In this article we’ve outlined all the most important things you should watch for when you’re in the market for a C-Max Hybrid or Energi.
So, what kind of problems does a Ford C-Max Hybrid and Energi usually have?
The Ford C-Max Hybrid and Energi, particularly 2013-2014 models, have had widespread electrical problems, premature transmission failure and failure of the steering mechanism. Furthermore, the 2013 – 2015 Energi has had a recall for overheating charging cords. Other notable issues include door latches opening while driving, non-deployment of airbags, and a weak front seat structure.
However, that doesn’t tell the whole story. In the rest of the article, we’ll discuss every problem in detail.
Furthermore, we’ll let you know if recalls for specific problems have been issued or not. When applicable, we’ll also discuss the cost of repair or any other helpful information. Read on!
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1. A Tremendous Amount Of Electrical Problems
The Ford C-Max has been on the market between 2013 – 2017. During this period, one of the most complained about elements of the car (for both the Hybrid and Energi) was its electrical system.
These problems were most noticeable with the 2013 and 2014 model years, but they persisted in one way or another with the 2015 and 2016 models.
Common symptoms of these electrical problems were as follows: the car shutting down completely without a warning sign while driving, the car’s radio not working or the volume being stuck at a certain level, and the window wipers not functioning.
Owners have stated that their batteries were replaced multiple times and that the cause of the problem never seemed to be a faulty battery. Instead, Ford learned that a defective radio fuse caused the radio problems. However, what caused the other problems, and if they were related to the radio fuse, remains unknown.
In some instances, it wasn’t merely a faulty battery but issues associated with the Body Control Module (BCM), a crucial component that manages and controls various electrical functions.
The BCM in these vehicles seemed to have some inherent issues that impacted its ability to effectively coordinate the different electrical components of the vehicle, leading to these prevalent electrical problems.
Finally, what was frustrating about this problem was that a recall was never issued. Therefore, owners have been left to figure it out themselves.
This is important because, if you’re in the market for a C-Max Hybrid or Energi, it’s worth checking how many problems your particular model has had concerning the electricals.
2. Complete Transmission Failure
Another commonly complained about problem of both Hybrid and Energi versions of the C-Max was its problematic power train. Owners reported various complaints, such as a loud grinding or thumping noise from the transmission and difficulty shifting.
This problem was explicitly present in the 2013 and 2014 models but persisted in some cases with the 2015 and 2016 models. For the 2013 and 2014 models, Ford issued a technical service bulletin with the codename 14B07.
In this TSB, Ford states that the transfer shaft gear assembly bearing may fail prematurely (which it did in many cases). They also noted the exact symptoms owners had experienced and possible illumination of the powertrain fault indicator (the wrench symbol) on the dashboard.
Dealers were told to inspect the transmission and replace the transmission if any damage was found. However, what annoyed owners about this is that this TSB never turned into a recall even though the damage had already been done in many cases.
3. Impaired Steering
A third complaint that dragged on for too long involved the steering mechanism. Owners reported a sudden loss and complete inability to steer the steering wheel.
This, of course, led to very dangerous situations on the highway or during parking. Interestingly, both the 2013 and 2014 models had this problem, but a small recall was eventually only issued for a few hundred 2014 models under number 14V514000.
The recall issued by Ford described the incorrect assembly of steering gears in the affected models. This would lead to this complete loss of steering. Dealers were ordered to replace the steering gears free of charge in recalled models.
However, owners were left to fix this problem by themselves in models that weren’t part of the recall. Since replacing the steering gears can set you back between $400 – $600 for a C-Max, this was quite a painful experience for these owners.
4. Doors Opening While Driving
Ford had to issue two recalls in both 2016 and 2020 for the 2013 – 2015 models of all C-Max. These model years had quite sizeable problems with the doors not latching correctly. This resulted in situations where the door opened while the car was driving, resulting in dangerous situations.
During the first recall in 2016, the door latches were replaced with an improved part. However, Ford messed this up once again, which is why the 2020 recall was issued for the same models.
The enhanced part turned out to not function properly once again, so the second recall was issued. The parts were once again replaced with improved latches.
5. 120V Convenience Charge Cords Overheating
This problem and a recall specifically involved the 2013 – 2015 model years of the C-Max Energi. These cars had 120V charge cords that were manufactured without thermistors.
Thermistors are parts of the charge cord that control the heat and the resistance within the charge cord. This allows it to be consistent and decreases the risk of overheating.
