Common problems with the Ford Fiesta

Fiestas are straightforward, fun cars with a wide appeal. Another good all-rounder from Ford, there are nevertheless a few things to look out for – most of which you can address with second-hand car parts, which are readily available thanks to Ford’s popularity.

The Fiesta was launched in 1976 and is now into its sixth generation. Different versions have built on the previous ones’ success, and there is a huge amount of choice available in size, petrol or diesel engine, and accessories. Ford’s overwhelming presence means that there are a lot of used cars around – and therefore a lot of second-hand Fiesta parts, too. This, and the number of Ford garages in the country, makes maintenance a breeze (generic garages will see them all the time, too). Since it’s a reliable little car, this should be infrequent anyway, though there are a handful of common issues you should be aware of.

General problems

Fiestas are cheap to run and you’ll get decent fuel economy out of one. They’re also a fun, nippy little drive. Whilst this makes them suitable for just about anyone, the smaller ones tend to be a popular first car. That can often mean a used Fiesta will have some serious wear on it, thanks to a teenaged driver hammering it. That will be noticeable from the inside and out. One thing you should check is that petrol engines have had regular oil changes (every 10,000 miles, or more frequently), or they can fail earlier than necessary. Look for damp in the boot and elsewhere, too.


Recalls on new cars will be covered under warranty. Ford should have written to you informing you of any work that needs doing, but check your year on the web just in case. Fiestas built in the last decade have had a few recalls – due to steering problems, welding on the rear axle and a fuel pipe leak. If you’re buying second-hand, make sure these have been taken care of, or have a corresponding sum knocked off the price if not.

Specific issues

  • Faulty water pumps are a reported issue. Listen out for odd noises when the car is idling. These are not expensive to replace and you can buy one from a used car parts dealer.
  • There have been some problems with automatic gearboxes. Take it for a good test drive and make sure the gear changes are smooth, since these can cost a lot to fix.
  • On diesel engines there have been reported problems with the injector seals. You’ll hear the car spluttering when it’s idling, or else there will be an unusually strong smell of diesel. In some cases this can cost the better part of £1,000 to address.
  • Ford recommend you change the cam belt every 100,000 miles or 10 years.


A perennial favourite, the Ford Fiesta shouldn’t cause many problems for most people. In some cases, you could end up with a car that’s been driven harder than most, resulting in higher maintenance costs over the long term. Given the number of Fiestas around, you can afford to pick and choose, though. One of the benefits of a big name like Ford is that you’ll never be short of used Fiesta parts to carry out basic repairs. These can be purchased from a breaker or online dealer.

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