By on June 7, 2011

I designed TrueDelta’s Car Reliability Survey to provide information an average of ten months ahead of the established annual surveys. Early last December we shared with TTAC readers that Early data on the Ford Fiesta is not good.” Then, in early March, we stated about the 2011 Fiesta and the 2010 Taurus that Ford does not appear to have tested either model thoroughly enough.” The late February release on the TrueDelta site went a step farther, asking, “Is Ford slipping?” The answer last week from Ford: “Yes, but we’re going to fix it.”

The official Ford line, as conveyed through Automotive News: we’re being open about our “tech glitches” because, in the words of CEO Alan Mulally, “You can’t manage a secret.” But what is Ford trying to manage by being open about quality problems? Not the problems themselves—it’s possible to be open about problems inside a company without going to the press about them. Instead, they’re trying to manage something outside the company: public perceptions.

Why now? Because later this month J.D. Power will release its annual Initial Quality Survey (IQS) results, and Ford knows that its scores are going to be significantly worse than in the past. The reason stated in the Automotive News article: glitches in the new “MyFord Touch” touchscreen-based control system. Because the IQS combines usability problems and mechanical problems (something we’ve criticized the survey for in the past), a hard to use control system will harm a car’s score even if nothing is technically wrong with it. BMW’s scores have suffered ever since it introduced iDrive.

The article refers to Consumer Reports as well, and drew on their auto chief David Champion for a couple of quotes. But, in noting that CR dropped its recommendation for the Ford Edge “in part because of the controls,” the author doesn’t seem to realize that CR’s road test evaluations and its reliability survey are two entirely separate entities. While MyFord Touch might fail the former, it could very well have no impact on the latter.

What will have an impact on CR’s reliability survey results, which will be next be updated in October: the problems noted in TrueDelta’s survey, and that aren’t mentioned at all in the Automotive News article despite Ford’s “openness.” Things like the chrome finish flaking off the taillights on the Taurus and Fiestas that won’t start, whose fuel gauges don’t read correctly, or (in fewer but more serious cases) whose dual clutch automated manual transmissions fail. The Taurus problem is admittedly minor, but it nevertheless indicates a faulty product development process. Proper testing would have discovered that the finish would peel off the taillights in less than a year. Similarly, proper testing would have found that a poor ground would lead to no-starts in the Fiesta, and that the fuel gauges in the car were often failing to read correctly. If these common problems that appear early on were missed, what else has been missed?

These glitches aren’t entirely a new development. Earlier, the 2007 Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX suffered from very common failures to the seals of their AWD units, often multiple times with the same car—and this problem persisted for at least three model years. The 2008 Taurus has commonly had problems with its front struts. And the revision to the Fusion for 2010 created transmission driveability problems where none had existed before—and which have proven hard to fix. But the Fiesta has been the least reliable new Ford in some time, with multiple common problems (that have nothing to do with MyFord Touch). And as the first Ford of Europe car to be transplanted to North America under Mulally’s “One Ford” program it could presage problems with the 2012 Focus and upcoming Escape and Fusion replacements.

Someone within Ford is certainly aware of these other problems that have nothing to do with “tech glitches.” Mulally himself is likely aware of them; otherwise, he’s got an even bigger problem on his hands. If Mulally is aware of these problems, he realizes that they will impact the IQS this month and Consumer Reports survey results in the fall. But Ford’s professed openness didn’t extend to discussing these other problems with Automotive News. Instead, they focused on debugging MyFord Touch and installing new robots to improve the precision of panel fits. It’s not hard to imagine why. This way, when those poor scores come out, journalists and the broader public they inform might think that they’re due to buggy software and panel fits, and not anything more serious.

Ford might buy themselves a little time this way. But if they want to maintain the reputation for quality they worked so hard to achieve, they must address the true scope of the problem. Mo’ better robots aren’t going to do the trick now any more than they did for Roger Smith’s GM. Their product development process needs fixing.

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100 Comments on “Ford: Quality Is Job One… Again...”


  • avatar
    Philosophil

    It makes you wonder if they’re trying to rush product development to take advantage of the general market conditions (and the positive perceptions surrounding Ford, rightly or wrongly, after the ‘bailout’).

    • 0 avatar

      More likely they felt they had to rush new products to market to stay alive–remember that Ford’s survival was in doubt until fairly recently.

      • 0 avatar
        Robert.Walter

        And remember they had to do this after separating gobs of experienced development personnel in North America.

        In addition, in this environment, they had to redeploy persons outside of their area of specialization to accelerate these launches; I know of a 20+ year chassis technical specialist who was re-assigned to do interior systems supplier management.

        Surprises me to hear of flaking chrome … good lord, my dad had this on his 1st year 1979 LTD (“Panther Love Baby!”)… the rear license plate frame was a shoe-box sized affair mounted in the middle of the trunklid … within 6 months, the chrome plating had begun to crack along each of the corners (and got knife-like sharp), and not long after the material began to peel away in chunks (also sharp), leaving behind raw plastic… never saw that on another of these cars after the 1st year … so the problem was solved long-ago, in 1980; did this flaw skip a generation?

        In addition, Ford has a very developed series of SDS,ES,MS,and other corporate design standards … earlier, it was manditory for every engineering drawing to be reviewed, and approved, by one of Ford’s Material’s Engineers … has this changed?

        Re. testing: it is possible that testing was inappropriately designed, inadequate, changed, shortened in duration, or performed, with good initial results, on a restricted sample size which gave undeserved confidence (“restricted sample size” means “fewer samples”, and this is often done to save money, but more often done to speed-up a early launch, or recover time on a part that fell behind the development schedule – often due to problems with the design, or sometimes a late change in supplier ((recall, the NAAO-Fiesta was being federalized during the dark days of the Great Automotive Crisis, and there were several key 1-tier suppliers which went Ch.7 and Ch.11, and others which wobbled all over the place))).

        p.s. I sure hope Ford is not following the Rep. Anthony Wiener playbook.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Ford probably DID feel they needed to rush new products to market, not only to stay alive but also to capitalize on GM and Chrysler’s weakened position that otherwise would have benefitted foreign car manufacturers. In that I think Ford was right to do so. I have owned a lot of Ford, Lincoln and Mercury products over the past four decades, and all of them had things wrong with them. Many of them I was able to fix myself, others, like bad transmissions or failed electrical components I had to get repaired under warranty. Thus it does not surprise me that Ford continues to experience problems with its vehicles to this day. Just because some people rave about how great the new Ford Motor Company is does not take away from the real-world facts that many of their customers experience problems with their cars. Having experienced Ford maladies first hand, I am amazed that neither of my new foreign cars have had to go back to the dealer for any warranty work and that they have been problem-free since we took delivery. I’m a believer!

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      The sheer amount of new product that Ford has rolled out over the last few years is notable. I’m sure development was accelerated for some models, but even if it wasn’t, for any model, the first year is usually the one with the most issues.

