Since 1903, Ford has been known for its affordability and attainability — the Model A and Model T were America’s idea of the “Volkswagen” (German for ‘People’s Car’) before it was cool. And to build a capable daily driver, Ford obviously had to put reliability first.
But are Ford cars that reliable nowadays? Although the answer may vary depending on which Ford owner you ask, the American carmaker generally makes some pretty rugged and reliable vehicles. Sure, issues may come up occasionally, especially after a long ownership period. However, that’s usually something you can easily fix with a good Ford workshop manual and a couple of new parts that won’t break the bank (generally).
Nonetheless, if you’re curious about just how reliable Ford is, and want to learn about Ford’s most common problems, then keep reading!
I hope you’ll find this insightful!
Is Ford a Reliable Brand?
Put simply, while they may not be the most reliable nor the cheapest to maintain, Ford vehicles are still decently durable these days. Let’s just say that you can surely do worse than going with the Blue Oval.
Statistically speaking, Ford cars aren’t susceptible to unexpected repairs, averaging less than one surprising issue every three years, according to RepairPal. Also, most problems encountered in a Ford are usually not that severe, meaning you can easily overcome them with proper maintenance.
However, watch out for maintenance expenses; Ford owners spend around $775 per year, which is slightly higher than the industry average of $652 (again, according to RepairPal). On the other hand, it’s important to mention that those numbers are still somewhat similar to Dodge and Chevy, despite Ford being a bit costlier than the other two.
Nonetheless, keep in mind that this is only an average across each manufacturer’s lineup. Some Fords fair much better than others, including the F-150s and Mustangs, which are fairly indestructible. In contrast, others were born with problems that the manufacturer had to recall and many frequent issues. But at least, Ford delivers rapid responses to these complaints, showing that it actually cares for its consumers (more on this in the next section).
Still, as a general rule, no car will be reliable without proper care and maintenance. Indeed, no matter the brand you choose to go for, the best way to keep it as reliable as possible will be to maintain your vehicle on your own and save yourself from paying those massive repair shop bills. So, I encourage you to invest in some garage tools and equip yourself with some Ford repair information online, as simple DIY fixes are very easy to find.
For instance, eManualOnline carries repair manuals covering pretty much any brand or model out there, providing you with everything you might need to service and fix your car.
Ford Common Problems
Although it might be sad to see Ford discontinue its passenger cars lineup in North America, it happened for a reason — a clear lack of consumer demand and interest, and there’s not much the carmaker could have done about that. Nonetheless, Ford still offers a wide range of vehicles, from performance-focused models to more practical and utilitarian ones.
And while some have had more issues than others, history tells us there are a few problems that seem to be shared among a few Fords. Let’s have a look.
Transmission Jerking and Failure
Ford’s transmission is often bound to a faulty operation on several models, especially its dual-clutch PowerShift automatic transmission, widespread among the Focus (2008-2019), Fiesta (2010-2017), EcoSport (2013-2017), and more.
The problem was that its dry clutches were initially designed to be paired with manual transmissions instead. Hence, they don’t provide the smooth operation expected from automatics. Furthermore, unlike wet clutches with better heat dissipation, dry clutches tend to have a lower tolerance toward slippage due to the lack of heat transfer.
As a result, Ford was flooded with complaints and lawsuits regarding transmission slipping, jerking from a stop, or even failing entirely. The carmaker then resolved the problem by extending warranties and fixing the transmission for the following models.
Power Steering Failure
Ford models of the early-to-mid-2010s like the Focus, Fusion, Escape, and Explorer faced problems regarding a sudden power steering loss. The leading causes were faulty sensors and defective electrical connections within the steering column, disabling the power steering assist feature while driving.
Of course, this issue understandably made the vehicle quite unpleasant to drive and hard to handle, especially for drivers with disabilities relying on this feature. Thankfully, Ford did the right thing in the end and recalled affected models and fixed the problem.
Speaking of issues, a bunch of them were directly related to the engine on several models. But before I get into that, keep in mind that encountering engine issues is nothing out of the ordinary, no matter the brand. Hence I recommend grabbing one of those Ford auto repair manuals to learn about your engine and how to replace some common parts. If you aren’t sure where to find one for your car, have a look at eManualOnline — you’ll thank me later.
Ford engine issues are reported by several 2012-2018 Focus owners regarding RPM jumps after putting the car in park and engines failing to restart after a stall. Other issues are also reported by third-generation Ford Escape owners who experienced misfires due to inadequate cooling systems, which were eventually solved by a series of recalls.
Moreover, several owners of the 2021 Ford Bronco have already reported engine failures to the NHTSA after only around 3000-5000 miles. The problem occurs in the off-roader’s 2.7-liter Ecoboost V6, with defective valves suspected as possible culprits. However, Ford promises that the problem will be entirely covered by its warranty.
While talking only about the bad stuff might make it a bit scary to own a Ford, let’s not forget that the brand also makes some of the toughest and most capable heavy-duty vehicles on the planet. I mean, there’s a reason why the Ford F-150 has been the bestselling vehicle (yes, not just truck, all vehicles included!) in the US for over 40 years.
Not to mention that the Mustang won JD Power‘s best mid-size sports car awards multiple times in the performance, quality, and dependability category. And there are still a bunch of satisfied Ranger, Explorer, Expedition, and other F-series truck owners spread across the country.
Thus, the answer to the question “are Ford cars reliable?” really depends on many things. Moreover, you can also easily increase the reliability of your Ford by simply picking up your Ford shop service manual and conducting proper maintenance on your beloved vehicle. After all, no matter the model you own, the best way to keep it reliable and in proper working order is always to stay on top of its maintenance schedule.