2018 Ford Focus Transmission Problems: Is It Such A Shell Of A Car?

by Conner Mckay

The Ford Focus remains a darling among those interested in having a taste and a feel of a sporty car. Three principal features that are the major attraction towards the Ford Focus are; ease of driving, budget-friendly cost, and other practical benefits. Despite this popularity, the 2018 Ford Focus transmission problems aren’t anything uncommon with that year model.

Apart from that, other Ford Focus lineup of vehicles of this era have not been without their mechanical issues. But among them, all is the common 2018 model year transmission problems that range from shifting to tremors that negatively influence your driving experience.

Contents of this article entail;

Functions Of Ford Focus Transmission

The transmission of a car helps to carry power from the engine to the wheel. This helps to drive at the desired speed. Since the transmission plays an essential role in converting the correct amount of power into the right amount of speed, a small transmission malfunction can jeopardize your Ford Focus transmission performance.

Transmission problems are often not easily identifiable at their initial stages. They can easily be ignored if keen attention isn’t taken to notice them early enough. The 2018 Ford Focus transmission problems emerge in several ways that include;

Failure to notice early signals of Ford Focus transmission troubles could negatively affect your fuel economy or lead to total engine and transmission breakdown.

2018 Ford Focus Transmission Types

The 2018 Ford Focus comes with three types of transmissions.

2018 Ford Focus Transmission Problems

2018 Ford Focus transmission problems can unfold in several symptoms. Such symptoms include;

#1. Fluid Leaks

Transmission leaks are probably among the most common transmission problems likely to bring some devastating internal transmission issues.

Most transmission leaks occur because of a leaking pan gasket, axle or driveshaft seal, or a transmission cooling line which then leads to low fluid, burned fluid, overheating, and damage that cannot be repaired by just adding fluid.

If you spot a leak in your transmission, look to see if you can spot where it is coming from. Repairing a cooling line or a pan gasket can be a quick, somewhat inexpensive solution.

An axle seal, output shaft seal, or converter seal is a bit more work and labor, but if you catch the leak soon enough before internal damage can occur, you probably saved yourself a bunch of money for a replacement or rebuilt transmission.

#2. Check Engine Lights On

Check engine light can mean many issues are happening depending on your vehicle’s make and model. When you get a check engine light, even though it’s called a check “engine” light, it doesn’t point directly to your engine.

It could be your transmission, brake system, air conditioning, or any system on the vehicle, so you must have the codes retrieved from the vehicle’s computers to allow for a pinpoint diagnostic of the system and problem.

If the light is flashing, that could mean a severe problem that is causing other damage to the engine and or transmission, so do not delay.

#3. Slipping Gear

You have slipping gears if it seems like the engine is revving higher than it should when driving down the road and you lack power. There are other warning signs worth looking out for as well:

  • The transmission has a hard time shifting into the next gears
  • Weird sliding sounds between gears
  • High RPM
  • A burned look and smell to the fluid
  • Low fluid levels
  • A check engine light

These symptoms sometimes come before or after your transmission slips. These issues can occur when you haven’t replaced your fluid at the correct intervals, you have an ill-running engine or the clutches are worn.

You can prevent a slipping transmission by maintaining your fluid levels regularly and making certain you do not have any leaks. Burned and low fluid can be easy fixes. Replacing clutches, bands and other internal parts requires a professional technician.

2018 Ford Focus Transmission Problems

If you plan on fixing slipping gears yourself, make sure your issues fall into the categories listed above before targeting your transmission. You can create issues on transmission by “fixing” the wrong parts.

#4. No Shifting At All

Transmission bands wrap around the parts of the internal transmission parts to allow upshifting and downshifting. Friction clutch and 1-way mechanical clutches do as well. Inside the transmission, you also have pistons, solenoids, valves servos, and a fluid pump that provides and controls pressure.

In addition, the computer takes information from all systems of the vehicle to determine when to shift and how hard. If these parts or systems cannot operate correctly, you’ll find your car unable to shift correctly or shift at all.

Even though it may feel like a transmission problem, it could be caused by another system on your car or truck. Have a professional check it out for you.

#5. Smell Like Burning Oil

In most cases, a burning smell comes from the very hot or leaking transmission fluid. Preventing this requires checking your fluid levels regularly to look for indications of a leak. Low fluid levels often cause major problems if you don’t catch them quickly.