      ’06 – The Fusion hits the streets based on a new (to Ford) platform built in a new factory
      ’07 – The Edge comes out with the new 3.5 liter V6
      ’08 – Sync is introduced the 500 is turned into the Taurus with styling changes and new powertrains, the Freestyle becomes the Taurus X, again with styling changes and a new powertrain, the Escape is facelifted, the Super Duty undergoes a major redesign with new interior and exterior styling as well as a brand new diesel engine
      ’09 – The F-150 is heavily revised with new exterior and interior styling, new navigation systems start to roll out in many models, the Flex is introduced, the Escape receives updated engines and transmissions
      ’10 – The Mustang is redesigned, the Fusion is facelifted and receives updated engines and transmissions, the Fusion Hybrid debuts, the Taurus is facelifted and the EcoBoost engine is introduced, the Transit Connect is introduced to the US market for the first time
      ’11 – The Mustang receives new engines and transmissions, the F-150 undergoes a complete powertrain redevelopment, the Fiesta is released built in a new factory on a brand new platform for the US with Ford’s first DSG gearbox, the Edge is facelifted, receives updated engines and transmissions, and MyFord Touch with new navigation systems is introduced, the Explorer is completely redesigned with new powertrains on a new platform, the Super Duty is facelifted with brand new diesel and gas engines and a brand new transmission, the Shelby GT500 gets a new version of 5.4 liter V8 which is all aluminum
      ’12 – The Focus is completely redesigned with updated engines and the second iteration of Ford’s DSG. The Explorer will get the first 2.0 liter EcoBoost 4 cylinder

      All of this is just what I can recall off the top of my head from the past few years, and it doesn’t even include all the moving and shaking in Lincoln. No other automaker has undergone such a complete lineup transformation in such a short amount of time, 2011 was an especially busy year, though Chrysler may come close with all they are doing right now. There’s also the current development of the new EUCD2 Fusion set for ’13, the C-Max, the Focus Electric, the all-new Escape for 2013 and a bunch of upcoming new Lincoln models.

      By and large most of these changes have gone by without a hitch. That probably doesn’t do anything for those who have had to bring their vehicle in for repairs, but even among those most of the issues have been pretty quick fixes and not endemic problems.

      I do believe the major lineup overhaul was necessary, as you need to have competitive product in order to bring customers into the showroom, and the greatest of the sins of Detroit in the past was letting product get stale instead of constantly updating and improving.

      Mulally’s announcement and comments show that Ford isn’t going to be satisfied simply letting some bugs fester until the dust clears though – fully expect to see issues that do pop up get jumped on quickly, as has been the case so far with the Fusion and Fiesta transmission shift feel issues (later Fiestas shift much more smoothly as has been reported by a number of reviewers and bloggers, and full production Focuses by and large haven’t had the jerky feel of the pre-production units some of the magazines got).

      • 0 avatar
        Z71_Silvy

        “Mulally’s announcement and comments show that Ford isn’t going to be satisfied simply letting some bugs fester until the dust clears though ”

        Bull.

        That fool didn’t once mention the continued problems with the Mustang’s manual that Ford is COMPLETELY ignoring. When you customers are having to go out and find solutions for Ford’s problem, it’s blatantly clear they are not doing one lick to get the problem fixed.

        What we have here people is the same damn Ford we had ten years ago…just a different baboon at the helm.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        All I know is that in 2 weeks my Focus has been in the shop longer then my last 3 VWs COMBINED. For family, city, state, and other reasons, I want my Ford to be the “Best compact car that you can buy”. The jury is still out because when the car works it is fantastic. Its just too bad that I had to buy a different brand to finally feel like a Volkswagen owner.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        This is an old story and probably isn’t relevant here, but ‘way back in late 1999, my son bought a beautiful 1997 Mustang. In early 2004, he got rid of it for a 2000 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT which he still owns and has been the best car he’s owned so far. The Mustang? It developed a persistant coolant leak. Apparently, Ford had a recall on those V6’s but he never got the message. Supposedly a crack in the block developed on many of those engines. Really unfortunate because he loved that car and took very good care of it and all of a sudden that issue showed up out of nowhere. Sad. Not a single problem until that happened.

        Nullo, do you have more info on this?

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        Zackman –

        Sorry, the ’97 Mustang was before my time with Ford, and I rarely see Mustangs of that vintage as trade ins, so I don’t have a lot of experience with it.

        As far as recalls go, it’s possible to miss a notice, but when the car is brought in for service at the dealer the service department should run the VIN through the computer to see if there are any outstanding recalls and notify the customer if something needs to be done. It’s a good reason to occasionally do a service at the dealer, even if you do most of the work yourself or with your own mechanic.

      • 0 avatar
        jereome

        I drove a (Beater) 98 Cavalier for four years, this spring My wife and i decided to invest in a newer vehicle as we are exspecting in mid june. We decided to go with the 2011 fiesta. After about 1200 km I heard periodic grinding while going up hills at slow speeds (PArking lot) at 2500 this sound became a common occurance so we called the local Ford dealership (Bought the car out of town) The local dealership tried to tell us that we could only have the warranty honored at the dealer where the car was purchased. We called the dealer we bought the car from and that solved that issue. The next day we took the car into ford and told them what was wrong with the car. After the test drive i was informed (Talked down to) that there was nothing wrong with my car. I was also told that there have been no known issues with the transmissions of 2011 fiesta’s. After performing updates on my car they then found there was issues with the car apparently it is now worse off than it was and they need to replace the transmission. Im really hoping this is a one time thing but based on what im reading my old beater might have been the more reliable

      • 0 avatar
        SP

        Zackman,

        I know the Ford 3.8 really well, and have owned at least 4 of them, and frequent newsgroups for the related cars … and I never, ever, ever heard of block cracking problems.

        Head gasket leaks? Yes. Intake manifold gasket leaks? Yes. I know the 96-98 Mustang intake manifold gaskets were revised at least once to solve a coolant leak problem. Here is a TSB about it.

        http://www.mustangforums.com/mustang-tsb/View-TSB/Year-1998/Model-Mustang/TSB-99-20-7/COOLING-SYSTEM-3.8L-UNDETERMINED-LOSS-OF-COOLANT–COOLING-SYSTEM-4.2L-UNDETERMINED-LOSS-OF-COOLANT–ENGINE-3.8L-ENGINE-OIL-CONTAMINATED-WITH-COOLANT–ENGINE-4.2L-ENGINE-OIL-CONTAMINATED-WITH-COOLANT.html

