Home Transmission & Drivetrain 2012 Ford Focus Transmission Recall – PowerShift Problems

2012 Ford Focus Transmission Recall – PowerShift Problems

by Kelvin Yates

For decades, the Ford Focus has been one of the best-selling vehicles in the world. People love it for several reasons – including the affordable cost, fun handling, reliability as well as fuel economy. However, some model years of the Focus have given users more trouble than others. The 2012 model year is one such example. Today, we’ll be taking a look at one such issue, which is the 2012 Ford Focus transmission recall.

If you were planning to purchase a Ford Focus from 2012, this article will surely be valuable to you. You see, it is important to have good knowledge about past recalls of your vehicle, as it allows you to identify potential issues before they get out of hand.

Not only that but choosing a vehicle that has had these recalls done will save you some money as well. As a starting point, we’ll take you on a journey through the history of the legendary Ford Focus. Are you excited? So are we!

Ford Focus

As of 2023, there have been four generations of the Ford Focus spanning two decades of production. All these generations kept bringing changes that would go on to revolutionize and shape the car industry for years to come. Let’s make our way through each of these Ford Focus generations and see what they had to offer.

1. First Generation

Ford revealed the much-awaited Focus to the car-loving public at the 1998 Geneva motor show. It was designed to replace the Ford Escort as the company’s compact car offering. In order to achieve this astronomical task, Ford released several body styles of the Focus, which even included a station wagon.

When compared to the Escort, the Ford Focus took a completely different approach in terms of styling. The Escort had boxy lines throughout the exterior, which aided it to become the company’s best-selling model at that time. In contrast, the Ford Focus took a more futuristic approach, incorporating curvy lines from front to back.

The curvy design approach carried over to the interior as well. Similarly, the interior had more room when compared to its competitors as well. Ford outfitted the Focus with a multi-link fully independent rear suspension, making it one of the best-handling family cars at that time.

The gamble Ford took with the Focus paid off, as the car was named the 1999 European Car of the Year. Not only that, but it became the best-selling car in Britain in that same year too. There were even several high-performance versions of the first-generation Focus as well.

These included the ST170 as well as the rally-inspired Ford Focus RS.

2. Second Generation

Ford followed up the successful MK1 Ford Focus with an all-new second-generation model in 2005. Similar to its predecessor, this model also made its debut at a major motor show, albeit this time in Paris.

Ford paid major attention to the safety aspect of the MK2 Ford Focus. This allowed it to achieve best-in-class Euro NCAP ratings across a variety of tests. Although it looked similar to the first generation at first glance, there were several touches that brought it up to date with the competition at the time.

Physically, the MK2 Focus was bigger than its predecessor. The quality, as well as the layout of the interior, was also improved, making it appealing to more families. Some appealing features of this car included adaptive headlights, a solar reflective windshield, and Bluetooth connectivity.

Reliable reliability problems gearbox

Furthermore, a large cargo area at the back made the second-generation Focus one of the most practical family cars on the road at the time.

2005 saw the introduction of the 225-horsepower Ford Focus ST. It was powered by a 2.5-liter engine with a unique five-cylinder configuration. Speaking of the RS, the second generation of this high-performance Ford would not arrive until 2009.

On top of increasing the five-cylinder engine’s power output to 305 horsepower, the RS also came with a mechanical self-locking differential. The MK2 Focus was restyled for 2007 and was released for North American customers the following year.

However, only the four-door sedan and two-door coupe made it to US shores. 2008 also saw the first appearance of the Ford Sync infotainment system. The Focus RS500 was the last second-generation Focus to be produced. This model was limited to just 500 units and came with a mean matte-black exterior.

3. Third Generation

When discussing the 2012 Ford Focus transmission recall, the third-generation model deserves some special attention. This is due to the fact that the 2012 Ford Focus belongs to this specific generation, which was refined further with the 2013 Ford Focus.

One of the main innovations of the MK3 Ford Focus lay under the engine bay. This was one of the first Ford models to come with the new and innovative EcoBoost line of engines. These tiny 1.0-liter engines were highly fuel efficient, getting close to 50 MPG on a combined cycle.

There was ample power too, as these engines were capable of producing anywhere from 98 to 123 horsepower. Nonetheless, the third-gen Focus was not limited to the EcoBoost either. There were other engines to choose from as well, including a 1.6-liter TDCi model which was capable of getting an astonishing 83 MPG.

