John Evans is a long-time motoring journalist and editor from titles such as What Car?, AutoCar and Practical Caravan.
Often referred to as the backbone of Britain, the Ford Transit has been around in many forms since its UK launch in 1965. The version under the spotlight here is the facelifted, third-generation model (2006-2013).
With the changes (restyled body and interior with the gearlever mounted on the dashboard) came a new 2.2 diesel engine with high-pressure common rail fuel injection (TDCi), and in three power outputs.
A 2.4 TDCi diesel engine, reserved for rear-wheel drive versions, also arrived, again in three power outputs, while the 3.2 TDCi 200 was launched in 2007.
In 2008, the 2.2 TDCi 115PS front-wheel drive version was launched with a transaxle. In the same year, a diesel particulate filter (DPF) was offered as an option.
While this guide goes into detail about major faults identified during the vehicle’s life, it’s worth remembering that as a commercial vehicle, a used Transit will have seen a lot of hard use and neglect. Full service history would be good to see but is unlikely.
The best you can hope for is evidence of oil and filter changes (ideally synthetic oil) every 12 months, or 10,000 to 15,000 miles.
Common problems with Ford Transit diesel models
By the time they arrived, later versions of the Mk 3 Transit were cured of the common rail injection issues that had plagued earlier models. That said, these later versions could suffer fuel contamination of the optional PDF.
Recurrent problems detailed below include a noise from the front, diagnosed as a damaged drive shaft centre bearing.
Meanwhile, recalls were legion and ranged from loss of steering control to, where one was fitted, sudden operation of the tipper bed. For more on official safety recalls, check the DVSA recall website here.
Major vehicle areas
DPF contamination a recurrent issue with 2.2 TDCi engines from 2008 onwards. Engine oil becomes contaminated with fuel, forcing the oil level to rise. Low-grade fuel and diesel with more than 5% biodiesel content the culprit.
Occasional faulty EGR (exhaust gas recirculation) valve and faulty fuel flow solenoid valve on 2.2 TDCi 110, leading to black smoke and lumpy idling.
Faulty engine cooling fan also an issue on 2.2 TDCi 130 (2007-11 models). The 2.4 TDCi (100, 115 and 140) could suffer coolant loss as a consequence of a damaged hose from the coolant pump to the EGR.
Early versions of the 2.4 TDCi 140 could also experience power loss before going into limp home mode; the cause, faulty injectors. The 2.2 TDCi 115 of 06-11 suffered a fluctuating idle speed with no fault codes, also because of faulty injectors.
A knocking noise and difficult engine start on the 2.4 TDCi 140 of 06-10 was a faulty fuel flow regulator. Meanwhile, vibration and noise on the 3.2 TDCi 200 could be a worn crankshaft pulley bearing.
At all ages and with all engines, if the engine hunts at idle or stalls, check the fuel vapour valve.
On many versions there was a recall for possible driveshaft detachment. Possible explanations are: excessive play between the front wheel hub assembly and the drive shaft; or excessive play between the rear wheel hub assembly and the drive shaft with the result that the drive shaft retaining clip detaches, followed by gradual drive shaft detachment.
The solution is a modified driveshaft retaining clip. Rear-wheel-drive models have a reputation for getting through propshaft bearings.
Steering and suspension
Again, problems here are common to most versions and were the subject of recall campaigns. They include detachment of the steering wheel (check centre hub casting), power steering failure (pump drive belts delaminate) and loss of steering control caused by a production fault concerning incorrectly tightened front suspension lower arm bolts plus possible bolt failure resulting in the arm partially detaching from the subframe.
Once again, the following problems were common to most versions and were the subject of recall campaigns. They include: brake pedal retaining clip detaches (fit improved ‘R’ clip); reduced braking assistance (the rear brake pipe bracket to axle securing bolt may fail resulting in a loss of brake fluid).
In addition, the 2.4 TDCi 115 can suffer a non-recall issue concerning brake pad replacement. The warning light can come on because the pad wear indicator has not been initialised.
Exterior and interior
A grinding noise from the front of the vehicle that affected most vehicles was a damaged drive shaft centre bearing, fixed with a good clean and fitment of a new part.
More alarming was a recall concerning sudden activation of the tipper bed where fitted (renew the power system module), and an incorrectly tightened front seat belt outer fixing.
The only problem recorded here is the remote key battery rapidly going flat. Bizarrely, this problem persisted throughout the model’s life. The solution is to renew the button cell, making sure the positive side is facing upwards.