By on June 9, 2010

Jim writes:

I had a transmission problem with my Fusion. Dealer tells me lots and lots of people are having the problem, and parts are backordered. It appears 2010 Fusions being sold today have defective transmissions. Ford has a TSB on the issue to dealers. People claim transmission leaves them stranded on freeway. Search Fusion Transmission Problems on Google and you will see. I think someone in the media needs to do a story on this.

Sajeev Answers:

Kinda like farting in church, commentary on vehicle recalls (or TSBs) is tough scenario for automotive journalists.  Not because of the parasitic relationship between journalists and manufacturers, since there’s never been a Shelby GT500 press car in my driveway. Ever. So what’s my problem?

Reporting on a TSB requires a journalist to stick their neck out, making less-than-educated guesses on the problem and its subsequent outcomes.  Which means I could be wrong. Or misleading.  I don’t have access to the facts: automatic transmissions have so many variables that it’s almost impossible to find the truth. And the truth often changes between vehicles because of road conditions, driving habits, and ongoing production changes during assembly. Which sucks, but nobody’s perfect: just ask owners of 2000-ish model Honda Accords (V6) and Toyota Camrys (V6, 6-speed auto) who faced the same challenges as their brothers/sisters in Fusions and Milans.

I’ll stop covering my ass now, and try to answer this concern: parts will always be backordered because today’s lean production strategies take forever to crank out a replacement part.  Inventory is a dirty word, people. And the manufacturer can sometimes (always?) underestimate the scope of the problem, making the wait time even worse.  Odds are a decent fix is in the works.  And most owners will remain happy, because they will not keep their car longer than 100,000 miles.  After that, who knows just how bad the current transmission problem shortens the unit’s lifespan. And when the odometer travels that far, these TSBs will be but a distant memory everywhere: including the Internet.

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42 Comments on “Piston Slap: De-fusing The Fusion’s TSB Dilemma...”


  • avatar
    Z71_Silvy

    Ford quality for ya.

    • 0 avatar
      stationwagon

      Why are you a GM fanboy? Many automakers make good and crappy cars, but GM heavily leaned to crappy.

    • 0 avatar
      TEXN3

      Yes wagon.

      This may be the 6-speed transaxle that both GM and Ford co-developed and are using in a multitude of cars and crossovers. However, I’m not certain.

    • 0 avatar
      stationwagon

      one thing that I don’t understand is how a component of a car can fail on one make of a car and not on another. For instance GM had a problem with the transmission on the 2010 Camaro ss, but Dodge Challenger has had no issues(I’m only referring to six-speed manual transmissions) even though they both use the tr6060 manufactured by Tremec, is Tremec making only bad units for GM or do GM and Dodge make something based off the tr6060, in which case it really isn’t owned or made by Tremec. Sorry if the question might sound stupid I don’t know a lot about car manufacturing.

    • 0 avatar
      toxicroach

      stationwagon— iirc, the problem wasn’t defective transmissions so much as that the transmission really shouldn’t have been put in such a powerful car. Just underpowered, and since the Charger is a much less powerful car than the Camaro SS, it didn’t develop the same problems.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      I don’t think the Camaro’s problem was the transmission; I think it was the driveshaft.

    • 0 avatar
      mtymsi

      Z71 Silvy is it safe for you to crawl out from under your rock now that all the May sales threads are past showing how Ford outsold Chevrolet in segment after segment?

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      umm…the TR-6060 is the same unit used in the Viper, so I think it’s plenty capable of handling whatever the Camaro SS can throw at it. Also note that not all TR-6060s are created equal – there are subtle changes to the internals that Tremec can make to suit each application and save the customer money – i.e. ball bearings vs. needle bearings, etc. My suspicion is that GM asked for some changes to downspec the unit from it’s most robust configuration to save a few bucks and they went a little too far. Dodge on the other hand charges a premium for the manual (around $1,000) and probably orders the same units as they use in the Viper to save part complexity.

    • 0 avatar
      Z71_Silvy

      “Z71 Silvy is it safe for you to crawl out from under your rock now that all the May sales threads are past showing how Ford outsold Chevrolet in segment after segment?”

      Fleet dumping will do that…(Ford was 37% fleet for the month)

    • 0 avatar
      gsnfan

      http://townhall-talk.edmunds.com/direct/view/.f0ab322/0

      And don’t tell me GM sells fewer fleet models than Ford.

      http://www.autonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100602/RETAIL01/100609951/1448

  • avatar
    65corvair

    ’03 and ’04 Toyota Matrix 5 speed manual transmission is another bad transmission. There just aren’t many out there, but if you own one, it has or will happen to you. Google that one too. It happened to mine. Cost just under $3000 on a car worth around $4000. Every car company has a few bugs in their line.