2012 ford focus transmission recall

The new Focus ST was released alongside the third-generation model. Now, it was more powerful than ever, outputting 252 horsepower from its 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine. The new Focus RS arrived in 2015 (the Ford Focus then also had transmission woes), equipped with all-wheel drive for the first time in history.

Sadly, the iconic five-cylinder engine was gone. In its place was a 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine, which still made a respectable 350 horsepower. Although the regular third-generation Focus was a massive sales success, the same could not be said about its electric-powered counterpart.

Just 61 units of the all-electric Ford Focus were sold in Europe. This proved that the world was not ready for an electric-powered family car just yet. The styling of the Focus received a redesign in 2014 (granted, the 2014 Ford Focus also had its own problems).

4. Fourth Generation

This much-needed refresh brought the looks of the Focus in line with the other Ford models which were on the market at that time. Additionally, this era of the Focus really ensured that whenever you’re asking “are Ford Focus good cars“, the answer is a solid YES.

The fourth and most recent generation of the Ford Focus hit the showroom floors back in 2018. This model commemorated the 20th anniversary of the model and was also the most technologically advanced one yet.

The fourth generation Focus was built upon an all-new platform. This had the benefit of increasing both the overall dimensions well as the space inside the passenger cabin. In addition, several body styles of the Focus were made available – including a wagon, sedan, and a five-door hatchback.

Moreover, an all-new Ford Focus Active with a raised ride height was introduced, which aimed at competing with the crossovers and SUVs of the world.

Inside, the MK4 Ford Focus was packed full of all the latest technologies. The Ford SYNC infotainment system was now more advanced than ever. Safety features like active braking and lane keep assistance allowed the Focus to once again achieve a five-star rating in the Euro NCAP safety tests.

The Focus received its latest refresh in 2022. With this, a new automatic transmission and several highly efficient hybrid powertrains were made available to the public. Additionally, the infotainment system was updated to the latest SYNC 4 standard, making it more responsive than ever.

Now that you know all about the previous generations of the Ford Focus, let us take a closer look at the 2012 model in more detail.

2012 Ford Focus

If you disregard the 2012 Ford Focus transmission recall for a moment, this could be considered one of the best family cars of the time. Ford offered several trim levels of the Focus in 2012. The Ambiente served as the entry-level model, followed by the Trend and Sports models.

The range-topping Ford Focus trim level carried the name “Titanium”.

2012 Ford Focus, Specs #1 – Performance

The 2012 Ford Focus was one of the best performers in its class. There were several engines to choose from, but the most popular options were the 1.6-liter Duratec and 2.0 GDi direct injection gasoline engines, as well as the 2.0-liter Duratorq diesel.

All of these engines can be paired with either a five-speed manual or a six-speed PowerShift automatic transmission. The suspension system is also one of the strongest areas of the Ford Focus. It comes equipped with torque vectoring technology, allowing you to carry more speed into the corners, and also superior handling characteristics.

The same praise can be given to the braking performance of the 2012 Ford Focus as well. It is aided by safety technologies such as ABS, EBA, and EBD, which ensure minimum brake fade no matter how hard you step on the anchors.

2012 Ford Focus, Specs #2 – Interior

The interior of the 2012 Ford Focus set a new benchmark for family cars of that era. The dashboard was covered with soft-touch materials, and piano-black accents gave it an expensive appearance. Thanks to the swooping roofline, now there was more room inside the passenger compartment than ever before seen on a Ford Focus.

A 4.2-inch multi-function display took center stage on the dashboard.  This screen had an array of features, including voice control, audio streaming, MP3, and digital signal processing.

2012 Ford Focus Transmission Recall

On top of all that, if you decided to go for the range-topping Titanium mode, several additional features like heated seats, rain-sensing wipers, mood lighting, and keyless entry.

The 2012 Focus had the edge over the competition on the storage front too. With 277 liters of storage, the Focus hatch was the perfect vehicle for young families. The sedan took this even further by offering 372 liters of cargo space, even with a full-sized spare tire on the back.

For even more storage, you could fold the rear seats in a 60/40 split. This increased the overall cargo space of the Focus hatch to a massive 1062 liters.

