Did Ford Knowingly Launch Focus And Fiesta With Defective PowerShift Transmissions?

A comprehensive report published by The Detroit Free Press alleges that Ford knowingly launched Focus and Fiesta models in 2011 with defective transmissions.

The American car manufacturer has been hit with thousands of complaints relating to the PowerShift dual-clutch transmission of the Focus and Fiesta models, but declined to make an expensive change in order to resolve the issue.

The report reveals that some of the problems stemmed from the fact that Ford only decided to use a dual-clutch transmission late in the design of the two models and hadn’t previously offered such a gearbox in the U.S. market.

Also Read: Ford Says Focus is World’s Best-Selling Nameplate in First Nine Months of 2013

Engineers repeatedly warned Ford that the transmission was not ready, but the company pushed through with releasing the cars, knowing full well that issues persisted with the dual-clutch. Shortly after the cars launched, the complaints started to flood into the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The Detroit Free Press reports that no less than 4,300 complaints were made, many related to issues which saw the vehicles slip into neutral unexpectedly. For the following five years, the Blue Oval said it was trying to find a fix but refused to issue a recall and told dealerships to inform customers that the cars operated normally.

On March 24, 2017, a class-action lawsuit was filed against Ford addressing the complaints of 1.9 million current or former owners of 2012-2016 Focus and 2011-2016 Fiesta models built with Ford’s DCT. The automaker offered a settlement deal of $35 million, but in May, it was revealed that that settlement would be appealed because it was considered too favorable to Ford.

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  • Loquacious Borborygmus

    It certainly doesn’t look good.

    • db

      It hasn’t “been good” for the customers who purchased these cars either.
      Go figure….

      • Loquacious Borborygmus

        Figure what?

        • db

          Customers with a defective product = not looking for a company

          • Loquacious Borborygmus

            I’m being dense obviously, but I’m still not understanding what you’re writing.

          • db

            What we have here is a failure to communicate…

          • Loquacious Borborygmus


          • db

            Oops, I left out the word “good” in my previous comment.

            My bad.

      • Loquacious Borborygmus

        No it has not. I meant reputationally , Ford are down a hole.

    • ThatGuy

      Nope it does not Loq. Ford has fallen since and been falling for many years. When the Ford Kuga, certain Ford KA’s and Certain FIesta’s(small number) and the Ford ranger too… burst into flames and the interior issues and the SportSh!t transmission capped off exactly the rogue co. Ford has become. I mean the Vauxhall had the Zafira that burst into flames, one isolated unit from Vauxhall, but 4 models from Ford is disgusting and it killed people all over the world.

      Ford thanks, but no thanks ever. Keep you blue infirno to yourself thank.

  • Aqua Boogie

    If true, Ford chose the right partner for co-maker ship in the future. The worst thing to buy nowadays is a European car. Made for expensive maintenance after the warranty. All of them. Including the premium brands. For the record: I am a European, drove 40 cars including BMW, Audi, VW, Alfa Romeo, Renault, Peugeot, Mercedes and Volvo. Best thing that happened to me was Honda (owned 4). Next best thing to come, a South-Korean car. PHEV or all-electric. In their 40 years of presence here, they developed from cheap and unreliable to up-to-date, with a high build quality and good design. And they are not done doing that, I expect.

    • Sovereignty

      You’re absolutely right. Hyundai and Kia have swifty overtook the competition here in the UK and are outselling established manufacturer like Renault, Citroen, Peugeot and SEAT. The great thing is, there cars continue to get better year-on-year, so the best is yet to come.

      • Aqua Boogie

        We agree. Seems exceptional these days. Pity “you lot” are leaving “us”. We’ll meet again :)?

        • Sovereignty

          I have no idea what you mean.

          • Aqua Boogie


      • ThatGuy

        Not a Hyundai fan, but this is hardcore true. They a beating out everyone and are knocking at the VW door now.

        • Sovereignty

          It’s the Kia Stinger GTS and the Hyundai i30N that got my attention.

          • ThatGuy

            Yes i might not be a big fan, but the I30N Sport is an amazing car.
            That is on i would go out and buy.

    • StrangerGP

      (Current) Honda isn’t that great either, let’s not forget about the Civic Type-R transmission disaster which hasn’t been resolved in the current gen model and which is being ignored by Honda leaving the owners to go to court or pay huge repair bills.