Without this part, the cords would overheat and melt, increasing the risk of fires. Almost 50,000 vehicles within the Ford company were recalled for this particular problem.
The solution involved replacing the 120V charge cords with newer ones that did have a thermistor. This did fix the problem since later generations of the Energi did not have the problem.
6. Non-Deployment Of Airbags
Ford had to issue another recall for the 2013 and 2014 models because of the non-deployment of certain airbags. Specifically, a recall was issued for the frontal airbags, side curtain airbags, and the seat belt pretensioners because these did not function properly in a crash. The recall number was 14V597000.
With this recall, the problem was that the coating on portions of the restraint control module cracked, which allowed the circuit print boards to be exposed to humidity. These would then short-circuit. Therefore, the restraint control module was replaced during this recall.
The other recall (14V237000) for the airbags was explicitly issued for the side curtain airbags. It turned out these would have a delayed deployment in certain rollover situations. Again, this would significantly increase the chance of injury.
The delay was caused by errors in the programming software of the restraint control module. The solution involved reprogramming the restrain control module to deploy at the right time.
7. Weak Front Seat Structure
Another sizeable recall involved the 2013 – 2014 models of both the C-Max Hybrid and the Energi. The front seat assemblies were made with weaker than anticipated weld joints used to attach the seat back recliner mechanism to the seat frame.
In other words, when these cars ended up crashing, the seats would come loose from the frame and go flying through the cabin with the persons still attached to them.
This recall began in May 2014 and involved replacing the seatback in the affected models under recall number 14V164000.
8. Other Recalls
- 2013 models were recalled that were equipped with the ‘intelligent access push-button start system.’ The vehicles didn’t make a chiming sound when the vehicle ran, and the driver seat door was open. The solution was to update the software of the door chime. Recall number 13V475000.
- 2013 models were recalled for a non-functioning child lock even though the system made the driver believe the child lock was engaged. The solution was to replace the rear door latches. Recall number 13V085000.
- 2013 models without a panoramic roof were recalled because Ford needed to place an energy absorber between the headliner. These models exceeded specific safety regulations regarding the headliner structure, which meant occupants had an increased risk of injury. Recall number 13V303000.
- 2015 models were recalled because they would continue to run after the key or the start/stop engine button is turned off. This meant that shifting the car would cause unexpected movement and increase the risk of an injury. The solution involved updating the body control module software.
What Are The Worst Years Of The C-Max Hybrid And Energi?
Finally, we’ll have to answer the question of which model years are the best and worst for the C-Max Hybrid and Energi. After doing extensive research, there’s only one conclusion we can truly reach.
The 2013 and 2014 model years of both the C-Max Hybrid and Energi are the worst model years you can get. These Ford model years suffer from malfunctioning electrical systems because of problems with the fuses or the wiring. Furthermore, they’re known for complete transmission failure and loss of steering, and numerous other recalls.
On the other hand, the 2016 and 2017 model years of the C-Max Hybrid and Energi are the best model years you can get. These model years have had no recalls, and the previous model years’ electrical, steering, and transmission problems were almost completely solved.
Wrapping up our deep-dive into the Ford C-Max Hybrid and Energi models, we’ve highlighted some significant issues you should be aware of, such as electrical problems, premature transmission failure, and steering mechanism issues, among others.
The specificity of these problems underscores the need to understand a vehicle’s unique strengths and weaknesses when considering purchase and ownership.
If you found this analysis helpful then you might be keen to delve further into common problems like ones found in the Ford F-150 given the F-150’s standing as a highly popular Ford model, it can serve as a useful point of comparison when considering potential issues with the Ford C-Max Hybrid and Energi.
And for those of you interested in broader transmission-related issues across the Ford lineup, check out “All Ford Overdrive Problems & Reliability Issues“. It provides a wider perspective on Ford’s mechanical reliability, which can be useful if you’re a Ford owner or looking to become one.
In sum, every vehicle, including the Ford C-Max Hybrid and Energi, has its unique set of potential issues. Being aware of these helps you make informed buying decisions and enhances your ownership experience.
Stay informed, stay safe, and happy driving!
Hi! My name is Stefan; I’m the owner and lead writer at TheDriverAdviser.com.
I’m an active writer on this blog myself, as well as a novice car mechanic. For the really technical stuff, I find writers with experience as a mechanic or who have studied mechanical engineering.
Read more about our fantastic team on our about page!