Sur­vival Guide: Ford Ka

Sourc­ing new and used parts.

Car Mechanics (UK) - - Contents -

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

Other is­sues

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.

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