  • avatar
    NN

    I stated before and will do so again…the push for better fuel economy and more techy transmissions means transmission shops are going to be real busy for years to come. It seems for a decade we were stuck on two options on the majority of vehicles: 4 speed automatic or 5 speed manual. Now, we’ve got CVT’s, DSG’s, and 5-6-7-8 speed automatics. Most transmissions in modern cars have only been in production for a couple of years. Automakers are literally experimenting with your dollar on the durability of these.

    For example, you can get an old-school 4 speed auto in a base Chevy Malibu, or opt for the 1LT and get the new 6-speed (produced by Daewoo, nonetheless). For bragging rights, and extra mpg, and perceived sense of higher technology I’m sure 99% of people consider the 6 speed the better option. But I’m willing to bet the 4-speed will outlast it and have much better durability, something to consider for anyone not simply leasing.

    • 0 avatar
      educatordan

      That’s something I’ve wondered about too. GM will often have the same engine in a multitude of vehicles but different transmissions based on the application. I’ve driven both an Impala and a newer Malibu with the 3.5V6 and 4speed auto in the Impala and 6speed auto in the Malibu. The 6speed is very well matched in the Malibu and in the Impala you could tell that the ratios were very widely spaced in an effort to balance fuel economy and drive-ability. Now if I had to guess which one would be more durable with the minimal maintenance that most people want to do, I’d say the 4speed. But I have come to the conclusion that with the new automatics you ought to follow the “severe duty” maintenance schedule regardless of your driving habits. That and install an external cooler if it doesn’t have one.

  • avatar
    NulloModo

    As cars get more and more complicated there will occasionally be problems. The Fusion transmission issue is only effecting a very small number of cars, and it is mainly earlier builds.

    The thing to focus on here is that Ford isn’t trying to sweep the problem under the rug, they are addressing the issue with customers, sending out letters, and fixing all of the cars quickly, and of course free of charge.

    • 0 avatar
      Z71_Silvy

      They sure trying to sweep this under the rug…notice how they are avoiding the “R” word???

      Hell, Ford would be just fine sending the mediocre Fusion/Milan hybrid out for sale with a defective braking system had Consumer Reports not called them on it…three months AFTER they fixed the problem at the factory…

      But then, that’s Ford’s M.O….ignore the problem, skirt the issue and only help the consumer when their arm is twisted.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      I am guessing the R word is recall? Ford is already sending out letters to owners who haven’t been effected offering a free proactive transmission fix. It isn’t trying to sweep anything under the rug when it’s a problem only impacting a very very small number of owners, it isn’t a big story because there aren’t enough people having this problem for it to be a big story.

      Also, from what most are saying on the enthusiast forums, the fix takes 15 – 20 minutes worth of work at the dealership, so I’m guessing this isn’t some deep rooted design flaw, probably just a minor connection or joint or something that can unfortunately have a detrimental effect on the whole
      system if it fails.

      Also, by your own admission, Ford has fixed the problem with the hybrids three months prior, so obviously they weren’t ignoring it. Also, the brakes didn’t fail, the pedal would just feel as if they had for a moment, the cars still stopped just fine, so it wasn’t a safety issue.

  • avatar
    talkstoanimals

    Not surpised. At 4 months and 3,294 miles after purchase, my 2010 Mustang GT became difficult to shift. After 14 DAYS! at the dealer, the problem was finally attributed to a leaky slave cylinder, a malfunctioning pressure plate and “hot spots” on the clutch disc. With a new slave cyclinder, new pressure plate and resurfaced disc, the shifting is again smooth. But now clutch takeup from a stop often evinces a slight shudder from the clutch. Why should the Fusion be any different when it comes to transmission quality?

    I have sent Ford a letter and several emails about the issue, and they have not given me the favor of a reply. This was my first Ford purchase (indeed, my first domestic brand); I’m less than impressed to say the least. Ford’s vaunted turnaround my backside. If they don’t care about the satisfaction of a “foreign brand conquest” customer, who do they care about?

    • 0 avatar

      Sounds like someone abused that transmission pretty nicely before you got your hands on it! I’d start raising hell at the dealership involved.

