Watchdog: Fiesta alloys

Watchdog: Ford Fiesta alloys
15 Aug, 2012 10:51am Rachel Burgess

Ford Fiesta owners complain their alloys are too weak for UK roads. But what does Ford say?

Are the alloy wheels on Ford Fiestas too weak for Britain’s roads? One Auto Express reader thinks they are – and there are plenty of angry Fiesta owners on various online forums who agree.

An alloy on Anthony Lloyd’s 2010 Titanium TDCi model buckled after just 10 months of ownership. Trowbridge Ford told Anthony, from Westbury, Wiltshire, that it wasn’t covered under Ford’s one-year Wear and Tear warranty, arguing that the damage was down to his driving style.

He paid £150 to replace it – and was then dismayed to find a second and then a third wheel starting to buckle, too. Ford forums showed this was a common problem with the Fiesta’s wheels, but the company refuses to help.

Anthony moaned: “The reason I went for a Ford was I expected reliability. I was a student at the time and I didn’t have money spare for problems. I now worry when I’m driving long distances that a wheel will buckle further, which could be dangerous.”

Ford didn’t back down when we called to complain, either. Its spokeswoman did admit “complaints relating to alloy wheel damage are not unusual in the UK”, adding: “There have been some cases where Ford has contributed to repair costs as a gesture of goodwill.”

However, it believed Anthony’s alloys had buckled as a result of impact damage and was unwilling to help him out.

Gripes logged at reveal endless issues with Fiesta alloys, though. User b1g_dav3 said: “A large number of us are having hassle with our alloys buckling.” And JWSturner added: “I have 17-inch Street Pack alloys and all four buckled.”

The RAC’s legal advice team said that unhappy Fiesta customers have two potential avenues of redress. “Both are reliant upon proving that the vehicle was defective at the point of sale,” explained a spokesman.

Owners may have a claim against the dealer under the Sale of Goods Act if they can prove the car was not fit for purpose and of satisfactory quality at the time of sale. But they’ll also need to prove that problems weren’t caused by wear and tear, misuse or accidental damage.

Alternatively, owners might take independent advice in respect of the product and what remedies may be available to them. At the very least the owner would need to establish that the manufacturer had been negligent in manufacturing the vehicle and they will need expert evidence to show that the fault was an inherent manufacturing defect.

Anthony’s case: At-a-glance

The problem
The alloy wheels on reader Anthony’s Fiesta keep buckling – and he’s not the only one, according to online forums. But Ford doesn’t want to know.

Ford's response
While there’ve been a number of cases of problems with alloys, Ford would not help Anthony, arguing his wheels had been damaged as a result of impact.

Legal advice
If you think your car is faulty, you need expert evidence to prove a manufacturing defect and you’ll also need to prove the maker was negligent in manufacturing the vehicle.

Our verdict
With a wear and tear part like alloys, damage could always be down to the actions of the owner. But with this many complaints, Ford would do well to reassess the robustness of its alloys.

Do you have a motoring problem that needs investigating? We're here to help… E-mail or Tweet us @AutoExpress.

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I bought a new mondeo in 2009, and within 3 months parts of the trim fallen of (under the doors on the outside), the carpet in the back seat started moving sideways and started to make bumps, making me to move it back into place every time someone was getting in the back in sit.
The plastic on the centre console was getting scratched really easy( all i had there was my phone which was on a leather case most of the time), the numbers on the gear knob also started to fade away after the first year, the ford symbols on the wheels and boot also started to fade away, the center console wasn't properly fitted to the floor what made it easy to shift to side slightly, it was also easy to move it back into place.

The computer system gave me a yellow warning (which i never found out what it was because when i took to a dealer on the warranty they said it was because the car needed servicing (when i still had over a month spare to do it).

Also the ford staff and salesman were arrogant and pushy (Prescot, St. Helens and Liverpool), also.

After two years I sold that crap, and I am glad to say that mondeo was the first ford and the last.
As a side note, I got it because parkers and autoexpress highly recommend it against the likes of passat or skodas, giving it five starts, however auto-express, carbuyer and other websites should worry less about bottle space and soft-touch materials and more about the bits and bobs on the trim and interior that can go wrong really quickly since writers get to have these cars for long test drives.

I know this reader mentions the fiesta, but i have also driven it, and there is so many bits that can go wrong so easily on that car, besides the rims.

Shame on ford for their crappy quality and also on all the websites and car magazines that fail to mention all this bits and bobs on cars and rate fords often with 4.5 to 5 starts. Readers of these reviews have to live with the car for a few years.

Hi, given the relatively few number of cars compared to the number sold I would personally query these instances of buckled wheels, which is probably why Ford is taking stance. I have driven a number of Ford cars with alloy wheels, and I am sure that they are manufactured in the same way by the same supplier, and I have never had a buckled wheel once. However I would say that instead of the 'unscientific' claim that the wheels are unsuitable for our roads that a proper investigation be carried out by the car owners that are having this issue by a correct engineer to establish whether, or whether not, there is a actual manufacturing problem. Obviously this would be at a cost to the owners of the cars but they could all share this, then a case can be launched against Ford in the small claims court if it was found out that the wheels were faulty otherwise we just end with this stalemate.

