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Ford Freestyle: All Common Problems You Should Know

What kind of problems does a Ford Freestyle normally have? In this blog, we’ve outlined all the most important things you should watch for when you’re in the market for a Freestyle. However, let’s first start with a quick answer:

Most commonly, the Ford Freestyle has problems with the synchronization of the timing belt. Furthermore, CVT failure is common, the rear brakes wear out prematurely, and the transmission can have problems such as slipping. The suspension may be too loose or can start making noises, and the electronics can cause the malfunctioning of several components.

However, that doesn’t tell the whole story. In the rest of the article, we’ll discuss every single problem in detail. Furthermore, we’ll tell you how to identify it, fix it and how much it costs to fix. Read on!

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Also read: The Complete Cost Of Maintaining A Ford

Exterior Problems

The Rear Brakes Go Out Pretty Soon

These freestyles are notorious for eating up the rear brakes super quickly. You will be changing these if they haven’t been changed in a while. The front brakes are no exception, though; they are equally guilty. And while replacing, the process of retracting the piston is the biggest issue that we would face when putting back the calipers.

The trick is to turn the caliper’s piston clockwise and push it in at the same time. There are several special tools available by different manufacturers for around $30 to do this job. Still, you can also have it done manually by “turning once and pushing once” and repeating this process until the piston gets to the bottom.

Ensure that the covering around the caliper’s piston has symmetrical folds while putting it in; otherwise, when you notice that the folds don’t align and it will be too late, you would have to go back and do the whole process again. You can buy a whole set of brakes (Rotors+Pads) for about $200, while the brake calipers are priced at around $50 each.

To ensure the brakes are in good working condition, check the travel of the brake padel and see the amount of stopping power you get out of it and see for any squeaking noises. If the noise persists even after braking several times, it might just be the brakes begging to be replaced.

Interior Problems

Seats Won’t Fold

This is a widespread problem that freestyle owners face. It occurs because the seats have many folding capabilities in different directions, and the locks are often not properly hinged in the right place. Make sure to push the seats into the locks with some extra force; otherwise, the seats will not lock into the hinge, and thus it will get stuck.

This is a safety measure to prevent the seats from moving while driving and otherwise might cause a mishap if they move out of nowhere. You can also check the crevices if they are filled with some debris because if there are some particles in the lock area, the locks will not properly fit in, and thus the seats will not move.

So make sure that the crevices are clean and the hinges are oiled to ensure smooth maneuverability and make it possible for the locks to fit. Once the locks are in place, you will be able to move the seats without a hitch. 

Engine Problems

The engines are bulletproof, and they don’t pose any problems given that the regular maintenance was carried out efficiently. Most of the problems occur due to poor maintenance. The first thing to check for any engine problems is to listen to any abnormal clunks while starting and idling.

Timing Chain Problem

These timing chains often lose their synchronization, and are hard to get it right and keep it right. If you hear sharp metallic noise from the front of the engine as if metallic beads are being shaken, then the timing chain is out. You would have to pay a professional to set the timing right. Or, if the issue is more than that, you would have to replace the whole kit. 

The timing chain can be aligned with the sprockets by a marked link count.

  • 12 links between cam timing (R/L banks)
  • 27 links between cam and crank (left bank/ drivers)
  • 30 links between cam and crank marks (right banks)

After setting the chain accordion to the given numbers, one can mark the positions for later use.

Transmission Problems

These crossovers/station wagons have CVT failure, which happens due to negligence in maintenance and might also happen regardless. So make sure that the one you are looking for has regular maintenance and the transmission fluid was changed under 100 thousand miles.

Slipping Gears

If the vehicle is shifting hard or shifting with a jerk “and it’s a CVT,” then you know that there is a problem. These tend to be smooth, and the shifts are rather subtle and refined, so much so that you don’t feel that the gear is shifting at all. The only thing that gives away the process is the rpm needle and the revving sound.

So if you are facing this gear-shifting issue, worst-case scenario- it’s the transmission, you need a replacement of the whole transmission. There is also an option of going for a transmission swap with, i.e., the 6-speed from Mercury Montego, but repair is not an option because no one knows how to repair them. And the replacement cost is also high. These are around $1000-$2000 in the used market.

The best-case scenario would be a problem with the transmission sensor from the input shaft, which also causes similar symptoms. If the problem doesn’t go away even after changing the faulty sensor and the transmission fluid, then your CVT is done for, and now it’s time for a replacement.