    • 0 avatar
      talkstoanimals

      Sajeev, I don’t think there was opportunity for someone to have abused the clutch before I took delivery – it had essentially zero miles on it. I think it had 11 miles on the odo at delivery. And I certainly haven’t abused it. I did raise hell with the dealer and they gave me the loaner car for free (as opposed to the normal $10/day). According to the dealer, the fault for a 14 day siesta lies with Ford, though the explanation didn’t make much sense. I was also pleasantly surprised to find the dealer had detailed my car when I got it back. Oh, wait – no, it was filthy when they gave it back.

      My communications with, or rather, to, Ford have been through the General Counsel’s office. If anyone knows of a better contact, I’d love to know who it might be.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      Sometimes cars are broken from the factory, it happens to all brands. Mustangs in general have a nearly flawless reliability record, so you were just unlucky. Toyota, Honda, and Nissan factories put out cars with problems just as often as any domestic company.

      Again, the important thing is that the dealer addressed the situation and fixed it, and now it works right. If you are still noticing something that feels off, take it back and have them address that, but it sounds like the warranty process worked pretty much like it is supposed to for you.

    • 0 avatar
      mhadi

      That’s little consolation for the owner of the Mustang. People will accept the fact that faults exist, machines break, etc, but people will not forget customer service. Ford (and it’s dealer) act like the typical large American corporation that does not care about keeping a customer.

      Incidentally, I have not seen these catastrophic failures on European cars, but they are common on American cars. Cheaper designed parts.

    • 0 avatar
      talkstoanimals

      NulloModo,

      14 days to effect a fix is completely unreasonable. That’s halfway to the lemon law in VA for one service visit. And to have to take it back again after 14 days already out of service? Now we’re in the realm of the absurd.

      I agree that things break on all makes of cars. But never in my experience with any other make has 14 days to turn around the fix been considered normal. Three days out of service and they’re apologizing profusely for the delay and at the least you’re getting the car back nicely washed and primped.

      When it’s functioning, I still love the car. It looks great, sounds great and drives well. But Ford and the dealer have come across as if they just don’t give a damn about their customer. And that’s how you lose the customer. Other manufacturers also make great cars, and in my experience most of them also care whether or not they earn your business again.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      mhadi – If you haven’t seen them on European cars you should talk to some VW owners.

      Also, how was this mishandled by the dealer? The problem was fixed. Yes, the owner says he feels some shudder under certain conditions, and I would like to give him the benefit of the doubt, but he also only had the car for two weeks, so it could be that he is feeling the natural operation of that clutch and he just never noticed it until he started looking for it with hyper-vigilance post-repair.

      In fact, the dealer went out of their way to give him a free rental car which they are not in any way obligated to do. From his comments it looks like he went in pissed off even though the dealer did nothing wrong, they still helped him and went above and beyond, and now he is bitching because they didn’t detail his car.

      Boo-hoo, the warranty will cover repairs, if you bring it in filthy, it will still be filthy when you pick it up, who the hell expects a free detail when you bring your car in for warranty work?

      Maybe you get service like that when you buy a Mercedes or a BMW, but you also pay out the ass for the car and for that service. Lincoln owners do, by the way, automatically get free loaner cars when their vehicle is in for service.

    • 0 avatar
      talkstoanimals

      NolloModo, I think you are operating under a misunderstanding. I had owned the car for a lttle under 4 months when the problem appeared. The DEALER had the car for 14 days to fix it. I did not go in angry. In fact, I didn’t start really getting angry until roughly day 7, when I kept getting non-committal answers about 1) what was wrong with the car, and 2) when I would get it back. And no, the car was not filthy when I took it in. It got filthy sitting on the dealer’s lot for two weeks.

      Oh, and I’ve owned 2 VWs. Nothing even close to this has happened with any of my VWs.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      talkstoanimals –

      Regarding the VWs, it just goes to show everyone’s experiences are different. Googling around a bit you hear many many more horror stories of VW problems and service issues than you do Ford.

      I must have misread about the four months vs. 14 days, however I just took it from your post where you said you raised hell with the dealer to take it that you came in pissed off.

      As far as your statements go though, it’s hardly Ford’s fault that the dealer took so long to get you an answer and to fix the issue. I agree that 7 days is entirely too long to go without even hearing what is wrong with the car, and it shouldn’t take two weeks to fix what they said the problem was. However, again, that is that dealer’s issue, and it’s hardly fair to take issue with Ford in general over it. There are just as many (if not more) crappy Toyota dealers out there as domestic.