Having worked at ford I can say it is know in the dealer that alloys buckle and its a common fault on the Fiesta. The main alloys to do so are the Street Pack alloys that are for the Zetec S and you can get them on the Titanium. Another thing was if you had the Titanium spec from when they came out till recently when they change the alloys, if you scuffed them you needed to repaint the whole alloy and as they were macheine polished you would loose that look of them so would have to paint all 4 to match. I was supprised for Ford never wanted to help with the buckled wheel issue.

My 2011 Fiesta has 15 inch steel wheels and one rim was recently severly dented by an unseen object on an unlit rural road at night (maybe a pothole or raised manhole cover). I certainly heard and felt it though but was shocked at the severity of the dent in the rim. However I was fortunate and it was possible for it to be knocked back into shape or it would have been £80 for a new wheel! (steel remember and without tyre). I am not in the habit of kerbing my wheels nor driving over hard objects in the road and have owned numerous Fords over the years without any such problem. I wonder if the sidewalls of the tyres fitted to the larger rim sizes now in use are insufficient to absorb relatively small impacts?

If you have Comprehensive car insurance cover you could claim for a damaged wheel on your car insurance provided the damage can be attibuted to one identifiable incident rather than wear and tear. You will need to report it to your insurer as soon as possible though and your no claims discount will be affected.

Seeing as the Fiesta is one of the biggest selling cars in Europe, and lets be totally honest, the rest of Europe have bad roads as well, the glass smooth autobahn is a myth, if there was a problem with the alloys themselves , the sheer amount of vehicle sold would in theory produce thousands of cases, not just a few, if the numbers where in the thousands Ford would react.

So it's not the fact that the roads in some counties are horrendously pot holed ? And also if Anthony is a student with limited funds maybe he shouldn't be running around in a 2010 Fiesta that's about £10K

Re: Anthony Lloyd’s
2010 Titanium TDCi model buckled after just 10 months of ownership

''..and was then dismayed to find a second and then a third wheel
starting to buckle, too. - Ford
forums showed this was a common problem with the Fiesta’s
wheels, but the company refuses to help...did admit “complaints
relating to alloy wheel damage are not unusual in the UK”
...However, it believed Anthony’s alloys had buckled as a result of
impact damage and was unwilling to help him out.

Buckling indicates distortion between the mounting plane & the
rim i.e bending of the metal – impact damage is usually associated
with kerb impacts which are the responsibilty of the driver – if
however the 'impact damage' cited by Ford results from 'impact' with
'irregularities of the road surface' (in bureau speak) i.e UK roads
with broken surfaces & potholes then, & the damage is more
prevalent on one make or model, it's obvious that those wheels are
under-designed or not up to spec.

What is the incidence of Fiesta wheel problems overall? Perhaps
there was a batch of 'soft' wheels?

Those with wheel problems should get together to form an 'action
group' to organise a proper technical investigation – Ford would
most probably act if a coherent case is made.

I have had my Fiesta Zetec-S for 14 months and after having it's 1st service was informed that my front tyres were at 3mm after covering just over 8000 miles and one alloy had buckled. To correct this the tracking needs to be re-aligned and 2 new tyres at a cost of nearly £500 if I chose to opt for premium tyres. Cause - too many pot-holes not being repaired most likely caused the impact damage!

Don't complain to Ford, complain to your local Council and the Government, who have allowed our roads to get into this disgraceful state.
Many car companys alloys are suffering from the "third world" state of our roads.

Any car manufacturer will use a third party manufacturer to make it's wheels. The wheels for my Suzuki Alto are made by Enkei, for example. Ford themselves have used some big names such as OZ (MK1 Focus RS alloys).

My suspicion would be that the wheels causing most problems (i.e. the "street pack" wheels mentioned in comments already) are made by a different manufacturer to the "normal" alloys fitted to Fiestas.

Would be interesting to know who made each type of wheel to see if they are made by different manufacturers.

As usual, Fix Or Repair Daily accepting no responsibility. Why do companies and private buyers alike still buy their overpriced crap??? Build quality is horrendous, residuals are poor and after 3 years they are worthless.

Dave Gaunt - I find it frustrating how you comment on a thread when you only have a few of the details, I WAS a student when it happened, I took a student loan to cover my tuition fees and worked to pay for everything else, I did not drink or go out instead I choose to buy a car to travel 75 miles a day to Uni and back, it was my decision to buy the car which by the way was closer to £15000.

I did not contact auto express in order to draw attention to myself, I did it to try and get Ford to do something for the people that have had the problem as well.

