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Ford S-Max Mk1 common problems (2005-2011)

Ford S-Max

The Ford S-Max was the first flexible family MPV that you could buy if how much you’d enjoy the journey was almost as much of a concern as how many people you could take along with you.

It was a truly sporty multi-purpose vehicle, so appealed not only to families but also active types who liked to get out into the countryside at weekends.

And now its age means it’s available for truly bargain prices. However, as we all know, with age comes wear and tear, the odd ache, and things that don’t work quite as they once did. The Ford S-Max (and its sister car the Ford Galaxy Mk2) are no exception, and suffer the odd irritating glitch here and there. But that’s where Haynes can help you keep your running costs to a minimum, because we can help you diagnose and repair those niggling problems yourself, which means you can skip all those annoying garages labour charges and spend them on fuel instead.

Ford S-Max

What recalls has the Ford S-Max been subject to?

There’s no denying that the S-Max was a fairly regular visitor to Ford workshops, certainly early on in its life. For a start, more than 4000 examples were recalled because the cylinder head could crack, allowing an oil leak in the engine bay, with a risk of fire.

Similarly, a fuel leak from the spill-off fuel rail could cause a fire, while a dodgy non-return valve in the brake vacuum pump could result in a stiff brake pedal, which was most noticeable during the engine warm-up phase.

An incorrectly tightened earth point of the heated windscreen caused another recall, while almost 220,000 examples were recalled because the driver’s airbag might not operate correctly in a shunt.

A faulty panoramic roof panel forced another recall, as did a faulty clutch pressure plate on 122,199 models witted with an EcoBoost engine and manual gearbox.

Later on, models with adaptive headlights were recalled because of a software fault that could cause them to switch off, and a potentially leaky battery forced 56,164 cars back to dealerships.

Ford S-Max Mk1

What common problems does the Ford S-Max Mk1 have?

Several owners of the Ford S-Max have reported cracking noise emanating from the front wheel bearing housing as they pull away, either in first gear or reverse.

Others have also reported that the power steering system in their S-Max becomes heavy or fails altogether.

The Ford S-Max is also prone to a loud booming noise being produced from its front end at high speeds.

And if your S-Max has a manual gearbox, then you need a clutch to be able to change gear. Unfortunately, this can fail.

Finally, if you’re driving along in your Ford S-Max and it starts to feel sluggish while pumping out lots of black smoke, then there’s a good chance the turbocharger has failed.

Ford S-Max Mk1

Why is your Ford S-Max Mk1 making a cracking noise?

Unfortunately, the Ford S-Max Mk1 can produce a creaking or cracking noise from its front axle as you pull away, and it doesn’t matter whether you’re going forwards or backwards.

The cause is a shortage of driveshaft spline sealant, and either driveshaft can be the source of the issue, so you’ll need to get a friend to listen carefully as you pull away next to them to identify which side has the problem.

However, the good news is that the procedure to replace the sealant is one that a DIY mechanic will be more than capable of completing without trouble.

Just raise the vehicle and set it on axle stands, then remove the wheel before following the procedure to pull out the driveshaft, clean it up and apply lubricant, before assembling everything once more, making sure that everything is tightened to the correct torque.

As ever, this procedure is covered in your Haynes S-Max manual, so don’t be afraid.

Ford S-Max Mk1

Heavy steering in your Ford S-Max Mk1?

MPVs are designed to be flexible and great at taking lots of people everywhere. However, if that destination is in the city, and your car’s power steering packs up, well all is decidedly unwell with the world.

This is a problem that the Ford S-Max can be prone to, and it’s caused by a build-up of contaminants in the power steering system, to the extent that the power steering fluid filter is clogged.

The solution is to check the system for leaks, then to replace the filter and power steering fluid, both tasks you’ll find in your Haynes S-Max manual. Just read up on what to do, buy the parts and you’ll have fully functioning power steering in short order.

If you want to know how to replace the front brake pads in your Ford S-Max Mk1, just watch our FREE video below.

Where is that booming noise coming from in your Ford S-Max?

Long journey ahead, so it’d be great if the kids could have a snooze. But as you exit the city limits and gather speed, your S-Max starts to produce a booming noise. Where on earth is that coming from? No one has a hope of sleeping, so you need to fix the issue as soon as you can.

The problem lies with the active radiator grille, which opens and closes to keep the car running as efficiently as possible. A gap can form between two panels at its upper side, which allows in high-speed air and sets up a resonance.

The solution is to remove the front bumper, then to glue the two panels together, before reassembling everything.

The procedures to remove and replace the bumper and the active grille are both contained in the Haynes S-Max manual, so you can sort the job quickly and easily.

Ford S-Max Mk1

Has the clutch failed in your Ford S-Max Mk1?

Driving along, suddenly to find that either you’re unable to depress the clutch pedal or that if you do manage to depress the pedal, it won’t return to its original position. Either way, you’ll be stranded, which is, well, depressing.

In this scenario, it’s the clutch plate that has failed. So, once you’ve got the S-Max back to a place where you can work on it, you’ll need to remove the broken clutch plate and replace it with a new one.

As ever, we’ve taken apart and reassembled the clutch on a Ford S-Max Mk1, so simply follow the procedure in your Haynes S-Max manual and you’ll soon have all gears available once more. So if you depress the pedal it’ll do what you want, which isn’t very depressing at all.

Ford S-Max Mk1

Does your Ford S-Max Mk1 have a turbo problem?

Smoking is bad for your – and it’s bad for your car, too. So when your Ford S-Max suddenly starts to belch smoke and has the performance of a 20-a-day smoker, then you know something is up.

The first thing to do is plug in a fault-code reader. If this displays the code P0299 then you’ll know the turbocharger is broken.

Replacement is the only solution, so you’ll need to gather together all your tools, get the spare bits and set to work, following the step-by-step guide in your Haynes S-Max manual. It’ll take a while but the amount you’ll save in garage bills will make it all worthwhile.