      Again, it’s a bit of a cheap shot to say that your experience means that Fords have poor transmission quality overall. Yes, you got one that had a problem, and that is unfortunate, and the dealer could have handled the situation better, but at the end of the day, the car was fixed and you were given something to drive in the interim, all things considered, it could have been a lot worse.

      Finally, the apparent feeling that you should somehow receive special treatment because you were a foreign brand conquest would rub a lot of people the wrong way. Everyone is entitled to fair treatment with their service and warranty whether it’s their first Ford or their tenth. Actually, I’d say the owner who has shown loyalty in the past might even deserve a bit more concession.

    • 0 avatar
      talkstoanimals

      I really don’t want to belabor this argument, but I will respond to your points as best I can.

      1) I don’t expect “special treatment” because I came to Ford from foreign brands. I expect adequate quality in the product and something approaching customer service. I have gotten all of those things with my previous cars. When Ford (and GM and Chrysler) are fighting to overcome “the perception gap,” which you have to admit they are trying to do, I would expect them to deliver. Ford’s argument is that they are now just as good or better than their competition. Well, there’s the old saw, show me, don’t tell me. So far, what I’ve been shown is that Ford and its dealer are not meeting the standards I’ve come to expect from their competition.

      2) The customer’s experience of a car brand is almost exclusively gained through interaction with its dealers. In any event, as noted, the dealer repeatedly blamed Ford’s supply chain for the long delay in fixing the car. In the absence of reliable information about the facts, I reached out to Ford several times for an explanation. Ford was not so kind as to respond.

      3) point taken re: drawing comparisons between the Fusion’s purported transmission problems and those of my own car. But you can bet I’m being fair in relating my experience with Ford’s customer service the next time someone asks me, as they often do, if they should buy a Fusion or an Accord or Camry.

      4) There’s no answering your “more VW than Ford complaints on the Internet” point, as it’s not quantifiable short of performing some large study.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      Not to split hairs, but it sounds like you don’t have a transmission problem, you have a clutch problem – yes they are related to one another, but they are two completely different subsytems.

      I don’t know much about modern-era Fords, but a lot of newer cars have a domed flywheel which helps promote smooth clutch engagement – the problem with domed flywheels is that you cannot resurface them properly…if they are damaged with hot spots and/or cracks, they must be replaced or the problem will simply return – this may be what has happened here based on your description. It would be worth joining a Mustang forum and inquiring if you car has a domed flywheel or not. If it does have a domed flywheel and the dealer resurfaced it to a flat surface, this can cause clutch engagement issues.

      Another possibility is a dual-mass flywheel which is intended to improve driveline NVH. When these fail (and they seem to fail rather easily in my experience) they can sometimes cause shuddering as well.

    • 0 avatar
      Toad

      talkstoanimals: When you say you are talking to the General Counsel’s office, do you mean you are talking to their lawyers? If that is the case you probably made a bad mistake.

      When I worked in sales for truck manufacturer, we bent over backwards to try to make a customer happy, but…if the customer ever said the words “lawyer” or “sue” we were to cease all communication immediately and direct them to our the corporate legal office. No more help, no more communication on the local level, nothing. And there was no walking back on the customers part. Saying sue or lawyer was like tossing a verbal grenade that destroyed any hope of out of court help. They were on their own, and not remotely likely to get any kind of satisfaction.

      On some level it was sad to see somebody who had a legit complaint that we could have solved say the wrong words and doom himself to no help at all and litigation that no lawyer would tackle and that he probably could not win. On the other hand it was nice to see some pompous jerks threaten to sue your ass, then beg to retract their words when they were taken up on their offer.

      In summary, stay away from the lawyers. They can’t fix your car, don’t want to help you, and will drag the issue out forever. Good luck, I think you may need it.

    • 0 avatar
      talkstoanimals

      Toad,

      I started with Ford’s GC’s office because I know who and where the GC is (I had no idea at the time who else should be contacted). Also, having grown up the son of of someone who worked in the GC’s office of a large, publicly traded company it’s been my experience that those in the GC’s office tend to be fairly reasonable people. I certainly didn’t threaten to sue or to hire a lawyer. I asked them to look into the truth about what was going on, ensure that the dealer didn’t have my car in for even longer than it had already taken, and to give me some assurance that I hadn’t made a mistake giving Ford my business.