And also for reference there are a large number certainly more than a few hundred who have the issues.

For the people who have not turned this article into an attack against Fiesta owners or myself I think maybe you should spend time thinking how annoyed you would be if it was your car.

If anyone else has any more questions in relation to my personal circumstances please feel free to comment and I will reply to them individually.

you went to uni and took out a loan to cover tuition fees. yet you paid 15k for a car... you could of used that spare 15k to pay your tuition instead. and should of got urself a little cheap runner to uni. but unlucky with the wheels. i usually buy alloys seperate too the standard alloys sold with the car myself.

The car is on finance as is the student loan, also 70 miles x 5 = 350 miles a week = 20000 miles a year. Not really appropriate in an old Citroen Saxo or something!

I have a 2 year old zetec 1.6s took it for the service and told it needs 2 new alloy wheels due to buckling never had that issue in 30 years plus of driving and although I have hit pot holes its a fact of life in this country so the wheels should be up to it.Not happy.

I bent all 4 of mine within a year of owning the car... Awesome wheel you made there Ford. You think you have a problem in the UK. You want to try replacing them in Australia at 800 USD PER wheel

Having covered 60k miles in my 2009 Fiesta Zetec S tdci; I can confirm that the 16" wheels are awfully weak. I am about to replace my wheels for the 2nd time. This time I will be purchasing aftermarket wheels.

I have owned numerous Bmw's and Volkswagens in the past... Surprise surprise... No buckled wheels on those!

Hi. Had my Fiesta Titanium 1.6TDCI since new. Did most of my driving on motorways until last year. Low and behold a nice pothole (water filled with images) badly dented FNS wheel rim and tyre. Council rejected all responsibility. OK, replaced that with new. 4 months later new wheel with similar damage on a lesser pothole. I've driven for 30 years on alloys without a hiccup. These alloys have to be soft! Did a BSI search EN ISO 1741 tests alloys for impact, but this is just a minimum safety standard. So got onto some manufacturers. Surprise, they won't issue test results on their wheel impact tests according to this standard. Result is replace, even with after market, you still don't know what your getting. OK, the 'suggestion' is reduce titanium 195/45/16's to 195/50/15's. i.e. reduce the wheel to 15inch, increase the tyre wall to 50 'may' soften the blow. But the 15's are fitted standard to lesser models of the Fiesta and still get damaged. I'd buy after market wheels, but is there someone who will stand up and say ' their alloys are better based on test result 'x'

@cuke2u. Most people just want the car working. Vote with your feet if you have to, but with this problem, reputable wheel manufacturers should stand themselves out above the parapit and say 'our's are good' Or, has the whole industry turned yellow and downgraded due to cheap imports??
So far Stalemate.

I have had a ford fiesta with alloys for 2 years. after 3 weeks of having the car i had to replace 1 alloy. within 2 years i'm now on my 4th alloy thats buckled, how can ford say this is wear and tear.

Mine Have buckled the same way and are costing me a fortune in repairs. I have had 3 fords and this is the only one I have had problems with. I'm appalled at the lack of service I have required and the amount I have had to spend!

Same issue down under with my 09 Zetec. One wheel buckled completely on hitting a rain filled pothole and the tyre ran off the rim whilst my son was having a driving lesson so going slow.All the rims are out of true and to replace one is over a thousand Dollars AU from Ford ,whilst a good set of 4 aftermarket ones are less. Ford have very stringent requirements for wheel strength, kerbing,tilt mode analysis etc and I am sure these do not conform..I used to work for Ford in R&D so I have a good Idea.
Ford really need to lift their game on safety items like this.

we've had quite a few fords and have been happy until buying a 2009 fiesta titanium with 16" alloys. Result 3 buckled wheels within a year and Ford don't want to help just blaming the state of the roads. We replaced all the Ford wheels with a cheap set of alloys from Halfords in November 2010 and have had no further problems despite the roads now being in a worse state. The quality of the wheels means that they were/are not fit for purpose. It's a shame that Ford are trying to dismiss this problem as there must be a lot of dissatisfied customers like us who now will not buy from them again.

2011 plate fiesta Titanium 7 spoke alloy wheels, just had 3 wheels buckle in 2 months on hitting small pot holes, never had a wheel buckle in my 25yrs of driving, disgusting quality and service from Ford. This is a serious problem!

Fiesta titanium all four wheels buckled all need replacing, already changed wheel 2 months ago and that also needs replacing. Pondering what to do for the best cant keep replacing wheels every two months. Ford blame us for hitting potholes. Liked the car but now don't feel safe in it!

During the MOT of my Ford Fiesta 2008 model with only 44,000 miles this week I was advised to replace all four alloy wheels. Polar Ford, Warrington told me this was highly unusual in their experience. Well it cost be £493 with my Ford employee discount and Ford won't cover the costs. I am also concerned about the safety issues relating to alloy wheel buckling under normal driving conditions. Am I alone on this one?