The Helicopter Noise

This is a distinct sound that you hear from the vehicle when it’s in parking, i.e., when the engine idles. The noise dampens a little on the reverse and goes away when in other gears. When you start driving, it comes back again and annoys you all the time. If these are the symptoms, then I have bad news for you.

It happens due to the input shaft failure, and now you need a transmission replacement. This input shaft problem is quite common, and it happens due to Ford’s manufacturing defect, and these go out prematurely because of that. These were changed under warranty, but these issues are still common to occur.

Without a warranty, these issues cost us $3000-$4000 for a new transmission and $1000-$2000 for the second-hand ones. The most problematic year is the 2005 model; it’s better to have everything thoroughly checked to ensure that what you are looking for is 100% okay.

The MPGs Are Low

This is a big negative in this crossover/station wagon. The highest you get is like 18mpg and doesn’t get any better than that. Although it does have this high fuel consumption problem, the price point of view is a plus. These are at a dirt low price these days, and it’s a lot of cars for such a low price.

If you are okay with this mileage and have found a Ford Freestyle with none of the issues mentioned here, then it’s legit and a good bargain. Unfortunately, the ones who got this brand new have faced quite a lot of depreciation in these past years, and their cross-over/station wagon could only retain 8% of its actual value, but it’s very fortunate for the buyers right now.  

Suspension Problems

These vehicles have body roll and abnormal wear and tear of the tires, basically due to the faulty suspension and improper alignment, respectively. When you know all of the issues, you will negotiate better and get a good bargain.

Feels Out Of Control

If you feel that the vehicle will roll over while turning, you have a common problem with the ford freestyle. The sway bars are not that good in this vehicle and were actually meant to give comfort at the stake of handling, so it gave us neither. It’s not that comfortable having boxy seats, and the body roll is prominent because of the soft sway bar.

Another reason why a Fordfreestle would feel out of control is the alignment issue. A bad alignment would have the steering tilt either to the right or left when going straight. The out-of-control feeling would be even more at high speeds, and the tire wear and tear would be asymmetrical, and the tread pattern and thickness will show the proof.

Check the side trims of the tires to see whether the tread wear is the same overall or it’s more at some areas and less at others. If the tread is different indeed, you would have to change the tires and have them aligned to have a comfortable ride.

There are many different types of alignments, i.e., single alignment, full alignment, and some of them are manually done while others are done with lasers; depending on which one you opt for, the expenditure would be around $50-$200.

Clunking Noise Is Coming From The Front

This is also one of the common problems that occur due to the aftermath of soft sway bars; all of that pressure from the body roll is carried by the shocks on one side, causing them to go bad earlier than expected. These struts/shocks can be replaced for about $500-$1000 (for a whole set)  depending on the quality you are looking for.

Electronics Problems

Often, these pesky lights are there to give us a headache, and the ones in the ford freestyle are not an exception. This is a good precursor; it lets us diagnose the problem before it becomes much bigger and more expensive to fix. 

Sometimes The Electronics Go Nuts After Starting

The alternators are known to cause problems after some time. They are prone to failure and start giving too much voltage to the system that causes these issues. The interior lights, radio, power windows, instrument cluster, etc., wouldn’t work, and the gears will not shift either. Changing gears from parking to reverse or first will give a thud, and the gear will not be changed; thus, the vehicle will not move.

This is not the battery issue; it’s the alternator that causes this particular problem. You can have the alternator changed, and this issue will no longer occur anymore.  

Engine Wouldn’t Start Sometimes Or Cut Off While Driving

When you face this issue, the vehicle won’t start, and when you give it like 15-20 minutes, it magically starts. It does that every 1 out of 18 times you start it. Another problem would be the staling in the middle of the road for no reason, and after giving it some time, it finally starts. When this is a particular issue, then you need to change the temperature sensor.

This problem mainly occurs due to the temperature sensor malfunction, and the engine sometimes might not even start during hot summer or cold winter, and in the rain. After changing the temperature sensor, the problem will likely go away. Make sure to change the temperature sensor before changing the coils or anything else. This sensor is about $20, and it’s the same in so many other Fords.

This issue is prevalent, and a lot of dealers themselves don’t know the cause. They will beat around the bush and change a few things here and here, and the problem will still not be fixed. Do yourself a favor and save your time and money; change this sensor first before going to these dealerships.