      As a postscript, last night I finally heard from someone in the GC’s office that my inquiries have been forwarded to another person within the organization. I’m hopeful that this will now move in a positive direction. As I’ve mentioned, I really do love the car, and I want Ford to succeed. Indeed, up until this whole affair, I was recommending Ford products to anyone who would listen. But this experience left a sour taste in my mouth. I’m hoping all will be cured when the dialog with Ford starts in earnest.

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      clutch “shuddering” usually indicates some problem with the friction surface between clutch plate and flywheel. Based on very long ago personal experience, I would guess that there’s some motor oil or hydraulic fluid on the flywheel surface. I my case — shocking as it seems — the fix was “burning” it off by slipping the clutch.

      Not that I’m recommending that in your case. Obviously, your dealer’s repair was incomplete . . . and he should finish the job.

      I’m not ready to condemn Ford clutches wholesale. I had one of the classic “5.0 liter” Mustang GTs (1987). Never had an issue with the clutch in 5 years of ownership. OTOH, the clutch in my Taurus SHO (1992) failed at 40k miles. What failed was the throw-out bearing, not the friction surface. After a bit of hassling with the Ford people, I got them to admit that “abused” clutches don’t experience throw-out bearing failures; they experience friction surface failures, which my car didn’t have. So, they picked up the repair. Some Internet research found that this was not an uncommon problem; apparently resulting from the fact that Ford used a clutch from a 4-cylinder Mazda pickup truck in the SHO.

  • avatar

    I am pretty sure TEXN3 is right. This is the Aisin tranny co-developed with GM, not a Ford unit. Its probably similar to the other transverse 6-speed Aisin units found in other cars, like VWs and Audis.

    Though making Ford junk tranny references aren’t unwelcome: the AXOD certainly comes to mind:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_AXOD_transmission#Reliability_issues

  • avatar
    eamiller

    Sajeev,
    One correction. The Aisin TF-60 6-speed Transmission has nothing to do with Ford or GM designs. That transmission is only used on the 3.5L V6 Sport model of Fusion (and previous gen Fusion V6).

    The Ford 6F35 and GM 6T70/75 is the co-developed 6-speed transmission used on quote a number of vehicles including the Fusion I-4 and 3.0V6.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Ford Taurus transmissions were trouble prone for at least a decade. Hopefully Ford hasn’t done it again.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Yet mine is 18 years old and had only on fluid change. 120K miles later it still works fine. First 11 years were all super short trip usage…lots of shifts per hundred miles…

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Some newer six speed automatic transmissions utilize softer metals to reduce machining costs and thinner, lighter gearsets shoehorned into four-speed housings, the latter apparently to avoid the expense of re-engineering vehicle platforms.

    Honda’s weight reduction efforts reportedly dramatically decreased durability resulting in widespread four and five-speed automatic transmission failures.

    JATCO manufactures both Nissan and Chrysler CVTs. Recent Nissan CVTs perform relatively well and are warrantied for 10-years or 200,000 kilometers. Chrysler units are apparently engineered to an inferior durability standard, reliability is reportedly poor and they have a much inferior warranty.

    • 0 avatar
      educatordan

      That reminds me of when my uncle worked for a steel plant in Ohio in the late 1990s. He was a quality control guy at the end of the line. A team from Chrysler came in, looked at their galvanized product and declared it good enough for their exterior panels on their vehicles. A team from Toyoda came in and looked at the same product and declared it only good enough for interior panels. Toyoda then handed them a list of specs for exterior quality steel that called for greater galvanization to stand up to the harshness of the environment. So same product, different specs depending on the company in question.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    Does anybody know which transmission, engine, and drive train combos are affected by this malady?

  • avatar
    mountainman

    I had an 06 Fusion 4cyl 5-spd that I got with 6,000 miles. Clutch burned out at 30,000. I figured it was beaten on, so I replaced it. Then, the clutch went out again at 48,000.

    My wife and I both drove manuals all our life, so we knew it wasn’t us. Fought with Ford over this, to no avail. Got the clutch fixed again, drove it off the lot right to a Subaru dealer. Our Impreza is riding nicely now.

    Last American car I will ever own.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Just underpowered, and since the Charger is a much less powerful car than the Camaro SS, it didn’t develop the same problems.

    I don’t think it is a power issue. The Challenger SRT8 makes similar power to the Camaro SS.

    Plus, IIRC, the CTS-V and GT500 use the TR6060 and both those cars make more power than the SS.
    ___
    My pulled out of the air guess is that the Camaro line just got a bad order of transmissions.


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