    • 0 avatar

      As to “rush product development” – absolutely yes. Anybody in their engineering group who felt that the Fiesta and Focus transmissions were ready for market ought to be to fired. These products are critical to Ford’s image and quality rating.
      Then there is the Mustang manual transmission situation… a *much* smaller part of total sales but a loyal and a very vocal group of owners. This is the Getrag MT82 transmission, found behind the V-6 and 5 liter engines. If you still think it’s just a “hard shifting” issue, see these two YouTube videos of the problem in action:
      – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6IhadvWIX6o&
      – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPmY2awSCsM
      And read the lengthy thread on AllFordMustangs here:
      http://www.allfordmustangs.com/forums/2011-mustang-talk/268693-official-2011-mustang-manual-transmission-rough-shifting-thread-318.html where you’ll see owners struggling to get the problem fix, Ford trying new fluid changes, clutch replacements, and even tranny replacement – all to no effect.
      With 4762 posts (being moderated to keep them on topic), you can see how wide spread this problem is. And the latest understanding this past week, unconfirmed by Ford Corporate but being repeated by dealers, is that Ford has finally put a hold on production. Other than a suggestion to change to Fiesta transmission fluid, which went nowhere towards solving the problem, and a finding that some clutch bolts are backing out, this has been the first solid acknowledgement by Ford Corporate of the seriousness and the extent of the problem.
      You’ll also find that NHTSA has a fair number of filings from customers.
      And that most dealers are giving customers the typical Ford runaround: “working as designed” or “unable to repeat problem”. Many have been denied service, leaving them with unusable cars.
      The great majority of posters are staying hopeful, although unfortunately a very tiny minority is blaming the issue on Chinese labor, exhibiting outright racial prejudice. Some are saying the entire Mustang ought to be made in America, as if that would solve every issue. Some want to go back to the Tremac TR6060, in the belief that it is “built in America” (wrong, it’s built in Mexico). But the gear rations of that transmission are all wrong for the 5 liter engine and it would be a huge step backwards.
      TTAC – you need to do an in-depth article exposing this problem.

    • 0 avatar

      As to “rush product development” – absolutely yes. Anybody in their engineering group who felt that the Fiesta and Focus transmissions were ready for market ought to be to fired. These products are critical to Ford’s image and quality rating.
      Then there is the Mustang manual transmission situation… a *much* smaller part of total sales but a loyal and a very vocal group of owners. This is the Getrag MT82 transmission, found behind the V-6 and 5 liter engines. If you still think it’s just a “hard shifting” issue, see these two YouTube videos of the problem in action:
      – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6IhadvWIX6o&
      – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPmY2awSCsM
      And read the lengthy thread on AllFordMustangs here:
      http://www.allfordmustangs.com/forums/2011-mustang-talk/268693-official-2011-mustang-manual-transmission-rough-shifting-thread-318.html where you’ll see owners struggling to get the problem fix, Ford trying new fluid changes, clutch replacements, and even tranny replacement – all to no effect.
      With 4762 posts (being moderated to keep them on topic), you can see how wide spread this problem is. And the latest understanding this past week, unconfirmed by Ford Corporate but being repeated by dealers, is that Ford has finally put a hold on production. Other than a suggestion to change to Fiesta transmission fluid, which went nowhere towards solving the problem, and a finding that some clutch bolts are backing out, this has been the first solid acknowledgement by Ford Corporate of the seriousness and the extent of the problem.
      You’ll also find that NHTSA has a fair number of filings from customers.
      And that most dealers are giving customers the typical Ford runaround: “working as designed” or “unable to repeat problem”. Many have been denied service, leaving them with unusable cars.
      The great majority of posters are staying hopeful, although unfortunately a very tiny minority is blaming the issue on Chinese labor, exhibiting outright racial prejudice. Some are saying the entire Mustang ought to be made in America, as if that would solve every issue. Some want to go back to the Tremac TR6060, in the belief that it is “built in America” (wrong, it’s built in Mexico). But the gear rations of that transmission are all wrong for the 5 liter engine and it would be a huge step backwards.
      TTAC – you need to do an in-depth article exposing this problem.

  • avatar
    65corvair

    It took my Ford dealer about five months before they we allowed to fix my gas gauge, and it still isn’t very good. I’m going to check the ground on my battery too. I worry about what will happen when it is five or ten years old. My advise to any customer is wait at least a year after a new model comes out, and then buy if only if it has perfored well.

  • avatar

    Someone really should make a website that catalogues each model year’s problems and failings. Basically, instead of having to dig through model-specific forums, you would make a “digital bible” of cars’ failings by make/model/year. If 3.8s munch headgaskets in Fords, you let everyone know to avoid them. Would be a very useful public service! I’ve never seen this info for all manufacturers in one place, maybe Truedelta could aggregate this type of data?

    • 0 avatar

      We definitely want to offer this. I had a form set up to post “common problems” in the past, but we’re working on something better.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        I don’t think that will ever fly. No manufacturer wants their dirty linen so publicly exposed and readily accessible to potential buyers. Ask CR about the flak they receive when they pan someone’s product.

        I know people who are dead-set against buying anything Ford, GM or Chrysler now because they have owned them before. My brother, who sells new domestic and foreign brand cars, tells me that the question most often asked for domestic brand cars is, “How long is the warranty?” For foreign cars it is, “How much is it going to cost me?” That should tell you a lot.

        We don’t need a data base of ills because the domestic brands will continue to outlist all things foreign. That’s what brought on carmageddon. Not enough people chose to buy a domestic brand because their reputation preceded them in the buying decision. That’s why GM and Chrysler died. Ford wasn’t doing all that good either. Only die-hard fans buy American. We already have the hard-won reputations for reliability established over the last forty years of record-keeping and the blogs of numerous gear-heads.

        All my pickup trucks and cars I ever owned were American, until recently. Now that I’ve switched I am a lot more critical of what I will buy in the future. I’m not ruling out buying another Ford in the future, but it’s got to be just as good as what I have now. I don’t think that they’re there yet. Ford certainly didn’t even come close in the AWD CUV or half-ton pickup truck classes when we were shopping.

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        Many people are buying Fords (and other American products) because they offer features that aren’t found in the imports.

        The absolute highest reliability isn’t the top criteria of every carbuyer, maybe even most car buyers. By and large the Detroit products now are very close to the Japanese in reliability, they exceed them in some areas, and yes, fall short in others. But the recent foibles with the Fiesta aren’t even near the same league as the old GM X-cars, the Tauruses with glass transmissions, or the Chryslers with head gaskets that would crack if you looked at them sideways.

        At this point there are a few annoyances, which by all accounts should be fixed by the next production run, and can easily be canceled out by the overall quality of materials and features not found in the competition.

      • 0 avatar
        redmondjp

        Well, the now-defunct http://www.cskauto.com (Checker/Shucks/Kragen) website offered something that was close – a reliability table by vehicle year, make and model, presumably based upon the number of replacement parts that they sold. From what I could tell, it did a reasonably good job (as good as CR does IMO), although one flaw was that it didn’t have good data for vehicles a few years old or less since those were fixed mostly under warranty and not by the owners themselves.

        But alas, CSK was bought out by Oreilly’s, and I don’t see this info on their new website.

      • 0 avatar

        I should make one thing clear: every manufacturer sometimes slips up, the Asians included.

