Ford S-Max limp-home mode problem

* Ford S-Max repeatedly goes into limp-home mode * Recovery service finds fault but can't be found by Ford dealer * Ford retests the car and repairs it for free...

Ford S-Max limp-home mode problem

Iwan Cray bought his used Ford S-Max in July 2010 and was confident the one-year-old car would make a reliable purchase. In any case, there were two years of manufacturer warranty left should anything go wrong.

Fast forward to April 2012 and the MPV went into limp-home mode on the motorway, forcing Iwan to pull over. The RAC diagnosed a turbo problem, with the specific fault code 2263 taken from the S-Max’s onboard computer, and Iwan duly passed this on to his dealer, J&J Motors in Llanelli. The dealer, however, could find no trace of the code on the car’s computer and sent Iwan on his way with what seemed to be a fully functioning S-Max.

Four months later, when Iwan was on his way to France, the S-Max again lapsed into limp-home mode. Another RAC engineer attended and code 2263 reappeared on the diagnostic equipment. Iwan booked the MPV in to J&J before he carried on to France with the car working again.

Ten days later, back in the UK, Iwan rang J&J to confirm his booking and was shocked to be told that any work wouldn’t be under warranty because the policy had expired. ‘While the problem with the vehicle does not appear on a daily basis, as far as I’m concerned it was reported within the warranty period, yet remains unresolved and could reappear at any time,’ Iwan complained.

He turned to Helpdesk for help. We contacted the RAC, which confirmed code 2263 was a turbo fault; it was a mystery why the dealer’s diagnostic equipment hadn’t picked it up.

Armed with this knowledge, we approached Ford, which sent out its technicians to reassess the elusive fault. They found what they were looking for and set about resolving the issue. A few days later Iwan was back behind the wheel, and with a new turbocharger under the bonnet.

Ford later told Helpdesk that the problem had been complicated to diagnose and had in fact been caused by a previous owner who had failed to keep the oil topped up. The work hadn’t been covered by the warranty after all, but even so, Ford repaired the car for Iwan free of charge.

What if this happens to you?

  • Read your car’s handbook to understand dashboard lights that may indicate why your car is in limp-home mode.
  • If you call out a breakdown company, ask for any fault codes it comes up with. These could be crucial in resolving the issue.
  • Always keep oil topped up to required levels – low oil can cause serious engine damage.

We've prepared lots of useful advice, including a full guide on warranties that could help you with either a new or used car.

If you need our help, email us at with a few details and we'll be in touch.

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