2018 Ford Focus Top Complaints and Problems – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Brake, fuel system, engine and powertrain issues among the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

The final year for the Ford Focus was 2018, maybe because of all the difficulties it faced. This popular Ford model was meant to appeal to a budget-conscious shopper, but it turned out to be a nightmare with all the necessary repairs. The 2018 Ford Focus receives multiple complaints with a defective engine, faulty powertrain as well as malfunctioning brakes and fuel systems.

Click on other model year to view more problems: 2017

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The car engine is the heart of a vehicle. When this doesn’t operate properly, everything seems to go wrong. Sadly, many 2018 Ford Focus owners experience trouble with their car motor.

Check out what this NHTSA user wrote, “From a complete stop (due to stopped traffic on the highway or while at a stoplight, acceleration causes the vehicle to hesitate, rapidly increase RM and shudder/shake violently. Happens roughly between 0-35 mph. The issue is becoming more frequent, so I’ll be taking the vehicle into the dealership. Mileage is just under 30k.”

Despite having more than 50 Service Bulletins recorded, Ford hasn’t addressed these concerns directly. There’s been no indication on how to troubleshoot the problem or fix it. If it had only been one person talking about this failure, it would be easy to overlook, but that’s not the situation. In fact, a quick search on the Internet shows this is a regular complaint from owners. Apparently, Ford felt they didn’t need to address it since the car was discontinued for the following model year. Instead, they chose to simply erase it.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2018 Ford Focus Engine Problems:

TL* The contact owns a 2018 ford focus. While driving approximately 35 mph, the vehicle stopped and shut off completely. There were no warning indicators illuminated. The vehicle was towed to Crown Ford. The vehicle was not repaired. The approximate failure mileage was 13,000.

When trying to accelerate after decreasing speed it shoots up in rpm and will barely move until I let go of gas and allow it some time. It’s as if I’m revving my engine with the brake applied. It’s slowly getting worse. I’m up to date on all my maintenance and the car is at approx. 17500 miles.

I bought the car brand new in August. I bought this vehicle in October of 2018. The transmission has started to fail, with shuddering, stalling and jumping at accelerations. This is the second focus model that I have had difficulties with.


We see a significant issue with the powertrain as well. This is another vital part of any vehicle.

One reviewer wrote on Edmunds, “The clutch assembly was recalled and fixed once then it went again after 6 months, the power train started to fail right outside of the 60,000 miles power train warranty the power train started to go before that but Ford never fixed it because it was all in my head. Then once the factory power train warranty ran out Ford service the head mechanic there told me that I should have known about the power train defects and purchased the extended power train warranty. Ford knows about the defects but won’t do anything about it… Don’t buy stay away like the plague and like your life depends upon it because it does.. If you smell burning rubber in your engine just remember you drove over a plastic bag and it got stuck in the muffler. It has nothing to do with a bad clutch assembly because we replaced the clutch assembly due to a recall but it has nothing to do with it being faulty. That’s everything that a Ford dealership told me.. Ford cars no longer last 250,000+ miles and they don’t stand behind their products anymore like they used to. Corporate greed. Don’t buy anything with Ford in its name Ever.”

It’s not difficult to tell how this driver feels about their 2018 Ford Focus. It’s a complete disappointment to them and the countless other owners. While not necessarily related to this instance, there was a recall for the powertrain labeled with NHTSA Campaign Number 18V845000. It stated that the clutch on the manual transmissions might fracture, resulting in damage to the transmission assembly and possibly a transmission fluid leak. At least they were willing to address some problems and not lead customers to believe it was “in their head” as they told the above reviewer. We know what wasn’t in their heads – the 2018 Ford Focus was poorly manufactured.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2018 Ford Focus Transmission Problems:

TL* The contact owns a 2018 ford focus. While driving approximately 68 mph, the transmission went into neutral when the accelerator pedal was depressed and there was no acceleration. There were no warning indicators illuminated. The contact coasted the vehicle to the side of the road, turned off the engine, waited a few minutes, and the vehicle started normally. When the accelerator pedal was depressed, the vehicle did not accelerate. After a few seconds, the vehicle surged forward. The vehicle was taken to Fowler Ford where it was diagnosed that both clutches needed to be replaced along with transmission seals that were installed incorrectly from the factory. The vehicle was currently at the dealer for the third time and was not repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The approximate failure mileage was 2,200.