        The Hyundai Genesis coupe had a bad first year, with multiple common problems. The Kia Soul had buggy “speaker lights” (that blink in tune with the music). The Infiniti EX35 experienced very common failures with the motor for its power-adjustable steering wheel. The current Accord had problems with welds breaking in the rear package shelf, causing a bad rattle. Toyota has minivans who door hinges fail (though not early on). Audi recently had a huge number of bad water pumps in its V6-powered cars. And direct-injected BMW sixes have suffered from a very large number of fuel pump failures.

        The problems Fords are currently having are only noteworthy because:

        1. The automaker did very well for a few years in the mid-2000s, and seems to be letting more glitches, usually minor, slip through now. Most of its models remain very reliable by historical standards.

        2. The Fiesta seems more troublesome than other current Fords, and might indicate that products primarily engineered by Ford of Europe will be more buggy than those engineered primarily in North America. And Mulally has directed that Ford of Europe supply more models to the North American market.

        I certainly did not mean to imply that Fords are junk and should be avoided. They’re not. This article is an early warning. We’re seeing a few common problems that should have been caught in product development. These definitely indicate that testing should have been more thorough. So it’s possible, but far from certain, that other problems slipped through that will only appear as the cars age.

        It is a good sign that Ford recognizes the danger, and is likely moving to close the loopholes in its product development process.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      Would also be good to include when those problems were fixed as well.

  • avatar
    geo

    The NA Fiesta launch reminds me of the 1999 Focus launch. In both cases, they were taking a successful European design and building in Mexico. Both cars performed and looked better than the competition. In both cases, people claimed that the cars had been “tried and tested” outside of North America, so all the bugs were worked out. Reviewers loved both cars. Both appeared ready to demolish their competition in sales.

    Sadly, the quality and reputation of the new Fiesta will also end up where the 1999 Focus did: in the euro-trash.

    • 0 avatar
      GarbageMotorsCo.

      Joining the Contour/Mistake as well.

      Doesn’t the Escape have the record for the most recalled car of all time or was that the Citation?

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        I think “most recalled” actually goes to the X5 or ML-Class, but the Focus was pretty close.

        The Focus’ problem was that Ford, at the time, skimped and rushed production of the Focus for cost reasons. They did well from ~2005 onwards and it would be unfortunate if they backslid.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      @GEO:
      “The NA Fiesta launch reminds me of the 1999 Focus launch. In both cases, they were taking a successful European design and building in Mexico.”

      In fact, Focuses (Focii?) were built in Michigan and Mexico. As I recall, there wasn’t anything to suggest either plant was building more or less reliable cars.

      • 0 avatar
        geo

        I don’t think building in Mexico was the problem; I just was drawing a comparison. Wherever it was built, something was lost in translation from Europe to NA. At least the drivetrain was reliable.

        I think the Focus debacle was a tragedy almost worthy of a “deadly sin”. Young buyers were coming back to Ford in droves, young people who would have been buying Civics were filling dealerships, and Ford was becoming almost “hip” for once. For a very short time.

        Why Ford appears not to have learned from this is anyone’s guess. It’s going to be painful to see this happen to the Fiesta. The squandered goodwill won’t come back, ever.

  • avatar
    PenguinBoy

    Ford can ill afford quality problems at this point, they have just barely started to improve their reputation for quality. A slip now could seriously damage their reputation, and erode their credibility which will make it difficult to convince people they have improved their quality (again).

    This will be particularly important for former import buyers choosing something like a Fiesta over a Yaris or Fit.

    Toyota can get away with engine sludge and poorly designed gas pedals because they have been building their reputation for the past 40 years, and have the trust of their customers – so they can afford a few wobbles.

    Ford, and the rest of Detroit, does not have that luxury. They have to be *better* than Toyota and Honda to win over new customers.

  • avatar
    Ubermensch

    I will need to follow this closely to see how Ford deals with these issues particulary with the Focus. I am strongly considering the Focus ST if it is offered with a dual clutch auto manual transmission.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Manual only in 2012. The new dual clutch transmission would scare me with 247 HP and whatever torque that engine puts out. Plus, until Ford puts proper paddle shifters on a car, it won’t be worth the price. No more rocker switches and terrible paddles from the Taurus.

      • 0 avatar
        geo

        To clarify: I know American engineers are very competent; however, even Bill Ford once acknowledged that the “best” engineers were working on the trucks. And I believe it’s possible that other top engineers are snapped up by the military though this is just a guess.

        So this leaves the others to work on the cars. If I’m wrong, than why have American compact cars been so notoriously bad for these decades, no matter how high the investment in the vehicles? If a car is poorly engineered, is it wrong to blame the engineers?

      • 0 avatar
        geo

        How did my post end up here…? Oops.

  • avatar
    Tosh

    QC is a tedious unglamorous slog unsuited to the Western mindset. Besides, Ford only cares to beat GM, VW, etc. and be ‘best in the West.’ Just like Toyota only needs to be a tiny bit better than Honda to stay in front. What’s the point of expending all that effort to win by an enormous margin, when you can win by one goal?

  • avatar
    GarbageMotorsCo.

    At least Ford is aware of their problems and intends to fix them.

    Government Motors let their Dexcool issues, Piston slap issues, Intermediate Steering shaft problems (still persist) and timing chain problems stew for years while being in complete denial over them. Their scumbag dealers were in denial at the very least, and I no longer have, nor will own another GM truck again.

    Toyota, Ford, Dodge (well……..) will get my dollars from now on if I buy another truck.

    • 0 avatar
      Z71_Silvy

      Right…because a GM truck that run 300K with “piston slap” is the same as a Ford that shoots spark plugs out of the head…and can’t run at all. And despite what dealer boy says, the shooting spark plugs were a WIDESPREAD problem.

  • avatar
    NulloModo

    Improving panel fit and polishing the operation of MyFord Touch are both worthwhile endeavors that will lead to overall quality gains across multiple products, it makes sense to implement those procedures unless you’re saying that just because one thing isn’t perfect you shouldn’t work on improving other things as well.

    Ford revamped pretty much the entire line over the past couple years, and it looks like some details might have slipped through QC. Most of these are pretty easy fixes though, like the Fiesta just requiring a better contact point for the ground wire. Similarly, most of the 2010 Fusion transmission shift feel issues could be fixed with a reflash, though some of those who had driven it a lot with the bad software apparently had some damage and required transmission replacements. Just going through some of the repair notes on TrueDelta the couple people who had ongoing issues could have just had dealers which just didn’t fix the problem properly the first time – but then again dealer service standards do need to be addressed (and there are current initiatives in place to do just that). Overall if you look at the results on TrueDelta the Fusion is scoring nearly dead even with the Accord, Altima, and Sonata.

    The truth of the situation is that no model is ever 100% free of issues. Looking at back TrueDelta data you’ll see Civics having similar incident levels to the Fiesta in the late 90s and Corollas having a lot of trouble in ’02. In an ideal world you catch the problem before the car is released, but in the real world sometimes things will slip through. However, as long as the problem is addressed quickly for those effected and fixed in production to prevent future owners from having to deal with it, most people aren’t going to be upset. If constant VW level of problems plague a vehicle, then something is very wrong, but in the case of the new Ford models it’s been more a case of possibly widespread but acute and easily fixed bugs.

