Survival Guide: Ford Ka
Sourcing new and used parts.
It has been 10 years since the original Ford Ka was given a makeover. Despite boasting elements of Ford’s Kinetic Design ethos, the MKII never stirred the emotions in the same way as its predecessor. That said, it has still got plenty going for it – not least the fact that, having been largely overlooked in the hotly-contested small car class, it’s now an attractive buy on the used market. Indeed, as little as £2000 will be enough to get behind the wheel of a fuelsipping, relatively well-specced early 1.2.
The first MKIIS appeared in late 2008 and went on sale a year later. It was offered with two engine options: the 1.2 petrol or 73bhp 1.3 TDCI. Cars were built at Fiat’s factory in Poland, so it’s no surprise that both powerplants and much of the running gear was inherited from the Fiat Panda and 500.
The trim levels were Studio, Style, Style+, Edge, Zetec and the rangetopping Titanium. Equipment levels were sufficient for most buyers, with all cars apart from the poverty-spec Studio coming with front airbags, ABS and remote central locking as standard.
Its Euro NCAP four-star safety rating was particularly impressive and a significant advance on the original Ka. Meanwhile, Grand Prix, Digital and Tattoo trim packages afforded customers an element of personalisation.
The MKII remained virtually unchanged visually throughout its six-year production life, before being replaced in 2016 by the all-new third-generation Ka+.
The cambelt change interval is 72,000 miles on the petrol version and there’s a timing chain on the diesel. In our opinion, the lively and frugal 1.2 is the best choice, although watch for hesitation at low speeds – something that can usually be remedied by a software upgrade. The petrol breather pipes can split, leading to fumes in the cabin, but it’s a relatively easy fix. However, be careful when removing the airbox as the second, smaller breather
pipe on the rear is rather fragile.
Though offering lots of torque and close to 70mpg, the diesel is plagued by diesel particulate filter (DPF) issues, especially if used for stop-start urban trips which won’t promote the regeneration process. You will notice a dash warning light or the car will go into ‘limp-home’ mode when the filter gets clogged. Software can be sometimes be used to force a regeneration to clear any fault codes, but if this doesn’t work then a replacement DPF will be required.
The official oil and filter change interval is every 18,000 miles/two years on the diesel, but it’s best to do it much sooner; as with all engines with a DPF, it needs a top quality 5W-40 engine oil. Failed injectors and injector seal issues can also be a problem.
Engine component prices OIL FILTER Main dealer £13.18 Independent from £8.89 CAMBELT Main dealer £30.16 Independent from £18.99 DPF Main dealer £1158.00 Independent from £229.99
There was a recall issued regarding bolts on the rear brake backplates, so check this has been carried out. Otherwise, there are no real brake issues worthy of mention. However, it’s important to inspect the inner face of the front discs as excessive wear can easily go unnoticed. As you can see from our price comparison, brake parts aren’t expensive, but it still pays to shop around. Brake component prices FRONT BRAKE DISCS (PAIR) Main dealer £130.18 Independent from £52.98
FRONT BRAKE PADS Main dealer £50.40 Independent from £33.99 sell the complete bar, not just the bushes. Front lower balljoints seem to wear quickly on the Ka, in which case you will need to fit a new arm.
The Ka’s electronic power steering has been known to fail, so if it feels stiff or the assistance is intermittent then suspect the worst. Steering/suspension component prices FRONT LOWER WISHBONE ARM Main dealer £135.46 Independent from £60.00
POWER STEERING RACK Main dealer £649.20 Independent from £194.99 chafe and cause issues with the locking mechanism and the rear wiper.
Finally, it may sound silly, but check that the wiper blades don’t clash. This was a particular foible with the MKII, but hopefully most mechanisms will have been modified so the wipers now miss each other. Other component prices POLLEN FILTER Main dealer £20.22 Independent from £15.49
Knocks from worn front droplinks and top strut mounts as you negotiate lowered kerbs or speed bumps are a common complaint from MKII owners. Water can also sit in the top of the mounts, causing them to rust, and if this happens there will be a creaking sound at low speed. Unwanted knocks could also be from worn anti-roll bar bushes, but main dealers only
Water ingress in the Ka’s cabin can be due to a blocked plenum chamber or clogged pollen filter, so look here first if you notice a puddle in the front footwells or detect a musty smell inside.
There have been reports of minor electrical niggles ranging from chafed wiring to faulty ECUS and nonfunctioning remote locking. Spurious airbag warning lights have also been reported. Wiring into the hatch can also
The 1.2 petrol engine is frugal, nippy and likely to be less bothersome than the diesel.
The entry-level Studio model is sparse, so aim for one of the higher-specced editions.