over this one.

    • 0 avatar
      indi500fan

      I read somewhere it’s spec’d at about 10 hours labor.
      Not sure what the Ford warranty reimbursement rate is, but let’s guess $100 an hour.
      So 27 mil there plus all the parts, loaners, etc.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Time for anyone involved to get the ol’ resume shined up.

        • 0 avatar
          SPPPP

          My estimate – 90% chance it was due to a “value engineering” decision. IE, Ford could have made it more robust, but opted to try to save money.

          • 0 avatar
            bluegoose

            Agreed. It’s the same with the Neon head gaskets back in the nineties.

          • 0 avatar
            SCE to AUX

            Bozi thinks the supplier may have sent the wrong part to Ford, and so it was inadvertently assembled with the wrong part.

            The part is strikingly similar to the HG used in the Mustang 2.3L EcoBoost.

            http://www.roadandtrack.com/car-culture/buying-maintenance/a14510137/ford-focus-rs-head-gasket-issues/

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            There’s an article on this. They designed a special head gasket for it but somehow the wrong one made it to production.

            A thousand bucks a car, especially when they sold for at least MSRP, is not terrible. Ford is still deep in the black on these

    • 0 avatar
      White Shadow

      I heard they increased the MSRP of every 2018 Mustang by $1.00 to pay for this….

      • 0 avatar
        SPPPP

        I read the article, which is interesting. If the supplier messed up, presumably there will be a repercussion and some kind of action so Ford can recover costs from the supplier. Or is it possible that the substitution took place in the Ford factory, and so Ford has no recourse? (Like, someone just stumbled over a pallet of the correct gaskets in the corner of the factory and went, “Uh oh…”)

  • avatar
    deanst

    And you get carbon monoxide poisoning, and you get carbon………..

  • avatar
    EAF

    Head gaskets. Engine fires. Camshaft failures. Exhaust manifolds & monoxide. Condensation in intercoolers. Shift column selectors. Module water intrusion. Leaky master cylinders / boosters. Random 1st gear mis-shifting transmissions.

    What did I forget?

    I must say, aside from some rust on their undercarriages, the HUGE fleet of Fusions at work have been incredibly reliable. I couldn’t even begin to describe the abuse & neglect they are subjected to! None are Ecoboost.

    Edit: Just remembered airbag recall.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    I think that it would behove all manufacturers of high horsepower, small displacement engines to dispense with head gaskets entirely as Offenhauser did back in the day. Head gasket problem solved once and for all!

  • avatar
    jalop1991

    “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.”

    Replace EVERY CYLINDER HEAD INSTALLED IN A FOCUS RS BUILT BETWEEN 8/3/15 TO 7/6/17???

    EVERY CYLINDER HEAD?

    ‘Cuz that’s what this genius piece of “journalism” says. Ford is replacing EVERY CYLINDER HEAD. Not just the gasket–the HEAD.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Everyone is recalled for inspection. After a pressure test is conducted thr decision will be made or following a guideline to replace the Mustang gasket. The pressure check is for gasket. If thr gasket is already leaking then the head is suspect to being damaged. I think I got their chronology correct.

    • 0 avatar

      “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.”

      I think this quote from the article is evidence that “most” will get the gasket and “some” will get the head.

  • avatar
    relton

    My experience at Ford tells me that heads will NOT roll. Responsibility will be so diffused as to who made this particular decision that there will not be a name attached to it.

    In addition, even if there is a guilty party, chances are that he/she has moved on to another job at Ford.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    On one note, remaking (I believe it is just some gel) head gasket in the repair shop environment is not the same as robot setting it up. Future problems a big possibility

    On the other note, I feel so smart that I didn’t pull the trigger on Ecoboost Mustang. It must have same issues. I was preferring v6 one but couldn’t find it 1yo.

  • avatar
    Joss

    I guess we may assume Focus electric to be the lowest maintenance most reliable foci to date…

  • avatar
    Erikstrawn

    Every time I hear about a boosted 4-cylinder hatchback putting out near as much horsepower as a naturally aspirated V8, I can’t help but think of the short life span of the head gasket. This is why in twenty years a V8 Mustang will be a bargain buy and a Focus RS in driveable condition will be rarer and still less valuable.

  • avatar
    AK

    Not sure what’s going on in this comment section or post…

    They’re not replacing 27,000 cylinder heads. They issued a TSB for ALL Focus RSs but that doesn’t mean everyone is affected. The Road & Track articles about this situation are quite clear about the cause of this issue and also that it affects a relatively small amount of cars.

    So yeah, every RS is open to be checked out to make sure they don’t have the incorrect gasket. And yeah, if it’s found to be installed on your car and it’s caused damage, you’ll get a new head installed under warranty.

    This was a poorly written post with a comment section that reacted accordingly.

    Good work.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Finally someone has lined up all the info and threw out thr mis-information.

      They should have J Baruth write via Matt Farah and it would have been more concise.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Another head gasket issue? Really? Doesn’t Ford, GM and FCA know how to build cars anymore?

    You know, it’s no secret why Toyota and Honda are taking over. American OEMs – ALL of them, just will not or cannot build a car that is consistent in durability and reliability without something going wrong.

    Takata airbags excepted.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Unlike Sudden Accleration that was well documented here about loose floor mats and CTS pedals that needed trimming, Toyota has had it share of full line of missing fail-safes in their ecu coding. That was millions this is a 48 RS’S based on assembly dates UT Ford is covering their butt to double checking all of them for installer or supplier mix up of gaskets.

  • avatar
    SemiPro

    Unfortunately, Jalopnik got this wrong and this misinformation seems to be spreading because they keep getting quoted. Not ALL FoRS are included in this FSA. Only those built up to July 6, 2017. That means none of the 2018 LE cars are included and there are some 2017 cars that are not included. Mine was built in August, 2017 and there is no FSA associated with my VIN. I know others have reported the same.

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    Better than how Subaru has handles the STI Ringland failures as in to say they have not…

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    “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.

  • avatar
    Delta9A1

    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.

    • 0 avatar
      cbrworm

      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.

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