There’s a lot to say about the Ford Fiesta. This small but peppy car checks all the boxes when it comes to performance, comfort, and affordability. Ford no longer offers the Fiesta in the U.S. due to slow sales, but you can still find used models online for well under $10,000. Motor and Wheels estimates that Ford Fiestas can last up to 200,000 miles with proper maintenance and conscientious use. Most people don’t drive their cars past 150,000 miles anyway, so you’ll probably have a few thousand miles left on your used Ford Fiesta before it breaks down.
Is the Ford Fiesta Reliable?
RepairPal gave the Ford Fiesta a high reliability rating of 4.0 out of 5.0. This score is based on ownership costs and the repair frequency of brand-new models. However, the same standard can’t be applied to used Ford Fiestas. CarComplaints has received hundreds of complaints about used Ford Fiestas breaking down. If you’re planning to buy a used Ford Fiesta, you should familiarize yourself with its most common problems so that you can prepare for the worst.
Common Ford Fiesta Problems
Despite its reliable reputation, the Ford Fiesta has its share of problems. Here are some of the Fiesta’s most commonly reported issues:
Unresponsive Infotainment Systems
Ford replaced the traditional knobs and buttons on the Ford Fiesta’s dashboard with a touchscreen infotainment system called MyFord Touch. This new all-in-one system was unfortunately plagued with software glitches, prompting the motor city company to release memory sticks to 250,000 customers. In theory, the system would allow drivers to make phone calls, control climate, and open navigation tools using touch or voice commands. In reality, the system frequently crashed and didn’t respond consistently to user commands. Here are a few common complaints regarding Ford’s failed system:
- Screen goes black without warning
- System frequently freezes
- System cannot detect mobile phones
- Rearview camera turns off while backing up
All these complaints culminated in a class-action lawsuit filed by Ford owners in California. This lawsuit alleges MyFord Touch systems are safety hazards because they regularly fail, possibly causing problems with the defroster and backup camera. Ford eventually settled the lawsuit in court for an undisclosed sum.
This problem is quite common for the sixth-generation Ford Fiesta (2009 to 2020). You may need to get your infotainment system updated to the latest software if you’re bringing home a sixth-generation Ford Fiesta.
PowerShift Transmission Failure
Ford invented the dual-clutch PowerShift transmission for the Fiesta and Focus lines in 2010, which combined the fuel efficiency of a manual with the ease of an automatic. However, the PowerShift’s poor design ultimately led to Ford offering cash payments, reimbursements, and buyback options to 1.6 million Fiesta and Focus owners in 2017. A bad or failing PowerShift transmission will usually slip a gear when upshifting. The dual-clutch transmissions used by Audi, BMW, and Porsche have more hydraulic fluid, so there’s minimal friction when shifting gears. Ford went too far in the other direction by using dry clutches, which caused the transmission to lurch or shudder while driving. This problem affects sixth-generation Ford Fiestas from 2011 to 2016. In a published report by the Detroit Free Press, internal documents show that the carmaker knew about the PowerShift’s inherent design flaws but continued with production, urging dealers to “tell customers that the cars operated manually.”
The first wave of modifications to the PowerShift transmission came in 2012 after Ford’s review scores on J.D. Power and Consumer Reports went down. Ford extended its powertrain warranty on affected Fiesta models to seven years or 100,000 miles in 2014, but the damage was done. Multiple class-action lawsuits were filed against the American carmaker by owners with affected models. Those who are named in the class-action lawsuit will be awarded $200 to $2,375 as well as $400 to $4,650 in discounts for a new Ford. The settlement will pay $50 for each service visit and up to $600 for software updates only.
If you’re buying a sixth-generation Ford Fiesta, make sure to ask the seller about the car’s service history to rule out any latent transmission problems.
Car Door Flies Open While Driving
The mechanical device inside your car door’s handle is called a pawl. It’s responsible for keeping your car door shut. If the pawl wears out, your car door may unlatch while you’re driving. This problem is quite common for Ford Fiestas manufactured between 2011 to 2014. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) looked into complaints about car doors flying open in Ford Fiestas. The investigation revealed issues with the Fiesta’s pawl spring tabs, which didn’t allow the car doors to shut all the way. Ford issued a massive recall of 830,000 vehicles after the NHTSA put 400,000 Ford Focus cars under investigation.
The Fiesta’s door latch components are also prone to freezing in low temperatures. This allowed the car doors to open even if they appeared to be closed. The latch can also freeze in place and lock drivers inside the vehicle. While this is a common problem with Ford F-150 pickup trucks, it’s possible that some Ford Fiestas will also be affected.
Driving with an open car door can lead to accidents with nearby cars and pedestrians. Some states even have specific laws regarding open car doors in traffic. For example, California’s Vehicle Code 22517 states that “no person shall open the door of a vehicle on the side available to moving traffic.” If you want to avoid the potential fine, you’ll need to stay on top of your Ford Fiesta’s maintenance. Get your car door handles checked if they feel a little loose, and order your replacement parts from reputable sources.
Despite its flaws, the Ford Fiesta remains one of the best hot hatches of all time. You may not be able to find a brand-new model at the Ford dealership in the U.S., but there are hundreds of used models online for under $10,000. We hope this article helps you decide which Ford Fiesta model year and trim is right for you.