Ford acknowledges engine issues with early-production Focus RS

2016 Ford Focus RS
The Ford Focus RS is one of the benchmarks of the “hot hatchback” group, offering incredible performance for the money. However, it seems the Focus RS is off to a bit of a rough start. According to various reports, early-production and model-year versions of Dearborn’s performance five-door are prone to head gasket failures, leading to poor running conditions and steamy cold starts. Imagine having spent up to $45,000 on a 2016 or 2017 Focus RS, only to have it experience engine failures in fewer than 10,000 miles.

The issue came to light initially after various postings through online community forums, like, hailed the attention of Jalopnik in November.

There, thousands of posts accumulated, all from concerned owners of the brand-spanking’ new Focus RS who were experiencing the same issues: misfiring, more than normal amounts of white smoke, the smell of coolant in the exhaust, a check engine light, a loss of HVAC heating capabilities, and more. While it sounds like all the symptoms of a failed head gasket, new developments linked the cause to a faulty head design, leading to warped cylinder heads from oversensitivity to the everyday heat cycle of starting a cold motor and warming it up to optimal operating temperature.

A warped cylinder head is no small mishap, which prevents the head (the top half of the engine consisting of the valvetrain) from being properly seated onto the block. When improperly mounted, it compromises the integrity of the head gasket. And the head gasket creates the necessary seal between the head and the block to maintain compression while keeping internal fluids like coolant and oil from leaking into the cylinders during the combustion cycle as they flow through engine.

However, it isn’t just isolated to models sold in a particular market, with owners in Europe and North America taking to various forums and online communities to share their Focus RS woes. Now, several months following initial complaints, Ford apparently acknowledged the issue officially in a recent report from Autocar.

Currently, a spokesman for Ford told the outlet that a fix is in the works for all customers, even for those not experiencing issues. However, the company didn’t comment as to whether or not such a large-scale problem would lead to a global recall. So far, Ford admitted to replacing several engines already for those severely affected by this issue.

Interestingly, the Ford Focus RS’s 2.3-liter turbocharged EcoBoost four-cylinder is essentially the same basic motor design found in the turbo-four-powered Ford Mustang EcoBoost. Though despite being very similar, Ford Mustang owners haven’t experienced the same issues, given that the version in the Focus RS gets its own bespoke head gasket design and an upgraded cast-iron lining to compensate for the car’s increased output over the version found in the Mustang EcoBoost.

We reached out to Ford to see how progress is going with the fix and we will update this post if we receive a response.

Update: We received a response from one of Ford North America’s product communication managers, who confirms that engineers are working on a fix:

“Ford is aware that some 2016-17 Focus RS customers have experienced concerns with their engines, which may initially show white exhaust smoke and/or coolant consumption. We are working on a repair for all customers. In the meantime, if vehicles show these symptoms, customers should visit their dealer for an inspection and repair under warranty.”


Automakers are spending billions on self-driving technology people are afraid of

Automakers are spending billions of dollars on developing the technology that will power self-driving cars, but research shows consumers have no interest in giving up control. Will they ever recoup their investment?

Bentley’s 542-horsepower Continental GT V8 is the best kind of downsizing

The Bentley Continental GT V8 has fewer cylinders than its W12 sibling, but Bentley expects it to offer better gas mileage and more agile handling. The V8's top speed of 198 mph is also pretty darn fast.

Have an issue with your 3DS? We can help you fix it with these common solutions

The Nintendo 3DS has seen its fair share of issues since it launched in 2011, including poor battery life and fragile Circle Pads. Here are some of the most common, as well as the steps you can take to solve them.

The mid-engined Chevrolet Corvette is so powerful it mangles its own body

Chevrolet has major changes in store for the eighth-generation Corvette. The coupe will arrive in 2019 with a mid-mounted engine. We won't see it at the Detroit auto show, but spy shots and rumors give us a good idea of what to expect.

Sibling rivalry: The Tesla Model Y takes on the Tesla Model 3

Tesla expanded its lineup with a fourth car named Model Y. It's an electric crossover positioned as a more spacious alternative to the Model 3. The two cars share about 75 percent of their components, but they're aimed at different buyers.

Can electric cars be S3XY? Tesla says yes with the new Model Y crossover

Tesla introduced a crossover named Model Y at its design studio in Los Angeles. It's a more spacious alternative to the Model 3 it shares 75 percent of its parts with, and is a smaller sibling to the Model X.

Unrestrained by heritage, Polestar sets its sights on becoming a digital brand

With no heritage to worry about, Polestar is free to move full-speed ahead towards its goal of becoming a digital brand. All of the company's upcoming models will be electric, and they will inaugurate an Android-powered infotainment system.

Adventurous and electric, Porsche’s second station wagon will arrive in 2020

The Mission E Cross Turismo concept Porsche unveiled during the 2018 Geneva Auto Show will morph into a production model tentatively named Taycan Cross Turismo. This 600-horsepower electric station wagon will arrive in showrooms by 2021.

Mustang-like and electrified. What did Ford just show a preview of?

Ford posted an enigmatic picture of a blue Mustang emblem on a black background right as Tesla prepared to introduce the Model Y. Is the Blue Oval teasing a hybrid Mustang, or is it previewing a Mustang-inspired, battery-powered crossover?

Amazon and Kia team up to simplify EV home-charging station installs

Kia Motors announced a new program with Amazon for electric vehicles. Customers planning to purchase a new Kia EV or PHEV can check out recommended Level 2 240-volt home charging stations and arrange installation in their homes.

Audi’s traffic light information system shows the challenges facing V2X tech

Audi’s traffic light information system is among the first commercial applications of potentially game-changing V2X tech. So how does it work in the real world? We spent a few days getting stuck at red lights to find out.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Write music with your voice, make homemade cheese

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

Fisker plans sub-$40,000 electric SUV with 300 miles of range for 2021

Fisker Inc. plans to launch an electric SUV with a base price of under $40,000, and a range of around 300 miles in 2021. The unnamed vehicle could compete with the Tesla Model Y, if it ever gets into production.

Tesla gives us a cryptic look at its cyberpunk, Blade Runner-inspired pickup

Tesla has started designing its long-promised pickup truck. The yet-unnamed model will come with dual-motor all-wheel drive and lots of torque, plus it will be able to park itself. It could make its debut in 2019.