    Another question is why is Ford being singled out for this? As much hay as has been made about the new Mustang manual transmission and how it can become difficult to shift into certain gears in some cases, looking at the TrueDelta comparisons shows amongst sporty coupes the Genesis Coupe and Audi A5 both report more problems (as do the Cadillac CTS and Dodge Charger, and by association likely their coupe variants as well). The big picture is still that Ford reliability overall has continued a great upward swing over the past several years, and for many models continues to match or beat the imports. In replacing the entire lineup over a short period of time a lot of change has resulted in a few glitches, which are for the most part for most people easily and permanently fixed.

    At the end of the day I guess this is the question: Has Ford reached a full line reliability standard that fully matches Toyota or Honda yet? No. Are the differences enough that you should worry about purchasing a Ford vs. a Toyota or Honda? No. For all practical purposes having a 99% chance of getting a trouble free car from Ford is close enough to the 99.9% chance you might have from Toyota, especially when that isolated problem can usually be fixed quickly and easily.

    I get that being in front makes one a target, and that this blog in particular likes to challenge the ideas that are generally held in other media outlets, but let’s not get carried away and start thinking the sky is falling down. The point to take away from all of this is that Mulally is doing exactly what the B&B have always said Detroit has needed to do – improve quality, improve reliability, continually innovate and bring better product out, but know and admit when things aren’t perfect, and find a way to make them better. The admittance that there are concerns and that they are going to be fixed should come as an honest breath of fresh air and proof that Ford’s reliability has nothing to do but continue to improve.

    • 0 avatar
      Dynasty

      I test drove a Mustang GT a few months back with the manual transmission. This was prior to me having any knowledge of the problems this transmission has.

      Imagine it about 6:30 @ night in WA state in the Winter. Dark out. The salesman has the engine started and I settle into the drivers seat and adjust the mirrors. Attempt to put the transmission into 1st gear. Dang, it just wont go in. I try again. Same result as before. Eventually figuring I’m doing something wrong, I really do something wrong and engage the transmission into 3rd gear and eaaaaaaaaaasssssssssseeee out on the clutch all the while thinking this car for having a powerful V8, this car sure does not pull very well.

      Eventually, as the transmission warmed up I was able to figure out that I never originally had it in 1st gear and it did begin to work right by allowing me to engage into first gear.

      But damn.. How does a development problem like this make it past QC?

      But other than the transmission, the car was alright to drive. However, I don’t think I’d ever get used to the live axle back end of the car bouncing all over the garbage roads we have here.

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        It’s not a design issue with the transmissions, most of them work fine, it’s a QC issue at the factory where they are made, which I’m sure Ford is working on in conjunction with Getrag to make right.

        There are a bunch of steps where something like that should get caught before it reaches a customer or potential customer. I’m sure they do some kind of QC testing at the factory where the transmissions are made, and this is the area where the diligence really needs to be stepped up.

        At the assembly plants (so Flat Rock for the Mustang) Ford randomly pulls cars every so often from the line to do driving tests to make sure everything is working the way it should. I’m not sure what the percentage of cars pulled is, but it’s not uncommon to see a car on the lot with an extra sticker from Ford saying ‘this vehicle had x many miles put on it at the factory for quality testing before being shipped to the dealer’.

        At the dealer, all vehicles have to go through another inspection process called PDI to make sure all fluid levels are good, that the windows, AC, stereo, etc are all working properly, that there was no transit damage, that the equipment listed on the sticker is present on the car, and usually a quick road test too to make sure the car drives well.

        Finally, at least at my dealership, for any test drive the salesperson pulls the car from stock, drives it around the lot in a couple circles to get the A/C or heat going, make sure the radio isn’t tuned to the Playboy station or whatever the lot guys left it on, and rub any oxidation off of the brakes if it has been sitting for a couple weeks. During this process if any odd shifts or abnormal sounds pop up we’ll put that car aside so it can go back to service and grab another one off the lot for the test drive.

        Ideally with all of these checks along the way your experience shouldn’t have happened. Obviously though, there is still room for improvement in the process, and which is why I’m glad that Mulally is addressing it and making it priority.

    • 0 avatar

      Where did I say Ford shouldn’t fix MyFord Touch and the panel fits? (Though, frankly, I can’t remember any complaints about the latter.) I fully expect they’ll fix all of these problems. But what they most need to fix is the system that let them slip through.

      Yes, some problems will always slip through. But the frequency varies by manufacturer, and Ford was doing better earlier. Which is the reason for singling them out here. No change from the past, no story.

      I’ve yet to call Toyota to task for the UA issue, for a simple reason: it was very, very rare, and never successfully replicated. This is very different from an obvious, repairable problem that affects a high percentage of cars at a young age. Such a problem should be easily caught by testing.

      • 0 avatar
        Dynasty

        I’m rooting for Ford, GM, and Chrysler. They have good engineers and designers that if left to their devices could build great automobiles assuming the factory workers care about what they are doing.

        It’s the executives that need to go. Or at least have their bonuses curtailed for a period of five or ten years. And if certain REAL targets are met such as sales, quality, reliability and public perception they would be entitled to them.

        Until then, it will be a continuous race to the bottom of putting short term profit in front of a long term business model.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        The 2012 Focus has panel fit issues. Its something easy that should have been caught at the factory.

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Nullo: You lost me at “Looking at back TrueDelta data you’ll see Civics having similar incident levels to the Fiesta in the late 90s and Corollas having a lot of trouble in ’02″, what starts out as a reasoned explanation, devolves into excuses based on comparisons of non-contemporary quality metrics and sophomoric finger-pointing at the competition.

      The customer, like me as I read your comment, doesn’t care a whit about how bad some jpn cars were a decade ago, or how bad others are now … they only care that a) their hard-earned money is going into a Ford that is not up to snuff, and b) that Ford owes-up to the issue (and not in some kind of point-across-town at the competition way… but in an absolute we own-up to it and we are gonna fix it way) and c) and Ford is going to do right by them to ensure absolute customer satisfaction.

      Comments like this remind me of the worst-parts of wrong-thinking hubris when TGR (things go right) and blame-shifting when TGW (things go wrong) and make me wonder if anyone in Detroit ever sustainably learns anything…

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        Robert –

        Let me clarify. In no way do I think other manufacturers’ missteps are an excuse for Ford to put out a product with problems.

        I was trying (apparently not very eloquently) to point out that having a bad year doesn’t mean a car won’t be very reliable long term. There’s a certain faction that would say ‘because the Fiesta is having these ground wire issues, the car is obviously built poorly and will always be an unreliable piece of junk’. My point is that such thinking is off base – the Fiesta was released with a problem, the problem is being addressed for owners effected, and should be fixed (perhaps already has been) in production for the next wave of cars. One problem does not an unreliable car make, that was my point. There is no reason to think that beyond possibly having to have a ground re-attached or a fuel gauge replaced that you wouldn’t be able to own a Fiesta for as many trouble free miles as a Corolla or Civic. Ideally, it would be better if that problem was caught before release, and I’m sure efforts will be made to improve the chances of that happening for future models.

