Advice on a car purchase
March 17, 2013 12:08 PM   Subscribe

Thinking of buying a 2013 Ford Focus Automatic. Big Manufacturer incentives right now. My one concern: lots of reports on car forums about transmission "shudder" that Ford appears to have blamed on programming alone for the last 2 years, but many owners say the reprogramming didn't solve things. I cant tell for sure that the most recent cars coming off the line are affected. Seems hard to get reliable information. Thoughts?
posted by dougiedd to Shopping (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Unless you really want a Ford, I would look also at the Chevy Sonic. I bought a Turbo version last year and have been very happy with it. The deals are going to be about the same.
posted by beagle at 12:16 PM on March 17, 2013

I have xplan pricing on the ford
posted by dougiedd at 12:23 PM on March 17, 2013

I have a Tacoma, and so I hang out on Toyota forums a lot. If you were to go by forum posts, the Tacoma is the worst truck ever built with people suffering from drive-line vibrations, throw out bearing failures and so on and on and on and on.

Fact is though, Toyota has sold more than a million of the current generation and the Tacoma is largely regarded as one of the best trucks available with a reputation for quality and durability.

Point is - you can't go entirely off forum postings. People whose cars perform as expected rarely post to internet forums and besides, any real trouble you have will be covered under the warranty. Granted, it's good to be informed, but at the same time, if this issue was that widespread, there would be recalls and lawsuits.

It is good to be informed, and you should definitely test drive any car you are going to buy. But don't read too much into internet reviews.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 2:18 PM on March 17, 2013

I'm with Pogo_Fuzzybutt. Nobody seeks out online car forums to report a lack of a problem with their vehicle. They sold like 250K of that nameplate last year. If there were rampant problems, you'd think it would create the kind of news story we saw with Toyota not too long ago (maybe not to the same extent, but something). This is what the test drive is for.
posted by axiom at 2:23 PM on March 17, 2013

The Focus nameplate actually sold close to a million units globally making it the number one or one of the top selling nameplates in the world.

I have a Titanium Focus I picked up new 3 months ago.

The main thing causing unhappiness with the handling is the new dual clutch transmission that was put in to save fuel. You'll either not notice it or think it's the most awful thing you've ever driven. It tries to mimic the feel and operation of a torque converter automatic, but it's not perfect, and I've had to adjust my pedal mechanics to compensate. Most people think it's fine. go test drive one. One feature I particularly appreciated is the torque vectoring, which improves traction during cornering, it's something the other competitors are missing.
posted by xdvesper at 7:25 PM on March 17, 2013

Looks like you need TrueDelta
posted by lalochezia at 7:54 PM on March 17, 2013

I think Ford makes great vehicles, but the sales stats are likely influenced in a large part by fleet sales. Just my 2 cents.

As others have mentioned, you need to test drive a car. I find it much easier (and less annoying) to rent the car for a few hours (car share, major rental co, zipcar, etc) and drive wide open on the highway and then stop & go city traffic. You'll be happy you did.

Also, consider a stick if that's an option for you.
posted by NYC-BB at 9:43 PM on March 17, 2013

Second TrueDelta, I've been contributing my familiy's cars inforamation to their reviews for several years and they are one of the most reliable sources of actual data about cars in use.
posted by ptm at 1:42 AM on March 18, 2013

I have a 2013 Focus, and it does sometime shudder, but it's not really a big deal. We took it back to the dealer almost immediately for reprograming, which improved things by about 80% - it still sometimes shudders, but much less. I've also slightly adapted my driving style. I will admit you may hate the transmission though, so you should definitely test drive. Look for the shudder when starting repeatedly and quickly from a complete stop. Generally speaking though, I find the Focus fun to drive and it has good handling. The transmission thing is primarily noticeable at low-speed stop and start driving.
posted by annie o at 11:29 AM on March 23, 2013

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