Transmission would shudder and not engage 2nd gear. Acceleration world be bogged down making it hard to pass other vehicles or merge on the highway. Clutch pack replaced at 39,991 miles under powertrain warranty.

Car’s transmission shutters or jerks at various times like accelerating from a stopped position. Frightened and irritated.

Fuel System

We have dealt with the engine and powertrain, which are both primary components of the car, but so is the fuel system. Unfortunately, this seems to be another area that Ford failed.

This reviewer on the NHTSA website said, “Vehicle is stalling and check engine light is on. Sometimes when I hit gas pedal, it does not want to go. There was a previous recall for this but it didn’t include my vehicle. When it stalls was when I sit at a red light.”

Again, we see a recall for fuel issues. Labeled NHTSA Campaign Number 18V735000, the problem stems from a stuck canister purge valve, which might lead to the engine stalling. It also creates a situation where the driver may not be able to restart the vehicle. Between the engine, transmission and fuel concerns, this car should be painted yellow because it is clearly a lemon.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2018 Ford Focus Fuel System Problems:

The vehicle fails to achieve more than 25 mpg on a full 12 gallon fuel tank with 100% gasoline. There is a gasoline odor at times when the vehicle is shut off after being driven for multiple hours. The vehicle is equipped with a 1 liter Ecoboost motor that was purchased new with 3k miles on it. The current odometer reading is 12,600. On October 21st, 2018 Iachieved 19 mpg on a full tank of gasoline.


While all of the issues up until now have dealt with moving the car, this next concern relates to stopping it. The brakes are an essential safety feature that must work properly. Yet, many owners complain otherwise.

Here’s one report from the NHTSA. “The contact rented a 2018 Ford Focus from Enterprise Rent-A-Car. While driving approximately 15 mph, the contact’s vehicle lost braking ability and struck another vehicle on the side of the road. The contact stated that the brake pedal traveled to the floorboard. A police report was not filed and there were no injuries. The vehicle was towed back to Enterprise Rent-A-Car and not diagnosed.”

While it would have been commonplace for the company to ignore this, they did provide one Service Bulletin related to the brakes. In SSM 47688, they discuss how some models have a momentary soft or long brake pedal. They claim it only occurs while driving in cold, wet and damp conditions or after being on the road for an extended time. The recommended fix is to update the ABS module with the latest software. It sounds like Ford is making stuff up once again and not really fixing the problem. Or, drivers can just avoid going out in the cold, wet or damp weather. The company wants you to have options.

Here are some actual complaints logged with the NHTSA about the 2018 Ford Focus Brake Problems:

2018 Ford Focus. Consumer writes in regards to vehicles braking system. The consumer stated the vehicle needed a major braking system replacement. The dealer was notified and stated the failure was due to the owner residing near an ocean. The consumer owned multiple vehicle’s in the same environment that did not experience a similar.

Hit someone due to no brakes. Then later when trying to still hear air in brakes was going 10 mph

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Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 20 years working as an ASE Certified Master Tech and Parts Specialist at multiple dealerships. Brian has become an authority in the industry, traveling across the country to consult for car dealerships and contributing his expertise as a writer for several major automotive publications. In his spare time, Brian enjoys working on pickup trucks, muscle cars, Jeeps and anything related to motorsports.

