Here's Why Ford Extended The Warranty On The Fiesta And Focus
About three years ago, Ford recently began notifying the owners of 2012 through 2015 Ford Focus and Fiesta models that they will receive an extended warranty. This is due to the fact that the transmission clutch has a shuddering problem. The original powertrain warranty was for 5 years or 60,000 miles, while the extended warranty now covers 10 years or 150,000 miles.
The warranty covers the PowerShift 6-speed transmission, specifically the transmission’s software calibration, clutch, and input shaft seals. Ford is currently producing a revised clutch, new shaft seals, and a software update. They think the shudder issues are caused by leaking transmission seals.
As for those who’ve paid out of their own pocket for repairs to address the shudder issue, they may be able to get a refund through the Ford Customer Satisfaction program. This information should’ve been included in the notifications sent out by Ford.
Ford has enabled its dealers to provide free service to those whose cars are affected by the transmission shudder. We can also make a claim for unreimbursed warranty repairs to get you back to where you started before you even purchased the defective vehicle.
Chances are, if you complained to the dealer or to the company itself, you were told that everything was normal and there was nothing to be fixed. Why, then, did Ford change their tune and begin offering extended warranties and free service? And what does it mean for you, as an owner affected by the shudder issue?
Ford introduced this particular transmission in 2011, in both the Ford Focus and the Ford Fiesta. The transmission is known as a Dual Power Shift transmission (henceforth the DPS6). Initially, the transmission was described as automatic, and the company boasted that it made cars fun to drive and provided a smooth ride. A lot of other manufacturers have utilized the same technology in their transmissions as well. They may also increase the number of speeds in the newer transmissions. For example, Chrysler has a new transmission that has 8 speeds.
Why do manufacturers keep reconfiguring these transmissions? Why don’t they just stick with what works? The reason is Federal government standards keep changing for environmental concerns and fuel economy. This causes the manufacturers to change their components and products and often times along with change comes a defective product. Sometimes these products are “rushed to market” to meet Federal standards quickly and the result can be disastrous. One recent good example of this phenomenon was the Ford 6.0 liter engine designed and built by Navistar. The engine was rushed to market and had numerous problems. Ford was required to buyback thousands of vehicles. The bottom line is that the automobile market is constantly changing due to changing standards and consumer needs. Often, components that are a good design and operate smoothly have to be necessarily modified due to constantly changing government regulations and this can lead to defects and poor quality products.
Unfortunately, the Ford DPS6 doesn’t perform like an automatic transmission, and drivers quickly noticed that the vehicle would shudder or jerk when shifting. The issue was particularly pronounced when accelerating from a stop. When owners went to the dealerships, many performed repairs under the warranty, but these repairs didn’t resolve the issue.
To better understand the issue, it’s important to know that the DPS6 is in fact the combination of two manual transmissions joined together. Because of this, vehicles with the DPS6 have two clutches instead of one. The transmission is controlled by a computer, which shifts the gears as needed. So, the Ford Fiesta and Focus models are not actually automatic transmissions, they’re manual transmissions controlled by a computer.
When the early repair attempts were unsuccessful, Ford adopted a new approach. They notified their dealerships that the complaints they were receiving about the transmissions were in fact unnecessary. They claimed the vehicles were behaving normally, and the jerks and shudders were part of how the transmission was supposed to work. Of course, these issues were never considered normal when they were selling the car, just when customers had issues later.
In fact, many dealerships actually showed the documents they received from Ford to their customers, hoping to show that the vehicles were working normally. Plenty of dealers would not even include transmission issues on their repair orders, because they classified them as normal.
It is clear that Ford knew that the DPS6 had significant issues, but they did not change their marketing descriptions or the warranty for some time. In fact, they knowingly sold these vehicles while hiding the facts of the transmission issues.
This becomes apparent when you look at the TSBs Ford has issued over time. TSBs are advisories issued by car makers when they see new, common problems arise. They are circulated among dealerships and mechanics to enable them to solve common issues quickly.
In September of 2013, Ford released TSB 13-9-4, which described a clutch shudder and fluid leak in the DPS6. In March 2014, they released a new TSB that proposed a pinpoint test to determine whether the transmission had an issue. It is likely they created this test in order to maintain their position that most of these transmissions were operating normally.
And in July 2014, Ford released one further TSB regarding the DPS6. This one tweaked the description of the shudder issue.
It seems clear that Ford is attempting to paint the transmission issues as not being the result of a design defect. This is because the new vehicle warranty would cover design defects, and potentially cost Ford significantly more.
The transmission issues in the Ford Focus and Fiesta may very well be caused by design defects in the DPS6. Contact Lemon Law Associates today to learn about your options.
Lemon Law Associates Of California represents consumers who have California consumer vehicle claims regarding lemon law and auto fraud.
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