Hesitation at Low Idle, 2013 Ford Focus

We have a brand new 2013 Ford Focus, a little over 2500 miles. We drove the vehicle to NYC, starting the trip with over 500 miles. During stop-n-go driving the following conditions are experienced:

  • car in drive but stopped, engine idles at 750rpm
  • car moving at crawl speed, less than 5mph, and RPM between 750 to 2100, engine acts as if it will stall (IT IS AN AUTOMATIC TRANS); when this happens there’s an obvious shudder - again almost as if the car will stall out
  • cannot determine what gear its in, but probably first, second, or maybe third, but no higher

We took the car back to the dealer, but they acted as if this was a normal, if not, non existent issue; they were very dismissive.

Has anyone experienced the same issues?

Is this an intermittent problem, or does it happen all the time?
You might ask to have someone come with you so they can experience it. Conversely, you could tell them that you wish to try out a different car from their lot to see if that one does it too. If they balk, tell them if it’s normal, then they shouldn’t have any problem letting you take another one out for a spin.

If this IS normal, then the OP should have bought a Focus with a manual transmission.
Or, if they can’t drive a manual, a car that isn’t a Ford Focus.

Since the car is new the dealer should be able to let you drive another new Focus to see if it behaves the same way.

I bet they can fix it but after the warranty period has expired. I’d kick it up a notch and complain to Ford about it. That can’t possibly be normal on a new car.
It’d be difficult to tell remotely what the problem may be. Could be a throttle position sensor, something wrong with the idle air control valve or whatever drives it, etc - those would all just be guesses.

Here is an article on the Ford Powershift transmission in the Focus. Evidently there are software fixes that can help, mention this to the dealer next time you are there.

Ed B.

Concur w/ @edb1961, this may well be a trait of the car’s transmission. This topic is discussed more in another thread here, but apparently the Ford automatic xmission is actually a “manual-automatic”, which means it is really just a manual xmission equipped with a clutch (2 clutches, actually), and it shifts by “depressing” the the clutch, but by electronic computer control rather than your left foot. (A normal automatic xmission has no clutch and shifts using a sort of hydraulic computer, with a complicated set of tubes of xmission fluid going every which way, inside the xmission.) The advantage of the Ford type of xmission is better performance and better mpg, plus possibly a less expensive maintenance bill.

But it could be a problem w/this specific car. Or it could be that the software to control the xmssion needs an upgrade. The comments above are all good. The first thing to do is to ask to test drive another car like yours, a new one, and see if it does the same thing.

Drew - I, too, have a new 2013 Ford Focus, that I purchased in December. I have experienced the EXACT same issues with my Focus. Have you found a solution or an answer to the issue? I saw the Motor Trend link - just curious if you pursued this. Thank you!

I bought a Ford Focus 2013 Titanium new last summer. When I picked it up, this hesitation was obvious, while my salesperson was still in the car with me. He said, “That’s going to last about 60 days, as the computer gets used to the way you drive. It will then disappear.” Well, one year and 11,800 miles later it has not disappeared. My sons make fun of this–ha ha, Mom! What a wimpy car. This week, I took it in for routine maintenance and the Ford dealership crew told me it was the computer, it was normal, and it would never go away. I went straight to Honda and will be replacing this car. It’s got too many strikes against it. Nothing fits inside. The miles per gallon are not good enough to warrant the small cargo area. And though I do love the styling of the interior, the SyncMyRide system fails me often. It’s been annoying. Here’s what I’ll miss–the self parking! That’s pretty handy, especially when you get used to it. I got much quicker at parallel parking in just a few seconds using their parking system. Otherwise, my Honda Civic was better at handling, quicker to accelerate, and the service was far superior. Good-bye, Ford. I gave it a shot!

Good for you @TeenzBeenz !

I’m always glad when people don’t just go on moping around when they don’t like something. Just get rid of it.

BTW, Honda has been having problems with their new CVT transmissions and brakes apparently not lasting as long as they should.

If the salesman told me it’d take 2 months to “learn” my driving habits, I would have told him ‘MY driving habits will be with a different vehicles’, then left. Too much money to be spent on something that should have been dealt with in the R&D phase of development.

As @bscar2 says, when purchasing a new car, assume the way it drives when new is the best it will ever perform. If it doesn’t meet your needs on the test drive, ignore what the salesman says – after all, any opinion he offers is bound to be wildly biased – so move on, just try something else. There’s plenty of make/models/prices to choose from. Personally a little hesitation wouldn’t bother me on the downside, if the upside were the better reliability, lower maintenance offered by the “automatic clutch” manual transmission, but I can see how even a small hesitation at low speed might bother others.

@bscar2 You are absolutely on track. I regret not taking more of a stand at that point in time and will follow your advice in the future!

The problem too with dual clutch transmissions is that if you have to drop down two gears, such as if you’re in third on an on ramp, then punch it, that the transmission really isn’t “ready” for this and will behave rather sluggishly. Lacking a traditional torque converter to get things going, they also can be very sluggish from a standing start or slow rolling start in the right conditions.

With one of these, the programming is very important to the feel of it, so I would investigate whether a software update is available, as others have said.

I have a 1989 Ford escort that it hesitates in low spped to go it takes me about 15 minutes to warm it up and then it goes someone recommended using Lucas oil in it, it did help a little bit and the transmission was replaced in 2009 do I have to replace it again?

@Boogus A
Instead of tagging onto a thread about dual-clutch transmissions on late-model Fords, you really need to begin a new thread relating specifically to your Escort, which has a totally different transmission and very different issues.

Look for the red button in the upper right portion of the screen, labeled, “New Discussion”.
Use that to post your questions in a new thread if you want to get as many responses as possible.