#6. Failing Torque Converter

A torque converter is a device that transfers torque from the engine to the transmission and onto the drive wheels of the vehicle. It is an important part of the transmission and also drives the fluid pump to make the transmission work.

When the torque converter goes bad, it will cause overheating of the transmission, juddering, and shuddering feelings and will even not allow the transmission to go into high gears.

If you experience slipping, overheating, and shuddering or the check engine light is on, this just might be part of the problem. Most transmission problems involve overlapping symptoms, so be sure to check out the complete system before jumping to conclusions and blaming your torque converter. It could be something else less costly that controls the torque converter instead.

#7. Solenoid Failures

Solenoids are a major component that controls upshifting and downshifting while you drive. Solenoids wear can cause damage to your transmission, shifting problems, pressure problems, and diagnostic codes in your computer.

The symptoms for a damaged solenoid are:

  • Strange shifting patterns
  • Won’t go into gear
  • Inability to upshift or downshift
  • Shifting delays
  • Slipping or flaring shifts

Your car’s computer signals your solenoids that it receives from other parts of your car, telling it how much pressure it needs, when to shift, how fast to shift, and when not to shift, amongst other things.

Some solenoids move 100s of times if not 1000s of times a second, so you can imagine the wear that can occur and why maintenance with good clean fluid is so important.

Fixing this issue can sometimes simply require replacing the solenoid that has become defective.

#8. Shaking And Grinding

Science tells us odd sounds and vibrations point towards deep lying issues with friction between surfaces. Your transmission is no different.

Since your computer tells your transmission when to shift, and your transmission automatically does the work of shifting, shaking or grinding is a prominent sign that your transmission needs attention.

Most times, shaking and grinding result from damage to the planetary gear system, a bearing issue, or sometimes it is outside of the transmission in u joints, half shafts, or even engine.

Besides automatics, many manual transmissions suffer from grinding gear shifts too. You may treat this differently with a manual as opposed to an automatic, as it could be just a clutch or a slave cylinder. See a trusted technician to have it looked at as soon as you notice these signs to avoid more serious damage.

#9. Delays In Shifting

You can spot delays in shifting easily. If you notice a large delay in going into gear or between shifting gears where your engine is revving high before it shifts, it may point to several problems with your transmission:

  • Transmission solenoid problems
  • Engine problems
  • Low or dirty fluid
  • A Clogged transmission filters
  • Issues with clutch or converter
  • Transmission cooler issues

You can test delay patterns in shifting on your own. Simply observe the time between shifts.

#10. Shuddering

A shuddering transmission usually stems from issues with lack of holding by the clutches or bands due to wear or pressure issues.

This could be caused by many things, including dirty or low fluid, improper signals from the computer, an ill-running engine, worn or damaged clutches, valve body issues, and more.

Have a trusted technician look at any codes the vehicle may have and look at all the associated systems that could cause this.

#11. Clutch Pedal Free Play

For car owners with a manual transmission, a clutch that won’t disengage makes it impossible for a driver to shift gears without hearing a horrible grinding sound, and sometimes, they can’t shift at all.

You’ll notice the above symptoms right away but may not know the underlying issue. For a clutch to disengage the clutch disc from the flywheel, the pressure plate that clamps the clutch disc to the flywheel needs the hydraulic slave cylinder to work properly to release the pressure.

A dragging clutch occurs from that clutch slave cylinder or clutch master cylinder, failing to provide the force needed to release that pressure due to wear, leakage, or air in the system.

You’ll need to adjust the clutch if possible or replace the slave and master cylinder to solve this problem. Go to a technician you trust, describe the issue, and have them take care of it using quality parts.

#12. Noise On Neutral

This one is easy to spot. If there is an odd sound emitted from your transmission only while you’re in neutral and not moving, that is a clear sign that your transmission or your engine could be the culprit. The common issues include:

  • Worn bearings
  • Loose internal parts
  • Loose exhaust system
  • An engine problem

A thorough inspection of the systems on your vehicle can isolate where the noise is coming from and point to where you should do a more in-depth inspection.

Diagnosing 2018 Ford Focus Transmission Problems

Diagnosing 2018 Ford Focus transmission problems can be as easy as changing or flushing the transmission fluid. But in case the problems are ignored and become severe, they can lead to total transmission replacement.

