What should I look for in a used Ford Focus RS hatchback?
This is of course a car that will have been used enthusiastically - and why not? - so it’s worth carrying out checks to the bodywork first. Look at the front and rear extremities of the car, checking for scuffs and dents, and keep an eye on the undersides too, for any signs of potential off-road excursions. Check that the bodywork looks straight, and that the doors and tailgate open without stress, and the windscreen for any cracks. Also check the alloy wheels for any signs of kerb damage, as these will be expensive to set right.
Inside, it’s worth checking the condition and movement of those expensive Recaro seats, as well as doing cursory checks to make sure the sat-nav and heating items all work as they should.
Reported problems with the RS are few, and on the whole owners seem happy with their cars. However, there have been several incidents relating to a leaking head gasket on the engine. A plume of white smoke on start up is the telltale sign, and a few owners have even needed new engines. It seems the wrong head gasket could have been used initially in the factory, leading to overheating issues, although most cars seem to run okay, especially when warm. It’s worth checking with the previous owner or garage if the car you’re looking at has had any issues here, or checking Ford’s own technical website (etis.ford.com). Ford has so far not issued any recalls over this problem.
The Focus RS didn’t feature on its own in or most recent reliability survey, but the Focus came fourth in the family car class - a good result - and Ford finished in ninth place out of 32 manufacturers.