      • 0 avatar
        Z71_Silvy

        “Nullo: You lost me at “Looking at back TrueDelta data you’ll see Civics having similar incident levels to the Fiesta in the late 90s and Corollas having a lot of trouble in ’02″, what starts out as a reasoned explanation, devolves into excuses based on comparisons of non-contemporary quality metrics and sophomoric finger-pointing at the competition.”

        That’s the Ford way.

        It’s like saying…”My neighbor is an alcoholic so it’s ok if I’m an alcoholic”.

        If Toyota builds bland boring appliances…is it ok for Ford to do it? Oops…looking at Ford’s current line up, apparently it is!

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      NulloModo: Looking at back TrueDelta data you’ll see Civics having similar incident levels to the Fiesta in the late 90s and Corollas having a lot of trouble in ’02.

      NulloModo, those Civic and Corolla results are for cars that have well over 100,000 miles on the odometer. I would expect those cars to have more issues than a brand-new car.

    • 0 avatar
      SP

      Ford is being singled out for the Mustang debacle because it’s a MANUAL TRANSMISSION, for crying out loud. It’s been figured out for at least 50 years!

      The only reason it doesn’t work is because they cut corners to save money.

      Ford is doing everything possible to deny warranty claims and pretend there is no problem. Why? To save money. Their money. Not ours.

      It’s the classic coverup.

      Ford deserves every milligram of bad ink it gets for the Mustang’s problems.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        They don’t get much mainstream bad ink for some reason. You’d think 3 million trucks with potentially self-detonating airbags would have merited headlines and network news hyperventilation, but that doesn’t seem to suit the agenda of our ‘unbiased’ news agencies.

  • avatar

    You’d think they’d have chrome down by now.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Makes one (almost) pine for the days of driving a 283 w/powerglide and manual roll-down windows! Chrome didn’t peel off at least for a few years and generally outlasted the body!

    Nah, I’ll stick with modern.

  • avatar
    bball40dtw

    All I know is that my wife’s 2012 Focus has been in the shop 8 out of 14 days that we’ve had it. It has me missing the legendary quality of VW Group’s electrical systems.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    The blogosphere is holding manufacturer’s feet to the fire and that’s a win/win especially since dealer’s can no longer just blow you off and claim “abuse” but altering your buying decisions because of what you’ve heard could be a mistake.

    The blogosphere loves to blow things out of proportion and although it’s good to have the knowledge, it’s still impossibe to gauge what my actual chances of getting a bad trans in a new Focus or Mustang. There is no perspective.

    Found out that Ford’s 6.0 Powerstroke diesel has major issues only after I bought a new Powerstroke F-350. It’s said to be the worst, most disasterous engine Ford has ever sold. Had I known, I would have bought something else. Thing is, I haven’t had a problem after 66,000 miles nor has anyone I know or have met.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s certainly possible to gauge the actual chances–this is the point of the Car Reliability Survey TrueDelta conducts.

      There’s a reason the editorial didn’t mention the Mustang’s manual transmission problems–only a small percentage of owners have reported them.

      Many problems that seem common on forums affect perhaps ten percent of cars. Few problems affect more than 20 percent, but they’re out there. And when they are, it’s a sign that the development process failed to catch something it certainly should have.

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        The problem with any of the surveys, whether they be TD, CR, Edmunds, etc, is that people who have had a problem are far more likely to take the time to participate than those who have not.

        You mention a high rate of Fiestas with the ground wire issue, but I’d be amazed if the percentage was over the single digits, and is probably less than 1% of having an effected car. Granted, this is just from my own observations, but I’ve sold a lot of Fiestas, and I haven’t had a customer call me up that they have a problem yet. Now, my Fiesta sales are still a rather small sample size in the grand scheme of things, and just because someone has had a problem is no guarantee that they’ll tell me about it and not just go straight to the service department, but if it was as rampant as all of the hoopla suggests, I’d assume I’d have heard something.

        Again though, just because only a small minority of cars are afflicted doesn’t mean the problem shouldn’t be addressed.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        “The problem with any of the surveys, whether they be TD, CR, Edmunds, etc, is that people who have had a problem are far more likely to take the time to participate than those who have not.”

        We’re talking about comparative quality and you haven’t explained why this applies to Ford customers exclusively. This excuse doesn’t show anything other than a willingness to dissemble. Besides, I get follow up emails from True Delta all the time which encouraged me to continue sending in odometer statements even though I’m still awaiting issue number one with my 4 year old Honda and have only once had anything to report about the 7 year old Acura.

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        CJ –

        I agree with regards to comparative quality. I was just pointing out that you can’t take the number of reported incidents vs. reporting owners as being representative of the experiences of all owners of any of these models. Whether it’s a Ford, Honda, Toyota, VW, etc, the owner is more likely to sign up for a site like TrueDelta in the first place if they are having trouble (or if they are just general car nerds like a lot of us here, but TTAC’s B&B make up a pretty small chunk of the population).

        As far as comparative reliability goes, TrueDelta shows that a Fiesta is about 4 times as likely to have a repair trip in the first year of ownership as a Toyota Yaris. Now, if we’re talking a 10% chance for the Yaris, and a therefore a 40% chance for the Fiesta, that could be seen as a pretty big risk. On the other hand if were talking about a .5% chance for the Yaris and a 2% chance for the Fiesta, yes, the ratio is still there, but by and large your very likely to be OK either way, so that’s no reason not to consider the Fiesta.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s far above the single digits.

        And, as CJinSD points out, TrueDelta’s survey is designed differently than the others to avoid the source of bias you describe.

    • 0 avatar
      Z71_Silvy

      “Found out that Ford’s 6.0 Powerstroke diesel has major issues only after I bought a new Powerstroke F-350. It’s said to be the worst, most disasterous engine Ford has ever sold. Had I known, I would have bought something else. Thing is, I haven’t had a problem after 66,000 miles nor has anyone I know or have met.”

      At my work, we have two 6.0s. One needed replacement at 11K miles the other (in an E-Series” needed replacement at 50K.

      Funny though…Navistar, when built to THEIR specs, did not have NEAR the problems with the 6.0 as when built to Ford specs………

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        From the valve covers down, International and Ford 6.0s are indentical and both have the problematic TTY head bolts/head gaskets. We could go back and forth on our personal anecdotal evidence but the point is that these thing get blown out of proportion by upset bloggers making alot of noise and the consumer is left to guess the actual failure rates. The more something sells, the more the unhappy bloggers. This is why low volume niche cars makers can quietly put out the crappiest cars around.

      • 0 avatar
        Patrickj

        Silvy, I’m shocked to hear you admit that it is possible for a Ford to last 66,000 miles without cremating its driver and passengers.

