2016 Ford Focus RS at Gingerman Raceway, October 2016
Ford Focus RS owners can let out a collective sigh of relief. The company has announced a fix for the car's failing head gasket woes. Some owners may be in for new cylinder heads, depending on the severity of their problem.
Ford had acknowledged an engine issue in its hottest hatch in recent weeks, but did not name a specific cause. Now, the automaker points to the head gasket specifically as the culprit. Over multiple heat cycles, the head gasket can fail to seal the engine head and block, and the block itself can change shape over time. Coolant leaks and the engine misfires. Telltale white smoke bleeds from the exhaust on start-up until the car reaches its optimal running temperature. Ford has already replaced entire engines over the issue in the past.
An official Ford spokesperson told Motor Authority, "Owners of 2016-17 Focus RS vehicles are being offered a free inspection and repair, regardless of warranty or mileage status, for concerns of white exhaust smoke and/or coolant consumption stemming from an issue with cylinder head gaskets. Ford dealers will test the cooling system, replace the cylinder head gasket and may replace the cylinder head, as required, at no cost to the customer."
Depending on the severity of the issue, on a car-by-car basis, some owners will receive new cylinder heads. If the cooling system's pressure drops more than 4 psi over five hours and coolant is present in the cylinders, the Focus RS will be in for a new head altogether. Otherwise the car will simply receive a new head gasket.
The official technical service bulletin notes all owners have until January 31, 2019, to bring their Focus RS for the free inspection and no-cost repairs. The repairs should take less than two days, and Ford will also provide rental vehicles while technicians remedy the coolant-consumption issues.