2012 Ford Focus, Specs #3 – Safety

Being one of the best-selling vehicles ever made, it is no wonder that the 2012 Focus came with some of the latest safety features at the time.  Anti-lock brakes, dynamic stability control, traction control, hill launch assistance, and emergency brake assistance came as standard, no matter which trim level you chose to go for.

However, Ford did not stop there and took extra steps to ensure the safety of this vehicle. The individual single-stage and curtain airbags ensured that the passengers remained safe no matter how bad a collision was. The side airbags even had adaptive venting technology, which was designed to ensure the safety of smaller occupants.

As you can understand, the 2012 Ford Focus was one of the best cars on the road at that time. However, there was one major issue that led to its downfall. Are you curious about what that is? If so, follow us along to the next section.

2012 Ford Focus Transmission

Along with the 2011 Ford Fiesta (check out our guide on the 2011 Ford Fiesta problems and our overview of the reliability of the Ford Fiesta to learn more), the 2012 Focus was one of the first vehicles to come with the DPS6 dual-clutch transmission. The American manufacturer also referred to this system as the “PowerShift.”

However, there were several issues with this system from the beginning. These issues were what ultimately resulted in the 2012 Ford Focus transmission recall. Some of the most common complaints by Ford Focus owners related to the transmission system include these Ford Focus transmission problems,

2012 Ford Focus Transmission Recall, Problems #1 – Transmission Shudders

The PowerShift transmission of the 2012 Focus came from the factory with a dry-clutch design. Due to this reason, the system had a tendency to engage gears abruptly, resulting in shakes and shudders.

This was one of the most common complaints of Focus owners at the time. On top of making the car unpleasant to drive, the shuddering induced premature wear on the clutch as well. Over time, the clutch would go bad, requiring owners to spend money on a complete transmission in order to get their vehicles back on the road.

2012 Ford Focus Transmission Recall, Problems #2 – Hesitation

Several 2012 Focus drivers faced issues with transmission slipping and hesitation, where the vehicle would have trouble shifting through the gears. Several causes such as broken shift solenoids, contaminated transmission fluid, and improper module calibration were some of the most probable causes behind this issue.

If your 2012 Ford Focus is hesitating to go through the gears, we recommend you take your vehicle to a mechanic as soon as possible. Broken solenoids typically take a large sum of money to fix, while the other issues are relatively inexpensive.

So, be wary of the symptoms of bad shift solenoids. There are occasions where the issue can be as simple as a blown transmission solenoid fuse. In this case, you might be able to save a lot on the transmission solenoid replacement cost, though it’s not always so.

2012 Ford Focus Transmission Recall, Problems #3 – Sudden Shifts To Neutral

Another reported issue with the 2012 Focus transmission is the vehicle suddenly shifting into neutral. If this happens while you are on the road, the vehicle will either stall or be completely unable to move. As you might have already guessed, this is a dangerous issue that has the possibility of causing a major accident.

2012 Ford Focus Transmission Recall

Improper calibration of the transmission control module is the main reason behind this potential hazard. And if the gearbox gets stuck in neutral, there is little hope of restoring it back into working order. It’s one of the more common signs of a bad transmission.

2012 Ford Focus Transmission Recall, Problems #4 – Overheating

All of the above-mentioned issues can result in the PowerShift transmission of the Focus overheating. An overheating transmission will worsen your overall fuel economy, and also have a negative effect on the vehicle’s performance.

Furthermore, frequent overheating will significantly reduce the lifespan of your transmission as well. If your Focus is affected by this issue, replacing the transmission fluid might be a potential solution.

However, this is only a temporary fix, and replacement of internal transmission components might be required to remedy the issue completely.

Ford Focus Transmission Recall

The 2012 Ford Focus transmission recall was issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and it was mainly concerned with several issues such as,

  • Power Loss
  • Engine Not Starting
  • Faulty Gear Engagement
  • Excessive Vibrations
  • Clutch Shuddering Under Acceleration

In addition to the above-mentioned problems, erroneous trouble codes related to the transmission system were another cause behind the 2012 Ford Focus transmission recall. The trouble codes most frequently encountered by Focus owners are,

  • U0294 – Indicates a bad connection to the powertrain control unit
  • P0882 – There is an error with the transmission control circuit
  • P2803 – A malfunctioning gear position indicator
  • P0706 – Faulty transmission range sensor (you might otherwise notice a P0705 code, too)

2012 Ford Focus Transmission Fluid

In order to limit transmission issues with your Ford Focus, you should only use the correct type of transmission fluid (such as the 2014 Ford Fusion transmission fluid). Ford recommends the use of full synthetic transmission fluid to ensure the longevity of the transmission system.