  • Sovereignty

    My mate and I owned a Focus and Fiesta around 2004. Both cars were five years old and suffered from terrible rust issues in exactly the same places. Coincidence? Hardly. Ford seems to happily cut corners wherever they can. It certainly wouldn’t surprise me if Ford did this knowingly. No wonder they partnered with the Volkswagen fraudsters.

    • Matt

      But yet when Ford owned Jaguar they turned them into very dependable, reliable cars that always sat near the top of JD Power surveys.

      • TheBelltower

        Jaguar? Dude… Are you joking?

      • PhilMcGraw

        Jaguar under Ford produced the X-Type which was by far the worst vehicle they have ever produced.

        • Matt

          The X-Type wasn’t bad per se, it’s just that it was too much a Mondeo for everyone’s liking. The Mondeo at the time had the best ride/handling in the segment.

        • Alduin

          Volvo was also a disaster under Fords ownership.

    • db

      Yes some areas are more prone to rust than others for example I know the bottom of the tailgates were prone to rust on the Escape of the same era yet when I had mine, a weekly wash and voila` – no rust showed up in the twelve years I owned it.

  • Rasta_Farian


  • designer_dick

    Whenever a question arises about a large American company cutting corners or engaging in corporate malfeasance to increase their bottom line, the answer to that question is undoubtedly yes.

    • HaltestelleLuitpolthafen

      “Whenever a question arises about a large Chinese company cutting corners or engaging in corporate malfeasance to increase their bottom line, the answer to that question is undoubtedly yes.”



    • Galaxium

      DCTs are also for improved fuel efficiency.


        • Loquacious Borborygmus

          The thing is that DCT tend to have been purposed to lower the emissions to pass the increasingly stringent EURO tests.
          Emissions and fuel consumption are related.

        • ThatGuy

          Or if the clutch packs overheat and leave you stranded, then you save fuel too, win/win for Ford.

  • db

    As a (mostly satisfied) Ford customer for thirty years (among others), I’ve always like the Ford brand however in this type of incidence, I think Ford should be hit over the head – hard.
    This type of management has to be punished severely.

    Whether it was Mark Fields or Alan Mulally who both walked away from Ford with extremely generous packages, the scales of justice need some rebalancing here.

    • Alduin

      Jim Hackett will be Fords death. That guy is a clueless idiot.

  • Paul

    Is the caca about to hit the fan then?

    • ThatGuy

      Why yes, yes it is, Diesel Gate and now SportSh!t Gate about to call the fat lady.

  • Alduin

    Yes. The only Ford thats good is the F-150. Their other vehicles are trash. Other than that Ford sucks as does Chevy. The Corvette is awesome though.

  • Joe Pucci

    I have a 2013 Focus SE with 50k on the clock. I’ve never had an issue with the way the transmission shifts, that being said, does it shift and perform differently than other automatic transmission, absolutely. At low speed it is very noticeable, if you are feathering the gas pedal in can feel the clutch engaging and disengaging, just like you had a standard shift and were lugging the vehicle at low speed.

    I normally drive a manual shift, and to be honest, I’m not a feather the clutch kind of guy, so I’m happy that my Focus shifts the gears the way I do, harsh and unforgiving, if it was up to me I turn up the abruptness a notch, but I could understand people not enjoying that feature or least having the option to soften the shift response.

  • Justin Spencer

    Transmission issues are really nothing new for small Ford Cars…..Escort, Tempo, Contour as well was earlier generation Focus models. I’d buy a Ford Truck and definitely a Mustang but FORGET IT when it comes to their small FWD-based models. There have been reliable examples but pretty much all of them end up to be garbage!

  • Tim

    After 100,000 miles, my 2012 Focus bought second hand at 10,000 miles has been amazingly boring. At 50,000 miles it was a little “jerky”, so I took it out and ran it through the gears, hard. Several times. Since then, flawless. Changed the tranny fluid myself about a month ago. Looked pristine. Other than that, plugs, oil changes and an air filter. Great car. Love driving it. Carpet fibers are hard to get dirt out of. Paint still bears the scars of automated rental fleet car wash. That’s it.

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