      • 0 avatar
        eldard

        @ Patrickj:

        I thought that’s Chrysler’s specialty now that it’s Italian and all…?

  • avatar
    derek533

    I had to take my ’10 Fusion to the dealer under a recall for a re-flash of the tranny. I had about 5k miles on it when I did this a year ago. Fast forward to today and 32k later (business use), the transmission is worse than it was before the reprogram. Hard, hard shifts when going from reverse to drive or vice versa and driving it when cold, sometimes it acts like a manual with what feels like I’m feathering a clutch and revving it before easing out on it.

    Other than the transmission issue, it has been problem free if underwhelming (the car itself) over the long haul.

  • avatar
    eldard

    Ford is more profitable than Japanese makers. Yet pay more salaries per worker. Anyone care to use a crystal ball to see where they scrimp?

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    When I think of all the recent problems Ford has had with transmissions:
    – D219/58 CVT (whine);
    – Mustang manual (hard shift);
    – Fiesta DSC;

    And now they want to design and build an in-house 8-speed automatic? (Has me thinking that someone will soon be talking along the lines of the old investment prospectus boilerplate “past performance does not guarantee future performance”)

  • avatar
    Disaster

    “Their product development process needs fixing.”

    Truer words could not be spoken.

    I was part of the Ford development process and watched them walk away from quality principles as they raced to get new products out on the market. It was horribly frustrating and I had to leave instead of be part of it.

    They took a “we’ll catch up and do that testing” later attitude. I expected to see the exact problems that are happening now.

    A typical thing they would do was assign the quality part of a project to a different engineer who would run quality meetings in order to put together the quality documents. They divorced the quality process from the design process. It became about creating the documents, not instituting the quality principles. This would be great if you were selling quality documents but we were selling cars.

    Another thing they did was hand quality and testing to vendors, who did not get good communication on what the total requirements were. If you don’t know the requirements, or if the requirements change, you will not be able to meet them. They also trusted some vendors that clearly were not ready to carry the mantel.

    Ford shows moments where they can sprint a little quality but they have a HUGE problem implementing it on a day to day basis.

  • avatar
    cardeveloper

    2011 Fiesta, one of the first off the line. Minor B-Pillar rattle that drove me nuts, but my wife couldn’t hear it. It was easily and quickly fixed. BUT, sync is definitely a microsoft product. That old GM joke of needing to get out open all the doors and hood definitely comes to mind. Random system lock ups that require a cold key cycle, engine off, key removed, drivers door opened (and you thought I was kidding) to get it to unfreeze. Menu structure had to be designed by an engineer that never interacts with real people. Multiple levels to change active phone from primary to secondary :(

    The D3 cut back way to far, and you’re beginning to see the consequences. Ford is bringing in any contract worker (not hiring) with any past experience. Chrysler is bringing on anybody that can survive 14 hour days (on 8 hours of pay). GM is low balling people to ridiculously low pay rates. These are not making for good future product development. It’s funny when the WSJ writes an article that the OEM’s can’t find engineers. No, they can’t find engineers that are willing to work 12+ hour days on 8 hours of pay at levels under the tier 2 union workers.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      “Ford is bringing in any contract worker (not hiring) with any past experience. Chrysler is bringing on anybody that can survive 14 hour days (on 8 hours of pay). GM is low balling people to ridiculously low pay rates. These are not making for good future product development.”

      Reminds me in 1974 when, after a close friend graduated with a degree in mechanical/automotive engineering, one company only offered him $3.50 an hour to do research! We still laugh about that one! Nothing new, eh?

  • avatar
    Ion

    When I think of myford touch iDrive is exactly the first thing to pop into my head.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      It’s not a great comparison. iDrive made it very difficult to access a lot of simple features by burying them deep in the menu structure, MyFord touch puts all major controls within reach by one or two button touches, or by a single voice command. iDrive was broken in design, MyFord Touch shows lack of polish in some areas, but is consistently getting smoother with each software revision. The basic design is sound, but smoothing out the response time would go a long way to making it feel like a new system.

      The biggest gripe I have with everyone jumping on the negatives of the system is that they always ignore the single greatest improvement, and the feature that negates a lot of the problems – the voice recognition. It’s like people don’t even want to try the voice commands.

      Sync and the ’09 edition voice activated nav system had some handy voice commands, but the complaint was always that you had to know the exact way the system wanted to hear something to make it work. MyFord touch fixed that by offering tons of voice alias commands so you can say something many different ways and still get the result you want. It also cut down on the levels of menus you had to go through in voice mode, you don’t have to say ‘phone’ then ‘call ‘ anymore, you can just say ‘call ‘, you don’t have to say ‘Destination’ then ‘Street Address’ then get prompted for each field of entry, you can just say ‘Destination Street Address’ then ‘123 W Made Up Ln, Louisville’ and have it entered automatically. The voice commands make trying to use the touch screen while driving unnecessary, and that’s the point everyone seems to forget when they talk about the system being distracting.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        Even though I can complain about a few things with the new Focus, MFT is not one of them. Sure there are some things that can be ironed out, like the Sync/MFT navigation sometimes makes me angry, but it really is a great system. I know Consumer’s Report and all the auto magazines say its confusing. However, my wife really likes it, and she has no patience. Nullo is right that you need to spend time with the system. Once everything is configured the way you like it, Sync/MFT is something you almost can’t do without. But as much as we like our 2012 Focus, if I had to get get rid of one of my vehicles, it would not be my GTI.

    • 0 avatar
      Ion

      I have admittedly never used either extensively except to reset oil lights, check oil levels, and use the HVAC.

      I personally think the greatest part about MFT is the programmable dash. A tach, speedo, MPG, and fuel level gauges are all I need to see on the dash.

      What I find interesting is how these reviewers are so harsh on MFT but ignore how some Lexus’s have a mouse on the center console or have you go through screens in the Navi to fine tune the HVAC control or radio controls. Atleast the Fords have nubs where the buttons would be.

  • avatar

    Don’t forget the MT-82 issue in manual transmission V-6 and 5.0 Mustangs. Those people have been waiting since the start of the 2011 MY. And the problem is still unsolved, right into the 2012 MY.
    Of course, Ford will put the major engineers on the Fiesta and Focus issues, leaving the Mustangs to hang in the wind….

    -Jeff
    DrivingEnthusiast.net

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Jeff/
      Drivingenthusiast.net

      Mello-drama aside, do you really think Mustang owners that got the defective MT82s are waiting around for Ford and Getrag engineers to finally solve the Great International Tranny Mystery? Or do you think they got a replacement trans and went on with their lives?