Ideally, this fluid should be replaced once every 30,000 miles. Failing to do so may land your vehicle in some reliability issues down the line.

If you suspect that the transmission fluid in your system has gone bad, you should perform a transmission flush. Doing so will remove the old fluid from the internals of the system, and replace it with brand-new fluid. Typically, it takes about 10 quarts of fluid to fully flush out the transmission system of a 2012 Ford Focus.

Therefore, you can use that to approximate the total transmission fluid change cost. If you need an early warning before the fluid goes bad entirely, you can always check the ATF fluid. Make sure that before you do that, you figure out if you need to check the transmission fluid while it’s hot or cold.

After you’ve learned how to check the transmission fluid, you can then assess the condition of the fluid itself. So, if you notice burnt transmission fluid or if the transmission fluid color is pretty dark, it’s time for a flush.

2012 Ford Focus Transmission Control Module

The Transmission Control Module, otherwise known as the TCM, is one of the major components of the Ford Focus transmission. It is an electrical component that is responsible for interpreting the various electrical signals sent from sensors placed throughout your vehicle.

The TCM works closely with the turbine speed sensor, throttle position sensor, and fluid temperature sensor among others to gather critical data about the performance of your vehicle. This data is then used to execute the gear shifts as needed.

There are several symptoms you can use to identify Transmission Control Module failures beforehand. These include the likes of poor fuel economy, gear slips (this is what causes a transmission to slip), bad acceleration, and trouble when shifting gears.

If you are experiencing one or more of these issues, get your transmission system inspected by a professional. TCM failures should not be ignored, as unexpected failures of this component can lead to accidents. Generally, a Transmission Control Module replacement on a 2012 Ford Focus can cost you between $800 to $1200.

Ford Focus Transmission Malfunction Reset

Resetting the transmission on a 2012 Ford Focus is a multi-stepped process. First, you should turn the key to the 2nd position. When you do this, all the lights on the dashboard will turn on. Then, fully depress the gas pedal, and wait a few seconds.

After that, you should turn the key to the “OFF” position, and release the gas pedal. After waiting a couple of minutes, start the vehicle and go for a test drive. This will reset the transmission system of your Ford Focus.


Although the 2012 Ford Focus was celebrated by many at the time of its launch, a slew of transmission recalls has made it a vehicle to avoid. These recalls were mainly associated with the state-of-the-art “PowerShift” dual-clutch transmission that made its debut with this model.

Reliable reliability problems gearbox

Shuddering transmissions, hesitation to shift into gears, shifting into neutral without warning, and overheating transmissions were some of the main reasons that resulted in the aforementioned recall.

If you are in the market for a Ford Focus, we recommend you avoid the 2012 model year. And if you have to have one from 2012, pay close attention to the transmission system before going ahead with the purchase.

FAQs On 2012 Ford Focus Transmission Recall

How Long Does It Take To Fix A Transmission

General transmission maintenance work like recalibration, sealing, and flushing fluid only take a few hours to complete. However, a full transmission rebuild typically takes around there to four days and costs about $1000.

How Much Does A Ford Focus Weigh

The average curb weight of a Ford Focus lies between 2935 and 3434 pounds. But, this weight can vary depending on the body style as well as the powertrain and interior options.

How Many Miles Does A Ford Focus Last

If you take care of your Ford Focus, it can last up to 200,000 miles. This equates to around thirteen to sixteen years of constant on-road use.

Is A 2012 Ford Focus A Good Car

The 2012 Ford Focus is an affordable family car equipped with the latest technological features at the time. However, this model suffers from a number of transmission issues, so keep that in mind before spending your money.

Does Ford Still Make The Focus

The Focus has remained in constant production since going on sale over two decades ago. However, the production of the Focus will seize in 2025. This will also bring the production of Ford vehicles in Germany to an end.

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