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  • Shawnette C

    Purchased a lemon car need help returning and receiving my money back….Car has been in shop several times since I had it only three weeks….I purchased from Carvana

  • Tim S

    Iam losing my job because of no transportation My 2018Ford focus has been down for over 4 months due to powertrain
    I had to file a claim to safety division of highway out DC.I feared for my safety due crossing the road and the car wouldn’t move. I need transportation like now

  • Ruth S

    My 2018 is having problems with the transmission. I have had the service done regularly and the manual says to not do a transmission flush until 150,000 miles I have had this problem since it was about 20,000 miles it is now has 63,000 miles I am having a transmission flushed next oil change. Most of the miles are highway miles

  • Karen M

    Bought my 2018 Ford Focus used 12/2020 with 30000 miles. Has been in the shop at least 4 times with Emission problems. I have extended warranty up to 75000 miles. This its ridiculous. I like my cars just don’t like being without it.

  • Hannah

    At approximately 56,000 miles my husband and I were driving down the road in the Arizona desert and my oil light came on then my check engine light. We drove the car to the nearest gas station about 5-10 miles out because we had no service and was in the Arizona desert. We were stranded for 2 hours before my insurance sent us a tow. The closet town we could get towed to was Farmington New Mexico. The mechanic looked at it the following Monday as this had to of happened on a Saturday (mind you were 980 miles away from home) come to find out my oil pump belt went bad, which caused the timing belt to go bad, and in turn also caused the oil pump itself to fail. We have been stuck for a week now. $1500 in repair cost and I’m to scared to even drive the dang thing back home now.

  • Latoya D

    I posted earlier about possible oil pump failure. The dealership finally looked at our 2018 Ford Focus and stated that the engine failed.

  • Latoya D

    We’re at 68,800 miles. We bought the car brand new. We have the hesitation after stops and now we believe the oil pump has gone and has taken the engine with it. The car had regular oil changes. We’re out of warranty and we’re waiting for an appointment in July, but from what I’ve read these repairs can be thousands upon thousands of dollars. The oil pump should not have failed!

  • Cis W

    Daughters 2018 Focus a lemon?
    Bought new and at 54,000 miles check engine light came on went into limp mode. Dealership replaced the engine. Get it back and a month later same symptoms. Diagnostics said valve 3 missing. They replace coil. Got it back , next day check engine light on again. Call dealership. Now over 60,000 miles and must pay 100 for deductible. They replace fuel pump. Same night after picking it up, on my way to work and check engine light on again. Call dealership and is to return for repair again wit another deductible I am sure. When speaking to dealership they recommend I trade in on new vehicle this is apparently not a vehicle for her but no doubt after trade will leave her with a balance to be tacked on to new vehicle loan. Is there any legal relief for this or is she just screwed.

  • Lori

    I just had the engine replaced. Cylinders were misfiring. Only 20k miles. It was covered under warranty but the shuttering is coming back and now it smells like the engine is burning.

  • Ed

    My 2018 Ford Focus has had a shuttering problem since the day I got it. I talked to the service manager about and he said there was nothing they can do about it. I had a 2013 Focus ,and had nothing but problems with it. I am a veteran and my credit is bad, I feel as if Autofair Ford in Manchester, NH is targeting me because of my credit seeing this is the 2nd car I’ve had these issues with.

  • Chad

    I have a 2018 for focus i had the engine supposedly replaced by for dealership it lasted 5 hours took 1 month then i took it back they fixed again and it lasted 1 mile its back in the shopfor the 3rd time for the same issue i have completete covererage above the manufacturer warenty for 75000 they cant seem to tell me the truth they damaged my car when they had it and tried to blame me for it then blames the tow company. The car is missing parts the ford dealership is blaming me but i had to bring it to their attention the 3rd time i was there but they say the skid plate was never on the car when i brought it. Why then didnt they tell me after having the car a month? Its all lies from them at the for dealership help me im a little guy in a big boy game here i need help

  • Nichelle G

    My car may be a lemon.
    Already got transmission replaced , had to take it back, they told me to give it time and bring it back
    Now my car wont start every now and then , battery is drained , now its increasing rpms at a low mileage and sounds like its revving , car shut off on highway
    Still under warranty, 21,000 miles currently

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