One forum member named GreatWhiteBuffalo from has posted three documents that he or she claims come directly from Ford, and that include the details of the fix. The first document, shown above, is addressed to Ford dealers, and describes the issue, stating:

In some of the affected vehicles, the cylinder head gasket may develop a coolant leak into the engine combustion chamber. A leaking cylinder head gasket may exhibit noticeable white smoke and/or low engine coolant level without an external leak.


It goes on, detailing what dealers are to do to remedy the issue, saying:

Dealers are to pressure test the cooling system and replace the cylinder head gasket. Based on test results, some vehicles may require a new cylinder head assembly. This service must be performed on all affected vehicles at no charge to the vehicle owner.


In addition, the document assigns a labor time of 9.2 hours to replacing the head gasket, and 10.3 hours to also exchange the cylinder head if the pressure test shows there are issues with the head. It also mentions the parts required to complete the fix:


Those parts include a head gasket kit with or without a cylinder head (depending on the results of a pressure test), engine oil, an oil filter, coolant, RTV, a gasket scraper and prep wipes to clean the metal surface for optimal sealing.


That document sent to dealers mentions that owners are to expect written notification this week. The document above appears to be that written notification.

It answers a number of questions, including how long the customer has to get the vehicle fixed (until Jan. 31, 2019), how long the repair takes (“less than two days” plus however much time it takes to get an appointment), and whether owners will get rental cars while their RS is in for repairs (they will.)


The final document describes the service procedure, starting with a list of tools needed:


It goes on, describing how the pressure test procedure works, saying:

1. Install a coolant pressure tester with adapter onto the degas bottle. Pressurize to 138 kPa (20 psi).

Once stabilized, pressure should hold at 138 kPa (20 psi) for a minimum of 5 hours.

- If pressure drop over 5 hours exceeds 27.57 kPa (4 psi), proceed to Step 2.

- If pressure drop is less than 27.57 kPa (4 psi), replace cylinder head gasket only, following the WSM procedures in Section 303-01D.

2. Remove the spark plugs following WSM procedures in Section 303-07D.

3. Using a bore scope, check for evidence of coolant in any of the cylinders.

- If coolant is found in any of the cylinders replace the cylinder head and gasket, following the WSM procedures in Section 303-01D.

- If coolant is not found in any of the cylinders, replace the cylinder head gasket only, following the WSM procedures in Section 303-01D.


Based on this description it seems that, if a customer brings in their Focus RS built between Aug. 3, 2015 and July 6, 2017, they will definitely have their head gasket replaced for free. Whether the vehicle’s engine gets a new lid, however, depends on whether the cooling system’s pressure drops more than 4 psi over five hours, and whether there’s coolant found in any of the cylinders.

If the pressure drops less than 4 psi over five hours, only the head gasket gets replaced. If the pressure drops more than 4 psi over five hours, and there’s no coolant found in the cylinders, only the head gasket gets replaced. Finally, if the pressure drops by more than 4 psi over five hours and there’s coolant in the cylinders—that’s when the head get swapped out.


I reached out to Ford for comment, and here’s what they sent me:

Owners of 2016-17 Focus RS vehicles are being offered a free inspection and repair, regardless of warranty or mileage status, for concerns of white exhaust smoke and/or coolant consumption stemming from an issue with cylinder head gaskets. Ford dealers will test the cooling system, replace the cylinder head gasket and may replace the cylinder head, as required, at no cost to the customer.


Good on Ford for issuing a free fix for customers, even if it took what seemed like an eternity.

h/t: Frank, Sam, Dallas, Craig