#1. Fluid Flush

A transmission flush is common twice the price of a fluid change because of the time the service takes and the fact that the flush not only replaces the fluid in the pan but also removes fluid from the cooler lines and backup parts of your transmission. A 2018 Ford Focus transmission flush also uses about 10 quarts of fluid to altogether clean and flush out the system.

#2. Fluid Change

A transmission fluid change is usually half the price of a transmission flush, as it requires a lot less fluid and time to perform. 2018 Ford Focus transmission fluid changes are extraordinarily necessary to keep your vehicle’s transmission lubricated.

If you don’t routinely change your fluids at least every 30,000 miles, you may find that your 2018 Ford Focus transmission will slip. Check your car’s owner’s manual for more information on the specific mileage intervals in which your transmission needs the fluid replaced.

#3. When To Fluid Flush Or Fluid Change

A transmission flush is only basic if your system contains dirt or debris. If the fluid is extremely dark or contains backup sediments, we would advocate a complete system flush instead of just exchanging the fluid.

#4. Transmission Filter Change

Changing your 2018 Ford Focus transmission filter isn’t as cordial as discrete filters in your car. There are multiple components to your transmission filter, including the filter itself, which is usually a metal plate with a fiber material that catches pollutants.

Your 2018 Ford Focus will also contain a pickup tube, gasket, and rubber seal, which may all need to be replaced along with the filter.

Your 2018 Ford Focus transmission filter will need to be replaced every 30,000 or 50,000 miles. Be sure to check your vehicle’s maintenance guide for more information on mileage and time intervals.

#5. Automatic And Manual Transmission Care

The automatic and manual transmission will commonly require explicit fluids. Automatic transmission fluids are typically thinner and are commonly red or green.

Manual transmission fluid or gear oil is thicker because of additives and different compounds basic to lubricate the gearbox and different parts. Manual transmissions have a higher friction environment because of the way gears are changed. Thus, the lubricant is explicit.

Not only are the fluids contrasting between manual and automatic transmissions, but the level of heat the fluids experience is very contrasting. Automatic transmissions generate a lot more heat and thus the fluid in your transmission must be interchanged more usually.

If you don’t change your 2018 Ford Focus transmission fluid, your transmission will have broken metal shavings and substitute corrosive material spread throughout the decisive parts of your 2018 Ford Focus.

You should usually check the fluid levels between your fluid and transmission flush service intervals. In several cases, manual transmissions don’t come equipped with a dipstick to check your fluid levels, so it can be extremely hard to do.

#6. Faulty Transmission Repair Or Replacement

2018 Ford Focus transmission replacement is a much simpler option, however, it can be more costly in the short-lived term. Price shouldn’t be your only concern when looking for a transmission replacement, especially in a 2018 Ford Focus.

Having the newest and most applicable parts assembled by a factory-trained master technician can save you a big sum of money in the long run. The option that’s best for you is exactly your decision.

The rate of a new 2018 Ford Focus transmission could be over $3,500 depending on the vehicle. However, transmission services such as fluid changes and a transmission fluid flush are considerably less expensive, sometimes costing less than $150. These services are hard to prolong the life of your 2018 Ford Focus transmission.

2018 Ford Focus Transmission Repair Cost

The average transmission diagnosis ranges from $88 to $111. Repair costs for the Ford Focus differ depending on the diagnosis and type of repair needed.

If you just need to replace leaking clutch seals, it’ll set you back about $500, while a full clutch replacement will cost closer to $1000 to $1200.

2018 Ford Focus Transmission Problems

If the problem is with the transmission and not the clutch, the average range of transmission repair costs for a Ford Focus is between $1,871 and $2,503, while a new transmission can cost $3,500.

Check for recalls before paying for anything yourself – some 2018 Focuses can be taken to the dealership for free repairs.

Recommendations For 2018 Ford Focus Transmission

To minimize mechanical failures associated with the 2018 year model, Ford has come up with three recommendations, they include;

  • Having a routine inspection for wear and tear by an automobile service dealer who follows Ford’s service guidelines.
  • Exchange of transmission and differential fluids at given intervals.
  • Using Ford Focus approved transmission and differential fluids.

Is 2018 Ford Focus Reliable?

Based on the long-time assessment, the answer to this question is a definite yes. The 2018 Ford Focus is a very reliable model of car. Overall they perform above average in reliability compared to other sedans in their class.