      • 0 avatar
        NulloModo

        Depending on the definition of tranny that you use, ‘The Great International Tranny Mystery’ would make for an awesome B-movie.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        Yeah it stars a German Tranny and set in a Shanghia red light district and an American tourist with a strange proposition…

      • 0 avatar

        Some who argued their way into replacements found the problem repeating, Other simply got a rebuild which failed again. Many dealers told their customers that it was workikng as designed, ignoring the griding noises coming from inside.
        Problem is that Ford doesn’t know or isn’t saying what is causing the problem… but they did try a fluid replacement which didn’t resolve the issue. A very weak attempt at resolving the issue.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        Jeff/
        Drivingenthusiast.net

        Yeah, there’s a real chance of getting defective “replacement” MT82. You gotta have pretty stinkin’ bad luck though, realistically. Bottom line is it’s a chance worth taking if you’re a Mustang “enthusiast” and especially if you’re “lucky” enough to have a defective tranny in the first place.

        Dealers are still dealers and some will try to sidestep any problem, that’s a given. I’m sure some dealers or individual advisors were honestly trying to take the shortest/simplest route to a satisfied customer. The question is how are dealers “fixing” Mustangs today, now that the problem has hit the mainstream blogosphere?

        Some people are waiting for Ford to hold a news conference. Probably not going to happen and only Ford knows how widespread the problem really is. It’s very possible that we’re talking about 1 percent or less of 2011/12 stick shift Mustangs. One percent is huge number only to the blogosphere. Remember, the main reason car enthusiast sites ran with the story is it’s “China Connection”. That’s drama. Some don’t get enough in their everyday life.

  • avatar
    geo

    So it sounds to me like the great “quality gains” of the past decade are due to the 1st-gen Fusion, which was much closer to the Mazda 6 design (this would also include the Edge); the Five Hundred, the Focus and Escape after all the bugs were finally worked out after many damaging years, and of course the Grand Marquis and Mustang, both of which had been reliable.

    Now many of these designs have been tinkered with, which is apparently causing problems. And the new releases look to be problematic.

    It’s really starting to look like American car engineering is the problem. My dad used to say that the best American engineers are working for the military, designing doors for tanks. Maybe he was right; I don’t know.

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      The Fusion and Edge might be based off of the CD3 platform which was co-developed with Mazda, but the majority of the engineering and development was done by Ford.

      Discounting American engineers as somehow inferior to the Japanese is at best uninformed, at worst bordering on bigotry.

      Look at the Ford line compared to Toyota or Honda and you’ll see products that pack in much more technology, a lot of unique features, competitive or superior fuel economy and performance, and high grade well put together interiors that are nice to spend time in.

      Saying that the engineering is inferior because of some relatively minor production niggles is ridiculous, even more so because as the whole article that prompted this post is about how Ford is aware that there are some problems and is taking steps to address them and make sure they don’t happen again.

      *edited to soften my language a bit.

    • 0 avatar

      I also do not think there is any problem with American engineers. Instead, as stated earlier in the comments, by myself and others, it seems most likely that Ford had to take some shortcuts because they had cut a lot of people but needed to get a large number of new and revised products to market as soon as possible.

      Nissan suffered from similar issues in the mid-2000s, for similar reasons. American vs. Japanese has nothing to do with it.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        The Ford engineers I know don’t have enough time/people to get thier job done. They desperately need more staff in Dearborn.

      • 0 avatar
        geo

        To clarify: I know American engineers are very competent; however, even Bill Ford once acknowledged that the “best” engineers were working on the trucks. And I believe it’s possible that other top engineers are snapped up by the military though this is just a guess.

        So this leaves the others to work on the cars. If I’m wrong, than why have American compact cars been so notoriously bad for these decades, no matter how high the investment in the vehicles? If a car is poorly engineered, is it wrong to blame the engineers?

      • 0 avatar
        Bryce

        American cars have been consistantly bad since the late 60s so when did the rush for new models cause the problems faced by rubbish like the Vega & Pinto How did the mad rush to production create an awful dunger like the Taurust to be made for years The crap X cars and awful Chryslers have been made for decades The US industry used to export cars back in the days but nobody has wanted American cars for 50 years they simply arent good enough

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    Michael,
    Not to sound bullheaded, but who isn’t suffering these issues today?
    The entire automobile manufacturing environment is at a strange position.
    New models MUST be rushed out.
    These products are planned for 5 years in advance, yet the whole table shifts faster today than it did just 10 years ago.
    This rush into production is custom made for future recalls.
    I can’t see any way around this.

    With the fickle consumer today being driven by the rapid rise, then fall, then rise, then fall of gas prices, all guesses are off as to WHAT car/truck will be in favor when your new design comes out.
    I mean, even after the last gas crisis, consumers began buying their large SUVs for non SUV use just as soon as gas was low again.
    Now they are back up…they aren’t selling.

    It seems to me that you can’t win for losing!
    But again I ask, what auto manufacturer isn’t suffering these troubles somewhere amongst their offerings of so many modes?
    Even Hyundai, the GOD of all auto journalists, is recalling models.

    Everybody is rushing out new designs and this is just going to keep right on happening.

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      Yes, I have seen first-hand at several companies how shortcuts are made in the product development process.

      At one company however, even with RIGOROUS qualification testing (thousands of hours of testing under a wide variety of environmental conditions), we still had some serious product failures after the parts had been out in service for 1.5 – 2 years (on a heavy truck chassis). Turns out that road salt was getting into a “completely sealed” unit, it was actually creeping between the potting material and the plastic housing, and once it reached the circuit board inside, bad things happened. Our testing process never revealed this flaw, and I was the engineer responsible for figuring out what was going wrong (always fun to wear the detective hat and get paid for it).

      So sometimes you can do all of the testing one can think of, and problems still make it into production. But far more common is the scenario in which the engineers are fully aware of the issues, but are ignored by management. Schedules must be met! Cost targets adhered to! Shoot the engineers and get this widget into production!

  • avatar
    Wheeljack

    Funny that I’ve never noticed the peeling chrome on the Taurus tailights – I see a lot of these in traffic every day here in metro Detroit. I’ll have to start looking harder I guess…

  • avatar
    geeber

    Interesting article. Thank you, Michael.

    Is this because of the large number of all-new or heavily revised vehicles Ford has rolled out recently? Their new model introduction pace seems ambitious even by the standards of the Japanese during their heyday.

    Are other manufacturers experiencing a similar level of problems with all-new or heavily revised models?

    I participate in the TrueDelta surveys with our two vehicles (2003 Accord EX four-cylinder and 2005 Focus SE sedan), and, based on the survey results, Honda and Toyota still seem to be the overall champs, despite assertions that both have slipped as of late.

    Both of our vehicles have been reliable. The Focus has 127,000 miles on the odometer, and we have not experienced any major problems with the car.

    I do know, however, that my Accord (155,000 miles) has aged MUCH better than my mother-in-law’s 2004 Malibu with half of that mileage on the odometer.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Those lower end China transmissions can’t be helping the case, especially with the stick in the new Mustangs for 2011.

  • avatar
    eldard

    TTAC your comments system is tedious. We should only recieve the replies to our comments, not every single damned comment. I don’t want to get 50 emails of this. I delete them all so I don’t know if someone replied to my comments.


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