However, no good lacks some minor faults. The 2018 Ford Focus is prone to transmission problems. The most commonly reported complaint with this model of Ford Focus includes improper or difficult shifting that happens at low mileage of 6,400 miles.

This was mainly caused by leaking clutch seal which may require full clutch replacement if the issue isn’t arrested early enough. So it is important having a check these problems before purchasing a 2018 Ford Focus.

Recalls On 2018 Ford Focus Transmission

The Ford Motor Company recalled specific models of 2016 to 2018 that had severe complaints associated with transmission failure.

Such vehicles included those that had a 1.0L Fox GTDI engine and those that had a 5-speed manual transmission.

Some of the transmission issues noted from the complaints included;

  • Clutch breaks could damage transmission components.
  • Transmission fluid leaks were also a common occurrence with these models.

Why Ford Stopped Making The Ford Focus

Ford suspended its manufacturing of all passenger cars and turned its attention on manufacturing SUVs and trucks. That’s in the USA, at least.

This seems to be a trend that is of late taking shape in the automobile industry where most automakers are shifting their production preferences to SUVs and trucks.

Reasons given by Ford Motor Company CEO Jim Hackett to support their suspension was that the Ford Focus had not met their expectations on it becoming a money-making vehicle. He also added that they intended to make quality utility vehicles.

Reports show Ford intends to change their inventory and get rid of all cars except the Mustang, and work on a Focus variant. It is the 2020 Ford Focus Active, which is based on the Focus hatchback.

According to CarsDirect.com, “Under the hood, we are likely to see at least two engine choices, including a 1.0-liter turbocharged three-cylinder and a 1.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine.

Ford has also shown a 2.0-liter turbocharged diesel four-cylinder engine, but we’re uncertain that it will make it to the US.”

Avoiding Buying Used 2018 Ford Focus With Transmission Problems

There are several ways to test for issues with a transmission before purchasing a used vehicle.

Since most transmission issues can only be detected while the vehicle is moving and shifting gears, it’s important to set up a test drive before buying any used vehicle that might be prone to transmission issues.

During the test drive, pay close attention as the vehicle moves through gears during acceleration and slowing down.

If you feel lurching, surging, or stuttering while driving, it’s best to have it checked by a mechanic.

Another common way to tell if the transmission is having issues is if it “slips” during acceleration.

During your test drive, hop on a freeway or highway where you can speed up more aggressively than in town.

However, your best way to avoid issues with a transmission on a 2018 Ford Focus is always to get it inspected by an independent, local mechanic before purchasing.

These inspections are comprehensive and can unearth other potential issues with the vehicle that you may not catch during a test drive.

Common Transmission Problems in the 2018 Ford Focus

  • The 2018 Ford Focus is a sporty compact car that is budget-friendly and easy to drive.
  • The 2018 Ford Focus is slightly prone to transmission problems, which is a common issue for many Ford products of the era.
  • The most common transmission problems reported by 2018 Ford Focus owners are improper/difficult shifting and tremors that affect the way the car drives and may leave drivers stranded on the side of the road.
  • The most common cause for these issues is a leaking clutch seal, which may require a full clutch replacement if not caught soon enough.
  • The average transmission diagnosis ranges between $88-$111, and repair costs differ depending on the diagnosis and type of repair needed.
  • The cost to fix transmission problems in the 2018 Ford Focus ranges between $500 and $2,503, depending on the severity of the issue.
  • It’s important to test drive a used 2018 Ford Focus prior to purchasing to check for transmission issues, such as lurching, surging, or slipping during acceleration.
  • It’s also recommended to have the vehicle inspected by an independent, local mechanic before purchasing to identify potential issues that may not be detected during a test drive.
  • While the 2018 Ford Focus is above average in reliability compared to other sedans in its class, it’s slightly prone to transmission problems, which is something to keep in mind when considering a purchase.
  • It’s also important to check for recalls before paying for any repairs yourself, as some 2018 Focuses may be eligible for free repairs at the dealership.


2018 Ford Focus transmission problems start small. Ignoring the signals like the symptoms listed above usually leads to super-costly repairs. Some repairs are small and affordable and they can prevent a huge bill later on.

If peace of mind and your money is important to you and you experience any of these automatic transmission problems, it’s advisable to have your car checked by a professional mechanic.

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